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
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
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
"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."