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updated: 12/27/2013 8:38 PM

Moving Picture: Firefighting in Rolling Meadows rookie's blood

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  • Video: Moving Picture: Fire Legacy

  • Three generations of firefighters -- firefighter/paramedic John Loesch Jr. of the Rolling Meadows Fire Department (right) works with his father, John Loesch Sr., and former Rolling Meadows firefighter Ted Loesch, grandfather.

      Three generations of firefighters -- firefighter/paramedic John Loesch Jr. of the Rolling Meadows Fire Department (right) works with his father, John Loesch Sr., and former Rolling Meadows firefighter Ted Loesch, grandfather.

  • Rolling Meadows firefighter/paramedic John Loesch Jr. laughs as his father, John Loesch Sr., stops by the firehouse. Both are firefighter/paramedics and have worked together on the ambulance as a father and son paramedic team.

       Rolling Meadows firefighter/paramedic John Loesch Jr. laughs as his father, John Loesch Sr., stops by the firehouse. Both are firefighter/paramedics and have worked together on the ambulance as a father and son paramedic team.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Above, Loesch and his partner John Palmisano joke around before dinner. Loesch is a "probie" or probationary firefighter with only five months on the job and is targeted for practical jokes all the time.

      Above, Loesch and his partner John Palmisano joke around before dinner. Loesch is a "probie" or probationary firefighter with only five months on the job and is targeted for practical jokes all the time.

  • Loesch dons his air mask during fire drills at the firehouse.

      Loesch dons his air mask during fire drills at the firehouse.

  • Loesch takes a break outside his firehouse between calls to get some fresh air.

       Loesch takes a break outside his firehouse between calls to get some fresh air.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Third-generation firefighter/paramedic John Loesch Jr. takes an asthmatic patient to Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights.

       Third-generation firefighter/paramedic John Loesch Jr. takes an asthmatic patient to Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Being a probationary firefighter means Loesch often has to clean toilets, answer phones and do dishes plus watch his back at all times for practically jokes, even while sleeping.

      Being a probationary firefighter means Loesch often has to clean toilets, answer phones and do dishes plus watch his back at all times for practically jokes, even while sleeping.

 
 

With less than five months on the job at the Rolling Meadows Fire Department, John Loesch Jr. is still considered a "probie" -- a term used to identify a probationary firefighter, or rookie.

But his last name isn't an unfamiliar one at the department. Loesch is a third-generation member of the squad and is following in his father's and grandfather's firefighting footsteps.

His grandfather, Ted Loesch, retired from the department, started working there as a volunteer firefighter when the department first opened, while also working at a local barbershop.

"He would be in the barbershop cutting hair, and they would get a call at the fire house," Loesch recalls. "Off to the call they would go. As soon as they got done, they would come back to the barbershop and finish cutting hair."

And Loesch's father, John Loesch Sr., still works at the Rolling Meadows Fire Department, guiding his son along the way.

Loesch looks to his father and the senior guys on the shift for advice and has even worked with his father as a team on ambulance 15.

He says it's a neat experience to work alongside his father on a call.

"That's the kind of thing that really makes this not just a job or a career," he says. "It runs in your blood."

Loesch says following in your father's footsteps is the greatest honor you can pay your father.

As a probie, however, Loesch gets more of the mundane chores such as cleaning toilets, doing dishes, answering phones or even checking the blood pressure of regulars who walk in off the street.

But even with the mundane tasks assigned to him, Loesch says he gets a good feeling from knowing he could someday make a difference in someone's life.

"You can count on (firefighters) when things are not going good," he said.

Loesch realizes putting on the uniform comes with risk and that running into a burning building has its hazards. But no day will ever be like the last; anything can happen while on shift, and that's what Loesch enjoys.

On the last day of his internship with the department, Loesch had his first cardiac arrest call on a 70-year-old man -- a call that showed him how efficiently and quickly firefighters work.

"He was dead," Loesch said, referring to the lack of a pulse in the patient. But he and the rest of the crew worked on the patient for 15 minutes rotating CPR duties and using the defibrillator to get a pulse going again.

"Everybody knew their jobs," he said, "The feeling was awesome."

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