February 8, 2018 at 11:45am
Bryan Marshall ’85

Under Fire

Bryan Marshall ’85 wears many hats. Literally! Millikin’s assistant athletic director for sports information is also a volunteer firefighter and EMT for the Argenta-Oreana Fire Department, as well as a husband and a father.  

Since 2000, I have had the pleasure of working at my alma mater. In 2008, I was excited to move to Millikin’s athletic department, serving as the assistant athletic director for sports information. Being a part of the Big Blue athletics family has been a very rewarding experience. While the workload and hours can be overwhelming at times, I love what I do and enjoy interacting with our student-athletes.

No matter how rewarding one’s job is, everyone needs an outlet from the office to engage in hobbies or recreational activities they enjoy and to get needed rest and relaxation. I have taken another approach for my time outside of the office, spending the last 19 years serving as a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician (EMT) for the Argenta-Oreana Fire Department.

I have seen things I hoped I would never see, but for me, the good outweighs the bad.

When people have a fire, accident or medical emergency, they call 9-1-1 and expect to receive help from the local fire department. In the U.S., 65 percent of fire departments are staffed by volunteers — those willing to take time away from their families and civilian routine to answer the call. After moving back to my hometown of Oreana, it became clear to me that if I and others like me didn’t volunteer, who would answer the call if my family had an emergency?  

Once I joined the department, I began to get more and more involved. In addition to the training our department provided, I took two levels of EMT courses to learn necessary medical skills to help our community. I served the department as our emergency medical training officer and as a captain for the last several years. The Argenta-Oreana Fire Department serves 74 square miles, making it the largest fire district geographically in the area, responding to more than 500 calls per year. I am one of eight people in the history of the department to respond to more than 2,000 calls. My career tally is more than 2,650 calls.

Time is the biggest challenge. I have departmental training responsibilities four nights per month, mandated medical training requirements and obligations to represent the department at events each year — on top of the calls for service, of course. Calls come at all hours — day and night — and have interrupted many family gatherings and planned activities over the years.

While things can get very hectic in the athletic department, I love coming to work every day, and I have fun in my position. In contrast, I have seen and dealt with some of the worst situations people face in life during my years with the fire department. Fire service can be a dangerous job and something I always respect, but don’t dwell upon. I have faith in my training, my equipment, myself and most importantly, my fellow firefighters. There have been many moments where I feel I have made a positive difference in the outcome of an emergency situation. Unfortunately, I have also had to learn to deal with situations where a family loses their home or loved one. The loss of life is the hardest to deal with, especially when it involves children or young people. I have seen things I hoped I would never see, but for me, the good outweighs the bad.

Sometimes I wonder if my service on the fire department is my “get away” from my work at Millikin or if my career in athletics keeps me grounded so I can handle and cope with my service on the fire department.       

The major factor that makes managing these two worlds possible? My family. Not only do I receive unbelievable support from them, but they are active parts of both worlds. My immediate family is Big Blue through and through. In addition to being one of the Big Blue’s biggest fans, my wife, Shannon Black-Marshall ’05, is my unofficial assistant. Our daughter, Taylor Black, graduated from MU in 2013, and our son, Nathan Marshall, is a current MU student. In addition, Nathan is an athletic training student working with the Big Blue men’s soccer program, and he volunteers alongside me at the fire department. I’m proud to note all of my family have been a part of the fire department at some point in my 19 years.    

In finding a way to balance my career and my service to the fire department, I am living a personal life of meaning and value.  

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