Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Two hats one man

by Senior Airman Melissa Paradise
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

8/2/2013 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- During the week, Robert Foster is the battalion commander for the City of Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, but for one weekend out of each month for the last 20 years, he dons a different kind of uniform and provides lifesaving medical care as an Air Force Reserves chief master sergeant and 927th Aeromedical Staging Squadron superintendent.

"My primary role [as the 927th ASTS superintendent] is to lead and manage approximately 150 medical personnel ranging from emergency medical technicians to surgeons," said Foster. "However as the battalion commander, my primary responsibility is emergency scene management which includes acting as the on-scene commander for calls such as motor vehicle crashes, high-rise rescues, medical emergencies and structure fires."

The two careers, although different, go hand-in-hand with each other. Both are high intensity, high stress jobs that deal with saving lives. Firefighting deals with an immediate emergency and being a medic deals with an emergency and long-term medical care afterwards.

For Foster, having both careers has helped him remain calm in situations that could easily overwhelm most individuals.

"My dual careers have enabled me to view a crisis from a variety of directions," explained Foster. "This has allowed me to determine the best solution for a situation, which in turn provides the best possible outcome."

In 1999, Foster was assigned to a paramedic special operations unit in Atlanta which responded to an incident in a high-rise involving an active shooter. His role was to ensure the crew's safety, triage multiple gunshot victims and facilitate the immediate evacuation of critically injured patients while the shooter was still on scene.

"Because of the extensive medical training that I have received in both the military and civilian positions, I find that I have an expanded view of handling emergency situations," said Foster.

With the balance between Foster's two careers and the support of his family, he has had the opportunity to do many great things in his life. After serving 21 years as a firefighter, seven years on active duty, 20 years as a reservist and two years as an Army National Guard helicopter medic Foster now uses all of his skills to help expand the knowledge of others.

"I am very fortunate to have had an opportunity to do all I have done," said Foster. "I plan to continue passing on my knowledge to both the other firefighters and the Airmen."

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