Firefighter Q&A: Michael Garberg
Captain Michael Garberg has worked with Cloquet Area Fire District for more than 13 years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has caused drastic changes to the way he deals with patients and life at the station.
Name: Michael Garberg
Occupation: Captain, paramedic
Department: Cloquet Area Fire District
What inspired you to become a firefighter and paramedic?
My dad was a volunteer firefighter my whole life growing up, and so I got a lot of exposure through that. I also just really like that whole team aspect of the job, and you’re actually doing something that makes a difference in somebody’s life.
What is most challenging about your job and why?
I think one of the challenges is actually a fun challenge — it’s the multitude of different disciplines we have to be good at. Fire, all aspects of rescue, vehicle extrications and the medical side. There’s a lot of training and a lot of proficiencies that have to be done on a bunch of different aspects and that makes it exciting. It’s never boring, for sure.
Describe a memorable moment from your time with CAFD.
I would say the more memorable portions — obviously, you’ve got all those big calls — but it’s really meeting people and getting to know them in the back of an ambulance ... Going on lift assists and being able to help somebody else and help pick them up. It’s those simple things that tend to be the more memorable things
How has the pandemic changed how you do your job?
There’s a lot more cleaning and disinfecting — which we have always done — but also the station and everything else, there’s just a lot more of that going on.
With all the (personal protective equipment) we’re wearing and we’re trying to limit who interacts with patients, trying to cut down on our exposure to them and their exposure to us. Then with station life, we’re trying to separate at the station. We live here a third of our life and the big thing is doing activities together — like eating supper together is a big one. Now we’re not really trying to do that stuff because we’re trying to distance in our station.
More about Michael Garberg:
Experience: 13 years with CAFD,15 years as a paramedic
Hometown: Twin Valley, Minnesota.
Education: Associate degree in fire technology and administration from Lake Superior College in Duluth
Family: Garberg lives in Cloquet with his wife and two children
Favorite quarantine activity: Biking or playing sports in the yard with the kids.
Editor's note: This story is part of a weekly feature on first responders and medical personnel who are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you know someone who should be featured, email reporter Jamey Malcomb at firstname.lastname@example.org .