HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Our first responders put their lives on the line to save ours, and there's one HEMSI paramedic who does so while still spreading smiles.
His name is Jason "Pancake" Clemmons and he is this month's Valley's First Responder.
Jason Clemmons is his government name, but most people know him as "Pancake".
"I got that name at a fire department a long time ago, and I've worked hard to make it stick," says Clemmons.
Clemmons worked as a volunteer firefighter at age sixteen. He's dedicated a total of fourteen years to the ambulance service.
Six of those years were spent with HEMSI. "It gives people laughter when I go pick 'em up on the ambulance and they're having a bad day. They're upset or something. You know I tell 'em, walk up and say 'Hey, my name is Pancake.' It's just hard for people not to smile at that," says Clemmons.
Clemmons says it helps when he has his partner, HEMSI, Inc. EMT Kade Mayer, along with him.
"Oh, man. He's my work husband. I spend more time with him than I do my own wife. I mean we share a lot. We talk about a lot through difficult times. Through fun times. Through exciting times," says Clemmons.
"I see Pancake as a father and a brother at the same time," says Mayer.
Mayer says he's just getting started as a first responder. He started working with HEMSI since August of last year.
However, Pancake says he's someone he can count on.
'There's always situations that happen where we feel unsafe.....and to have him as my partner, know that it's almost like he can know what I'm thinking before I even say it. It's almost like he's a step ahead of me," says Clemmons.
Mayer also sees Pancake as a great mentor.
"He teaches on the side too, like HEMSI classes and stuff...He teaches me a lot of that paramedic level stuff so I can think on his level and give him things he wants before he even knows it," says Mayer.
He also sees Pancake's sacrifice. Pancake lives in the Shoals area.
"He commutes over two hours to work everyday and he has his family. He has three children and his wife," says Mayer.
Pancake says there are more challenges. "Family life is hard. I've got little kids. And so, it's hard for them to understand that I have to go to work and especially working night shift when I'm not home at night when they go to sleep," says Clemmons.
He says getting through the pandemic was tough too and a "learning curve".
"You know I worked through the April 27th, tornado. I was on the ambulance then, and they dispatched me in. So that was tough," says Clemmons.
"Life is hard, and so if I can do something to make it a little easier on somebody, you know that's my drive. That's my passion. I want to make life a little more easier for somebody else. You know I want to make their day a little bit better," added Clemmons.
Thank you, pancake! Do you know someone who could be the next Valley's First Responder?
To do that go to the Valley's First Responder tab at the top of the page.