ALEXANDRIA, La. - After 14 years as a mortician, Donald Kerry decided to follow his childhood dream and save lives.
He's an emergency medical technician and firefighter for Holiday Village, otherwise known as Rapides Parish Fire District No. 4. And he's working on his paramedic certification.
The fire district covers more than 70 square miles. Kerry said the majority of its calls are medical, and firefighters often arrive before ambulance crews. It's important in an area where many people live more than a few minutes from a hospital, Kerry said.
Kerry said he wound up in embalming after missing school the day his classmates chose careers to shadow. The funeral home was the only one left.
"I told my teacher, 'There's no way I'm going to do this. You're crazy,'" Kerry said. "But she explained how much they made, and I thought I'd give it a chance."
He got interested. He began helping out with visitations and then went on to help staffers bring bodies to the funeral home. It was when he started watching the embalming process that he decided to go to school to be a mortician.
He worked in the funeral home industry from 1992 to 2006, and was working as a mortician in Dallas when he decided to go EMT school.
After he was certified, Kerry worked for Acadian Ambulance for a year, then started working for the Holiday Village Fire Department. He had volunteered for the agency while working for Acadian, but was hired as a part-time firefighter and EMT in 2007.
Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, http://www.thetowntalk.com