Glenwood’s mother goes from passer-by to life-saving service

MICHAEL LAVENDER Director of Communications, MTCC

Not all Hearth, Rescue, or Emergency Medical Service volunteers can let you know what motivated them to present their time and power to serving to others.

However Jennifer Morgan, household assets program coordinator at Glenwood Elementary Faculty, can let you know precisely what motivated her to turn out to be each a volunteer firefighter and an emergency medical technician (EMT). Add that to being a mother, a full-time college worker, cooking for her church’s Girls on Mission group, part-time janitor at Glenwood Baptist Church, and cooking for a month-to-month PTO and church-sponsored instructor appreciation meal at Glenwood Elementary Faculty.

To be honest, Jennifer married right into a household of firefighters and emergency staff. Her husband, Ronald “Ron” Morgan, is a retired fireplace chief of the Lake Lure Hearth Division who now directs the McDowell Hearth, Rescue and EMS School going down this weekend at McDowell Technical Group School and different county location.

Individuals additionally learn…

Ron’s grandfather helped begin the Glenwood Hearth Division a long time in the past; his father, Gene Morgan, has been a Glenwood firefighter for over 50 years; Gene and his brother David are longtime Glenwood firefighters; and David’s daughter, Amberlie Morgan Buff, is the 911 supervisor for the McDowell County 911 Communications Heart.

Life as a spectator

Jennifer knew what she was entering into, although. She began relationship Ron when she was 15, and he informed her instantly that being a firefighter would come first. In reality, she dropped her off on the Junior/Senior promenade to make a fireplace name. She knew what it took her to be a firefighter. However that was like a spectator.

For a very long time, ladies weren’t concerned as regular firefighters on this space. Ten to fifteen years in the past, nonetheless, Jennifer turned the Glenwood Hearth Division’s Women Auxiliary President, cooking meals and offering water when firefighters responded to lengthy emergencies or for coaching occasions, or offering some other fireplace brigade assist. She was near the motion then, however she was, in her phrases, nonetheless a spectator.

Emotions of helplessness

Issues began to go downhill, nonetheless, about six years in the past, in December of 2016, as Jennifer greatest recollects. That month, Glenwood FD responded to a facility fireplace wherein a mom, father, and their kindergarten-age son misplaced their lives.

“The home was a complete loss,” Jennifer stated. “The household couldn’t be saved. It actually hit me. That little one misplaced his life. He was in kindergarten right here in Glenwood (elementary).

Jennifer Morgan administers a COVID vaccine throughout a clinic.


Glenwood had been instructing fireplace security since about 1997, however she and others turned extra proactive after this fireplace, partnering with the American Crimson Cross to extend fireplace prevention efforts all through the neighborhood.

However just a few weeks later, in March of the next 12 months, tragedy struck once more.

Jennifer wakened late on a Sunday morning that month and needed to rush to the church to open the doorways earlier than folks began arriving. She was nonetheless sporting pajamas and flip flops and solely later did she understand she had left her mobile phone at house.

“I am a creature of behavior,” she stated. “I’ve a routine for every part, even the order to open the doorways within the church.”

As she stopped to start opening the doorways, she occurred to see a big plume of black smoke within the distance, and he or she knew it “…was no good.” She had made sufficient 911 calls with Ronald to be taught the distinction between the forms of smoke, and he or she acknowledged that what she had seen was seemingly the results of a fireplace on the facility.

He drove as quick as he may to the home of a buddy who lived close to the smoking web site, honking his horn frantically as he entered. She requested her buddy to name 911 after which she ran house.

When she obtained there, she began banging on doorways, hoping to get up whoever may be inside. She reached out to open a display screen door, however the smoke and warmth from her overwhelmed her and he or she needed to again away, however she continued to bang on the home windows and doorways as greatest she may. She knew she wanted firefighters.

Although it appeared like ceaselessly, members of the hearth division rapidly got here in and he or she began pulling the hose for them. A lady arrived on the scene, screaming the phrases nobody needs to listen to: “My daughter is in the home.”

It seems that the daughter and her boyfriend have been each in the home, however a mom’s instincts are at all times for her little one first.

Jennifer went into “feminine booster mode,” serving to mother, watching as firefighters bravely tried to battle the blaze, however have been unsuccessful. She regarded on the razed home.

Each the daughter and her boyfriend died within the fireplace.

“I will always remember the helpless feeling I had that morning,” stated Jennifer. Since then she has replayed the day time and again in her head, questioning if there would have been a unique consequence if she hadn’t forgotten her mobile phone or if she had worn extraordinary footwear to have the ability to transfer quicker. Above all else, she wished she had completed extra.

These emotions of helplessness have given solution to a want to undergo firefighter coaching and turn out to be extra of a bystander. “I wished to get educated and be an energetic a part of preventing the fires,” she stated.

