MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - In First Responders we travel to Sandflat Road in Lauderdale County where we meet Doug Stephens. Stephens is the coordinator of the training facility that is responsible for teaching hundreds of first responders every year.
Over time, it turned into a true passion for wanting to help others,” Stephens says.
Doug Stephens is born and raised in the city of Meridian. He began as a rookie fireman. Fast-forward roughly 19 years later, he is the training coordinator for the training facility.
“I learned that I have a knack for teaching others. I had a very different way of doing it. I teach by example,” Stephens explains.
His job consists of organizing multiple training programs first responders are required to have.
“Our day to day activities include planning and training the first responders to go out and serve the public,” Stephens says.
Stephens says he has a passion for helping others through the important role of teaching and training. After ten years, Stephens has played a key role in making sure first responders are ready when called into action.
Stephens is also a part of emergency management and responds when needed to things like search and rescue and chemical spills.
He’s married with four children and a grandchild. He says his career takes up a lot of time, but they support him and his passion for helping others.
“They are understanding that when I get called to work that it’s because somebody else’s life has been disrupted. They understand that we are a small part of trying to put that life back together,” Stephens says.
Stephens says the public training facility plays a key role for law enforcement, fire departments and rescue teams and first aid. They offer a multitude of different real-world scenarios for practice.
One includes a hands-on simulation of an Amtrak train that has crashed. This is one of only two trains used in the country for this kind of training. There are old trucks, a ton of woodland for search and rescue, as well as a large concrete structures that include tunnels and simulate a bridge collapse.
Stephens says he doesn’t see himself changing what he does for a long time. He says he has a vision for the training facility that he would like to see happen in real life.
“I’ve heard a couple of different people talking about it being a gold mine. We’ve just barely cracked the surface on what we can provide out here as far as emergency service training,” Stephens says.
To stay up to date with our First Responders series tune in every Sunday night for Newscenter 11 at 10:00 p.m. and on Good Morning Meridian on Monday mornings.