This column serves as a spotlight, highlighting the everyday people who work and live in Callaway County. The Fulton Sun takes a moment with someone who is not usually featured in the news but is just as instrumental in making the community the strong and beautiful place residents here know and love.
Nathan Kline moved from Audrain County to Callaway County in 2004 after he started working for Callaway County EMS. Kline lived in Fulton and New Bloomfield before moving to his current home in Holts Summit with his wife, Sarah, and their four children.
Kline realized the health care field was for him after talking about riding along in an ambulance for a shift to see what being a paramedic was about. He started EMT classes in 2002 at the Callaway County Ambulance District during his senior year of high school.
"It just kind of gets in your blood," Kline said. "I really like helping people, so getting to be able to learn how to take care of people in different situations was appealing to me, and just being able to help people on their worst day. You see people from all walks of life, every socioeconomic background you can imagine, different educational levels and just getting to interact with them all."
He started as an EMT and became a paramedic in 2007, and is now also a relief supervisor. He's also filled the role of training officer.
Though Kline was already on the path of health care, 9/11 really opened his eyes and made him realize those firefighters, police officers, EMTs and paramedics all gave the ultimate sacrifice in order to serve and help other people.
"It gave me the, 'Hey, this is what I want to do in life.' I wanted to be able to help make a difference," Kline said.
What was your first job?
In my very first job, I worked for a Christian radio station when I was a teenager. I talked a little bit on the air (and) put on different programs; more or less a DJ in the afternoons.
Who inspires you the most?
The No. 1 thing that inspires me is my faith, so I would say Jesus Christ. I have a very rich history of it in my family. My dad was a pastor. I watched him help people and I think that translated to me, so I like to help people. But I think the person that inspires me the most would be Christ. He told a true story in the Bible, the Good Samaritan story, that always speaks to me because I feel like maybe that was one of the first responders. He saw somebody in need that was hurting and he went to them. Other people who could have maybe helped passed by but he saw that person and made a difference in his life. He saw him, went out of his way and helped him. So that's always inspired me as a health care provider to help my fellow man. Or even if someone makes a poor choice or does something that I wouldn't do, to have that compassion towards them.
The second would be my wife, Sarah. My family is very important to me. We have four kids, age 3 to 13, and they're a big motivation behind what I do. Some of it comes in handy at home — cuts and scrapes, choking, stuff like that. But she also inspires me to be the best that I can be. She holds the ropes so I can work those crazy shifts. I miss birthdays and Christmases, things like that but having her support through it that's the biggest part.
What have you done that has been most fulfilling?
Sometimes you have to go through several calls of people who aren't that sick to get to that person who really needs you, so it's hard to keep yourself ready and keep yourself vigilant for when that one really sick patient where you could make a huge difference in their life comes along. When you get to that point, you take care of somebody, a lot of times they're either sick enough they can't express thank you or they're sick enough they don't really know all of the things you did to help, but when you get to the hospital and you hand them off and they go through advanced care and you hear about how they maybe made a full recovery or whatever. So to me it's that quite satisfaction that you know in heart you know that that person is maybe there today because of something you did. They may not have known that you were there, but the fact that you were able to be there for them and help them and they're able to go home to their family, that's one of the more rewarding things.
What is something you are proud of that you've been recognized for?
I've been a youth pastor at Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church in Holts Summit for about a year and a half. We had a student who needed some help, so we were able to invest in them and let them know that we care about them. They had some teenage issues come up in their life, so being able to help them through that process and for that person to just recognize that we care about them and we wanted to help them and we weren't there to show judgement or anything like that, but we wanted to help them tackle that problem to become a better person and come out on the other side having dealt with that problem and having the confidence to know that they could handle whatever came their way in life. So having them come back and say thanks for that, that was probably pretty big for me.
At work, I've been employee of the year before so that's always nice when your co-workers appreciate you and what you do. But really, I think the biggest reward I have is helping new people and helping them get on their feet. There's an EMT that worked with me for about a year and he's now going through paramedic school, and every time I see him he's always telling me thank you for taking the time to teach him means a lot to me. That kind of recognition is what I go for. I don't need that pzazz or flashing lights, just that quit satisfaction of helping someone out and then them helping other people because of something you did.
If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?
I think I would have my own Bluegrass Gospel band. I play the guitar, so if I was way better at it than I am that would be cool.
What is a job you wouldn't want to do?
Before I got my first EMT job, I worked for about three months as a telemarketer and I strongly disliked it. I hated bothering people and interrupting their dinner. So I always have a soft place in my heart for the person who calls me and wants to sell me something. I always try to let them down gently because I remember getting up in the morning and just dreading going in to go talk on the phone all day.
What is your favorite thing about Callaway County?
My favorite thing about Callaway County is probably the good people that I have met. I've seen people do amazing things to help their neighbors. I think of this one time we had like 17 inches of snow and I got to work that morning. We basically had to wade through waist-deep snow to get into this person's house and they were actually very sick. I was completely focused on caring for them. And while we were doing that, two neighbors came over and basically dug from the house out to the ambulance so we could get this lady out. They saved us so much time by doing that and really helped her and her recovery because we got her to the hospital in a quicker manner. I've just had random strangers on car accident scenes show up who are just willing to help and they'll do whatever you ask. So I would say seeing how people come together during a disaster or emergency and just be there for their fellow man. That, to me, is very awesome.
The other thing I like about Callaway County is the history. There's a lot of history and I'm kind of a history buff. The Churchill Museum, there's a ton of history in this county and I appreciate that and I think it's something to learn from. And then just the people. Speaking from a youth pastor point of view, I like getting to know people because I like helping them and figuring out what their needs are, especially for our younger generation. They face a lot of things we didn't have to face at their age, so trying to understand them and what they're up against and what I can do to help them.