Dan Byrne is a firefighter and paramedic in Beaufort, South Carolina; his wife Angela is a teacher there. After a 2016 school shooting in a nearby school, the Byrnes asked a question most do when tragedy strikes: “What can we do?”
Together, they developed a program that would provide life-saving kits to schools, giving classrooms the tools and training needed to help offset injury before first responders can arrive.
It is called the JACOB Kit Program, named after Jacob Hall, a 6-year-old who died after that fatal school shooting in 2016. The program is now in all of Beaufort County buildings and beginning to spread throughout the country.
It is the life-saving, forward-thinking nature of this program, as well as the legacy to Jacob Hall, that Dan Byrne and his department were named the winner of the 2018 Thomas Carr Community Service Award.
Thomas Carr was a fire chief in Montgomery County, Maryland, and Charleston, South Carolina. The award recognizes departments that are positively changing lives in the communities they serve.
Byrne received a bachelor’s in fire science from CSU in 2009.
“When I started my career I just wanted to be a firefighter. I just wanted to serve my community and pull hose forever,” he said. “As I began my studies, I looked at everything differently. I found better ways to serve, a different way to look at fire and EMS and I began to advance in this profession. I now am able to do so much more for my community and department that I would never have known had I not started my college education.”
The JACOB Kits, which are in accordance with homeland security’s National Preparedness Goal, are currently funded solely through donations and grants.
Byrne says his education helped shape some of his community involvement and how he interacts with other government officials for the greater good of the community.
“My undergraduate degree from CSU set a firm academic foundation and gave me a wider vision of my profession and career,” he said. “One of the greatest things I learned that has been a tremendous benefit to me is how local governments work and how the fire service fits into the bigger picture. This has enabled me to work closer and more efficiently with my community and community leaders.”