Heroes Among Us Recognized at Space Center Houston (Part II)
On Jan. 23, a group of Johnson Space Center volunteer emergency responders, both fire and emergency medical services (EMS), were recognized for their valiant efforts in serving their communities and the center. Many shared stories about what inspired them to take on this extra duty and why they are willing to risk their lives to save others.
Meet Some of the Volunteers
By day, Fisher is the deputy partner chief engineer for the Commercial Crew Program. Fisher leads a team of engineers working with commercial American companies developing the next generation of space vehicles to transport crews to and from the International Space Station. He has been a volunteer firefighter for eight years with League City.
“While it has been a sacrifice for me and my family, there is no replacing that genuine appreciation you get from someone for whom you have helped, whether it is saving their family heirlooms from fire or just fixing that alarm that won’t shut up at 3 a.m.,” Fisher said. “I was honored and privileged to be recognized at the Space Center Houston ceremony and appreciate the effort it takes to pull something like that off. While it wasn’t part of the event, there was a lady who worked over at Space Center Houston who came over and personally shook every hand and thanked every one of us. I could tell from the firmness of her handshake and the tears in her eyes that her appreciation was genuine and deeply seated. I can’t describe how far that goes towards motivating me to keep going. I still don’t know why God has me on this planet, but I am drawn to develop the skills and opportunities to be in a position to help someone on one of the worst days of their lives.”
Zuteck is a systems analyst/database administrator for Barrios Technology and has been an active volunteer for Kemah for two years. He worked EMS in the past with a volunteer service in the local area for roughly eight years. Zuteck got his start at Baybrook mall after he “stumbled into a volunteer day event one day” and spoke to representatives from the Clear Lake Emergency Medical Corporation.
“There is really nothing better than to be there for someone in their time of need, to learn from their mistake or situation and try to impart the knowledge gained to help others,” Zuteck said. “There are a lot of parallels to JSC’s own safety culture.”
Harp became a League City volunteer Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in 2003 and got his start growing up in a family who did a lot of volunteer work, which inspired him to carry on the tradition. By day, he is a Mission Operations flight controller.
“My parents believed that you should always give back in some way,” Harp said. “I’ve always had some interest in medicine, and being a volunteer EMT seemed like a great way to help. Being an EMT is important to me because it allows for a way to volunteer and help people in my community, and you get some great stories.”
Plante has been a Pasadena volunteer firefighter for five years—the largest single-municipality volunteer fire department in the country. Prior to that, he had volunteered with Southeast Volunteer Fire Department for 10 years as a firefighter/paramedic. He enjoys the adrenaline rush of the volunteer job and initially did it to combat his fear of heights. By day, he is an engineer working for Boeing on wiring design for NASA’s docking adapter.
“Firefighting provides the adrenaline rush usually missing in my desk job, so it’s a good balance for me,” Plante said. “It also gives me a good reason to stay in shape, as I am one of the more chronologically gifted members of the department. I enjoy my engineering job because of the mental challenge of getting to design things that do not currently exist.”
Park is an engineer for Wyle. He’s been a JSC team member for 22 years and a volunteer firefighter for 18 years. He is currently a volunteer for League City. He was introduced to the world of emergency services early on through family and friends.
“It’s an amazing experience,” Park said. “They are my second family, and our kids know their kids, and it’s amazing how the two worlds, engineering and volunteering, relate in so many ways.”
Wenger is the Robotics group lead for the Mission Operations Directorate. It was his childhood dream to become a firefighter, and he has been volunteering for 10 years. He is currently a volunteer for Fort Bend.
“There is a fire station at the end of the street, so I went over there and talked to the guys about how to volunteer, and they said I had just taken the first step by showing up,” Wenger said. “I’m always learning something new that can be applied to everyday life, and a big component of it is supporting my community.”
Cashen has been a lieutenant and fire inspector for 11 years—10-and-a-half of those with Pearland. He was inspired by 9/11 to start volunteering. By day, he is an increment engineer for the International Space Station Program.
“I like having the knowledge and tools to help people when they are not able to help themselves,” Cashen said. “When people are at their worst, they need someone who can provide them stability and expertise in subject matters they’re probably not all that knowledgeable in.”
Heuiser is the FORTRAN code developer for the Hypervelocity Impact Technology Group and is responsible for updating, debugging and improving the group’s FORTRAN tools. The main one is called Bumper, which analyzes and summarizes the effects that MMOD (micro meteoroid orbital debris) has on shielding/vehicles including ISS, satellites, and COTS vehicles. He is a captain with the Forest Bend Fire Department five years and counting. Heuiser’s neighbor, a volunteer of 20 years, convinced him to give it a try.
“I signed up and have loved it ever since,” Heuiser said. “It’s a great way to serve your community and to help people from such mundane needs such as cats in trees all the way to medical first responder, rescue and fire suppression activities.”
Monteilh is a Building 24 operator and a volunteer fire fighter for LaPorte, specializing in rescue.
“My job is to keep the site cool with chill water and to supply heat with steam from the boilers,” Monteilh said. “I’m a five-year fire fighter, and my specialty is rescue. When I turned 40, it was on my bucket list.”
Silva is a Building 24 chief operator, which consists of operating and maintaining boilers and chillers in the Building 24 Cooling and Heating Facility. Silva has been at JSC for 12 years and a fire fighter for two years. His father was a fire fighter for 20 years and shared his expertise and training with his son.
“My father was a police officer but decided that working as a fire fighter was also an honorable way to serve his community and protect its citizens,” Silva said. “I feel like it’s my duty as a League City citizen to give back, and I also wanted to set a good example for my children.”