Turning tragedy into service

And so he did. Ron was nonetheless fireplace chief at Lake Lure FD then, and he or she started taking courses there earlier than she retired. She then transferred her membership to Glenwood FD, to the neighborhood the place they lived, and he or she started taking courses there. She additionally enrolled in courses at McDowell Hearth, Rescue and EMS School—3 times—taking quite a lot of courses that allowed her to take part in dwell burns, air flow and different courses.

Along with her fireplace coaching, Jennifer additionally began taking emergency medical coaching to turn out to be an EMT, however for very completely different causes. When her father, Randy Lavender, fell sick a number of years in the past following a coronary heart assault, she watched as her mom, Mavis Lavender, cared for him. Later, they found that she additionally had Parkinson’s illness, a debilitating neuromotor illness. Once more, she acknowledged that she wished she may do extra to assist her mom and others in conditions like this.

Glenwood's mom goes from helpless bystander to lifesaving service

Jennifer Morgan, left, with 911 receptionist Sierra Kelly throughout a rescue coaching class.


She started taking EMT courses at McDowell Tech within the spring of 2020, simply earlier than the COVID pandemic began, and graduated in December of that 12 months. When vaccines turned obtainable, she and her classmates have been recruited to help with the photographs clinics. She labored each Friday administering COVID vaccines and boosters and continued till final fall, after the final clinics concluded at McDowell’s well being division, although attendance on the program has slowed markedly over time.

He now works half time for McDowell EMS, making ambulance calls. “It is rewarding, however generally it is a little bit scary. As a primary responder within the fireplace division, I work primarily in Glenwood the place I do know my neighborhood, get to completely different locations, and the place I’ve longstanding relationships with the folks I work with. As an EMT, I journey to completely different components of the county, usually with a unique ambulance group every time. I prefer it, however it was a studying expertise – that unfamiliar factor.

No regrets

Jennifer does not remorse a second of her firefighter or EMT coaching, apart from not beginning sooner. “I used to be in my 40s once I turned a firefighter,” she stated. “What may I’ve completed if I had began earlier?” she mused. “I may have labored with my mother or Ron.” (Her mom, Mavis, labored at McDowell EMS earlier than she retired.)

Glenwood's mom goes from helpless bystander to lifesaving service

Jennifer Morgan is proven in her gear on the Glenwood Hearth Division.


“What I actually love and what actually speaks to my coronary heart is fireplace prevention,” she stated. “I see youngsters within the hallways of Glenwood (Elementary) and so they acknowledge me for coming to their home to test the smoke detectors. They may inform me concerning the apply of “cease, drop and roll” and the escape plans they’ve within the occasion of a fireplace. Within the occasion of a fireplace, it is the scariest time in a baby’s life, and it soothes them to see a well-recognized face present up at their house to place out a fireplace. She calms them down. I like being that individual for them. you are making a distinction after they come as much as you in school and say, ‘Hey! I noticed you at my home.’ And if a boy, particularly a lady, turns into a firefighter by seeing me, that is even higher.”

“It is nice to see extra ladies turning into firefighters, first responders and paramedics,” she continued. “We’ve rather more to supply than delicacies. Glenwood now has three feminine firefighters and one junior firefighter, who may even go to highschool to turn out to be an EMT paramedic.

Junior firefighters usually begin as youngsters. At age 18, they are often voted into becoming a member of the division and move a six-month probationary interval and coaching earlier than turning into a full-fledged firefighter.

In response to Jennifer, there aren’t many ladies in different native departments, however that can seemingly change over time. Lately, fewer and fewer folks have expressed an curiosity in turning into a firefighter general, and ladies generally step in to fill the necessity.

“I wish to be concerned as a lot as attainable,” Jennifer stated. On common, there could also be 20-50 calls as a Glenwood Firefighter every month, however this varies broadly. As of March 1st, six calls in simply two days. “If I am obtainable, I will go. I wish to become involved and assist as a lot as attainable. The final couple nights I have never slept as a result of I used to be serving to run fireplace calls, however right here I’m.

McDowell Hearth, Rescue and EMS School

“Regardless of the cause a firefighter, emergency well being employee or rescue volunteer involves ‘Hearth Faculty’, we’re delighted to be there to help them with the coaching they should turn out to be the very best in what they do,” stated Dr. Brian S. Merritt, president of the MTCC. “These are the individuals who put their lives on the road every single day to make the world a little bit safer for the remainder of us, and when attainable, to ensure we dwell to see one other day. We’re grateful for them, for his or her sacrifices and for his or her service”.

To turn out to be a firefighter, emergency doctor, or rescue volunteer, contact your native fireplace division and categorical your curiosity, or contact Andrew Pressley at or name him at 828-652 -3241.

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