He wanted to chase firetrucks as a child. Now he gets to ride in one.


Most youngsters wouldn’t dream of leaving the home with out their cellphones. Josh Potrawski feels the identical means about his hearth and police pager.

The 18-yr-previous from rural New Baden was carrying it final summer time when he and his girlfriend, Brianna Kaiser, have been strolling across the Mascoutah Homecoming. After listening to a few home hearth, they hopped in his truck and drove to the scene.

“By the point we acquired there, it was just about out, so we left,” stated Brianna, 17, a senior at O’Fallon Township Excessive Faculty.

It’s an excellent factor Brianna is excited about firefighting and emergency medical service. In any other case, the couple may need issues. Not all women would minimize a date brief for smoke and flames.

However Josh is all about firefighting and has been for a while.

“I can nonetheless keep in mind in preschool, telling the instructor what I needed to be once I grew up, and that was a firefighter,” he stated. “I all the time needed to know the place the firetrucks have been going, and I needed to comply with them.”

Josh realized his dream earlier this yr when he was sworn in as a volunteer firefighter with New Baden Hearth Safety District.

He’s nonetheless “probationary,” so he can’t cost into burning buildings with entrance-line firefighters till he will get extra expertise. However he can exit on calls and supply help providers.

“He appears to be a really go-getting younger man,” stated Hearth Chief Matt Flanagan, forty two, of New Baden. “He needs to study. He needs to know. He needs to be there each time he can and assist nevertheless he can. He’s conscientious about what’s happening. He takes these things critically.”

Josh is also a member of O’Fallon-Shiloh EMS Explorers, which is how he met Brianna. She plans to grow to be an emergency medical technician. Her father, Chris Kaiser, is an O’Fallon firefighter.

Explorers can journey in ambulances, do affected person assessments and supply basic care in restricted circumstances.

“The scariest calls are the cardiac-arrest calls,” Josh stated. “At that time, individuals aren’t actually capable of do something on their very own, so their lives are in your palms.”

Josh is also an editor for the Southern Illinois Hearth Incidents Fb web page, which retains the general public knowledgeable on fires, automotive accidents and different emergencies within the area.

He primarily studies fires in St. Clair County and elements of Clinton and Monroe counties.

“He’s on it on a regular basis — until he’s sleeping,” stated web page proprietor Travis Skinner, 21, a St. Clair County dispatcher and volunteer firefighter with the Camp Jackson district in Cahokia. “He’s a really vibrant child, and he’s been an excellent asset to us.”

Josh is following within the footsteps of his grandfather, Butch Klein, a Mascoutah firefighter within the Nineteen Seventies.

Josh was solely 14 when he turned a junior firefighter via Swansea Hearth Division’s cadet program, which teaches teenagers about every little thing from radio communications to car extractions.

He not often missed coaching on Monday nights and a few weekends, because of his mom, Amy Klein, who served as chauffeur-in-chief.

“Numerous little boys need to be firefighters and policemen once they develop up, however it’s by no means gone away for Josh,” she stated. “It’s only a ardour that he’s had for a very long time.”

Amy, forty seven, works as a nurse in neonatal intensive care at Cardinal Glennon Youngsters’s Hospital in St. Louis. Josh has a brother, Michael, 20, and sister, Taylor, sixteen. Their father, Michael Powtraski, lives in Tennessee.

Throughout Josh’s three years within the cadet program, he turned chief of programming and helped plan open homes and youngsters actions.

“I used to be allowed to answer all construction fires, whether or not it was three:30 within the morning or no matter,” he stated. “The one time I didn’t go was once I was in class.”

For the previous two years, Josh additionally has labored at New Baden Market IGA.

This fall, he’ll begin taking emergency medical technician courses at Southwestern Illinois School in Belleville with the aim of turning into a licensed paramedic in three years. In January, he plans to enroll within the hearth science program.

“I simply love serving to the group or anybody I can,” he stated. “If I can danger my life for any person else, I’m prepared to try this.”

Matt is thrilled when younger individuals present an curiosity in becoming a member of the New Baden hearth division. Right now, 9 of his 17 firefighters are eligible for retirement.

Matt is one in every of them. He was 18 when he was sworn in, following within the footsteps of his father and grandfather.

“We’re a volunteer division,” he stated, noting firefighters simply receives a commission once they exit on calls. “We’re all the time on the lookout for younger individuals to return in and study the whole lot, work their approach up into officer positions and take the reins once they grow old.”

  • Film: “Backdraft”
  • TV present: “Chicago Hearth”
  • Music: Nation
  • App: Fb
  • Hobbies: Fishing, spending time with girlfriend and listening to scanner visitors
  • Meals: Italian
  • Restaurant: Olive Backyard
  • Sport: Baseball
  • Staff: St. Louis Cardinals
  • Colour: Hearth engine purple



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