Fifteen years ago, a young Demetriuse Claiborne, Jr. and his fiance, LaTasha, began making serious plans for their futures together. LaTasha was a nurse and encouraged her future husband to look into similar, stable careers like firefighting or something in the health care field.
Fast forward to 2021. The young couple is now married with a beautiful 11-year-old daughter, and Demetriuse is a Lieutenant Firefighter/EMT with the Vicksburg Fire Department.
Looking back, Claiborne said, “I didn’t fully realize exactly what went into this career. This is not an easy job like the public perceives it to be, and like I thought it would be myself. It’s equally physically and mentally draining.”
Claiborne said he realized just how taxing the job can be when he received his first DOA (dead on arrival) call.
“I learned early this was a serious, tough career choice, and it was not for the weak at heart.”
Even though it means a lot of time away from his family, Claiborne wouldn’t change a thing.
Fire chief, Craig Danczyk, is glad of that. He said, “Lieutenant Claiborne is one of our newly promoted Lieutenants on C-Shift. He brings a lot of experience coming off the rescue, and has always been an asset, especially during the pandemic.”
Of the pandemic and its effect on his life, Claiborne said, “I watch the people I basically live with at the station get exposed to the virus, and even though we take all precautions to stay safe and not take it home to our families, the possibility of that happening is very real. I’ve also watched the stress it puts on the department as a whole. Our call volume has definitely increased. I wish it would go away so we can get back to normal life.”
Claiborne also loves the camaraderie with all of his co-workers. “I get to work with a great group of guys. We have a real brotherhood and they are all there to help whenever you need them on or off the job.”
Those relationships are crucial. “We have to spend so much time with each other, we are like family. We have to personally get to know each other to work better as a team and get along to get the job done and get it done right.”
One person in particular has meant a lot to Claiborne, Chief Darrel Flaggs.
“I worked under him when he was a captain and he would always give me advice about work and life in general. He had a lot of knowledge to share and I’m very thankful for the time I had with him.”
He credits both his work family and his real family for his success and longevity in his field. “There have been times that I’ve thought I can’t do this anymore, like after a call where I couldn’t save someone. But my wife and the other guys help me keep on goin by reminding me of all the successful calls we’ve had and the people we’ve helped.”