Since 1995, the United States has recognized every March as Women’s History Month. During this month we celebrate the contributions and achievements that women, both past and present, have made over the course of American history, culture and community. To celebrate Women’s History Month, Columbia Southern University is honored to recognize students, alumnae and faculty who are playing a vital role in leadership within their respective industries.
At six years old, Amber Stine told her mother that one day she would be a firefighter. Growing up around firefighters in a small town easily influenced her desired career even more, but it was witnessing those same firefighters in action years later that really struck a chord.
“At 20 years old, I watched my sister’s dad be rescued from a grain silo by many of those same firefighters,” she said. “I returned to my college counselor a few days later and changed to the paramedic science degree program. After working a few years as a paramedic, my friend and mentor, Captain Jim Noll, recommended I try out for the fire department, and that’s all she wrote.”
Amber has also been a member of the Indiana Army National Guard since May of 2010, serving as a combat medic.
“I have served in this role with a Medical Company Area Support, a Military Police Company and Brigade Engineer Battalion,” she said. “In these units, I have served as an evacuation medic, platoon medic and team leader for a battalion medical section. I am currently deployed in Eastern Europe with an Infantry Brigade Combat Team as a site security manager for DEERS.”
Serving in the Army National Guard and as a firefighter paramedic, Amber says she has had few challenges working in male-dominated fields. Though, she has been told before that she didn’t have what it takes to be apart of their world.
“To overcome that adversity, I worked harder than those around me, proved eager to learn and put in my all at training,” she said. “I think staying humble has also helped me overcome adversity because when I need help with a task, I ask for help instead of trying to do it myself. I have amazing co-workers who love to teach and assist when needed. We truly embody the brotherhood and sisterhood concept in our department.”
Amber’s voice to encourage women in her field is motivated by her desire to be a role model to, not only those who watch her on the job, but to her children.
“As a mother to four beautiful daughters, they look up to me daily,” she said. “I want them, and all other girls to know that our gender doesn’t define us, and we can do anything we set our minds to. Working in a male-dominated profession is attainable with the right mindset and support system.”
Looking to raise the number of women in her field, Amber says to understand the intricacies of firefighting, you must first understand the science behind what makes fire, and as a current student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in fire administration, CSU gave her that opportunity.
“Contrary to belief, it’s not just pulling hoses off the fire truck and spraying water onto the fire,” she said. “You have to be physically fit. We are athletes in this career, but our helmets happen to be shaped a little differently. I would advise other women who want to pursue a career as a firefighter/paramedic to research the requirements and set goals. It requires a lot of continued education to maintain your paramedic license and keep up to date with the latest science and tactics for firefighting. My degree will impact my career by allowing me the opportunity for growth within my fire department.”
Even in such a high-pressure career, Amber never fails to recognize her purpose as a firefighter and paramedic. It is something she proudly carries, and does so knowing she’s making a difference.
“The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that I get to impact people’s lives for the better,” she said. “From helping someone during a medical emergency, saving a family heirloom during a fire or even helping the next generation of firefighters enter this career. I have been blessed to meet so many different people from many walks of life and gained over 360 brothers and sisters from this career path.”