PRESTON, Miss. (WTOK) - In our 117th First Responders, we ride up to Kemper County where we find someone who makes it his daily goal to better the lives of those around him. We meet firefighter Matthew Smith at the Preston Volunteer Fire Department.
"To them it might be the worst thing they've ever experienced. They just want to know that somebody is there that can deal with it and keep calm, knowing everything is going to be okay," Smith says.
In the town of Preston, the residents rely on people like Matthew Smith in a time of need.
"I've been active in the fire department since I was 16. My father is actually the only founding member of the department that is still active today," Smith says.
Smith is the chief of the Preston Volunteer Fire Department. He's been in this position since 2011.
"Through high school I thought this may have been something I wanted to do. It was actually a friend of mine that got me into the medical portion of it," Smith says.
Smith is also an EMT in Jasper County. His roots in public service and helping others runs deep.
"My mother is a nurse. She has been a nurse for around 20 years. She would come home and talk about the day and things she had experienced. That kind of led my interest," Smith says.
Smith says becoming chief at a young age can be quite the task. But he says the department is a team. He says it's been great to have family support.
"It does take a very strong and supportive family. I'm gone two of three days at a time or on a fire call at 3:00 a.m. They're there for me," Smith explains.
He says he doesn’t see himself slowing any time soon.
"As long as I can, I guess. I have no cutoff for it," Smith 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.