Jason Patton is no stranger to being in front of the camera. But usually it’s a little more scripted, a little more staged and a lot more light-hearted.
As the creator of Fire Dept. Chronicles and vice president of Fire Dept. Coffee, he’s been the star of hundreds of popular online videos where he uses humor (and coffee) to show the real (and the ridiculous) aspects of life as a first responder.
So when he was selected to be highlighted on a recent episode of A&E’s popular series “Live Rescue,” things were a little more serious. The show follows firefighters and EMTs from across the country as they respond to emergency calls in real-time.
In an episode that aired earlier this month, Jason rode with a unit from Pompano Beach Fire Rescue.
“From the second I arrived, everyone was extremely welcoming,” Jason said. “The crew at the station showed me around the station quickly and introduced me to everyone.”
Jason prepared for his live television debut the way he prepares for most shifts at his own station.
“I had about 3 cups of Fire Dept. Coffee prior and 4 cups during!” he said.
During the show, Jason was seen responding to two calls. The first, naturally, offered a taste of the ridiculous, and then things got more serious on the second.
On the first call, Jason and the team from Pompano Beach arrived in the parking lot of a Publix grocery store to find a woman frantic and screaming that her poodle was locked in her car.
The first responders worked quickly to unlock the vehicle, only to discover that there was no dog in the car. Matt Iseman, the host of “Live Rescue” dubbed it “The Saga of the Disappearing Puppy.”
As the owner of the car and the dog continued her hysterics, the woman’s neighbor pulled Jason aside and suggested that perhaps the dog was never in the car. She simply locked her keys inside.
“Well, I don’t think he spontaneously combusted,” Jason said later. “ I do think that the ‘phantom dog’ was a convenient way for the lady to get her car unlocked without having to pay a locksmith. You’d be surprised how many ‘phantom dogs’ fire rescue responds to each year.”
As Jason was responding to the phantom dog call, elsewhere across the country, firefighters and EMTs were responding to life-and-death emergencies.
In one scene, first responders saved the life of a woman who had earlier in the evening been delivering cakes to local police departments in honor of Law Enforcement Day. While driving to a family gathering, she suffered a diabetic episode and wrecked the car.
When they found her, she was passed out and the car was on fire. They pulled her from the flames just before she and the first responders could be seriously injured.
In another scene, a little girl was struck by a car going 35 mph and first responders had to work quickly to get her lifesaving medical attention.
When the next call came in for Jason and Pompano Beach Fire Rescue, it was much more serious than the first call. They arrived at the scene of a car accident, and Jason quickly sprung into action.
He assessed the situation, finding the vehicle’s driver still in the car with airbags deployed all around him. Jason approached and spoke to the driver in a calm, measured tone, instructing him to be as still as possible while firefighters and paramedics prepared to get him out of the vehicle and tend to his injuries.
“It’s extremely important to remain calm,” Jason said. “Patients are looking to us to gain a sense of relief in the middle of what could be the worst day of their lives. We have to show them confidence through calmness which will give them the sense of peace that they need in that moment.”
Jason’s performance on the scene and on camera drew praise — and a little free publicity — from Iseman and his co-hosts.
After referring to Jason as “that big, tall, Mr. Clean-looking guy,” Iseman added, “You may recognize him from his online efforts where he is the heart of Fire Department Chronicles. Check it out.”
Jason had responded to the first call while wearing a “Fire Department Chronicles” T-shirt and to the second while wearing a “Fire Dept. Coffee” jacket. So he had a plan to get his publicity anyway, but he was thrilled to get the shoutout from the host.
“It was extremely cool!” he said. “I never thought he’d do that, so it was a huge surprise when he did.”
Overall, Jason said, he loved the experience of his live, national television debut. The eye-opening thing, he said, was that the film crews carried more equipment than firefighters responding to a structure fire.
He said he’d appear on “Live Rescue” again in a heartbeat. And he suggested he just might be game for a future role in reality TV.
“Absolutely. I think it would be really interesting to be on a reality show,” he said. “But I would rather host one first. … Hint, hint.”
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