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UCFD #1 Hot Seat: Kyle Rutherford

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It’s time for the fifteenth edition of the UCFD #1 Hot Seat. The Hot Seat provides a brief snapshot sharing the story of a highly committed and dedicated staff member.

It is with great pleasure UCFD #1 introduces to you; Kyle Rutherford. An Oregon native, Rutherford was born in McMinnville, OR. He spent the first 2 years of his life in Chefornak, AK, where his father got his administrative start as a principal. Soon thereafter his family relocated down to Beaverton, OR, where Rutherford spent his childhood outside, exploring and adventuring with his school buddies. After high school, Rutherford quickly realized he didn’t want a nine to five office job like most people— he wanted something that involved problem solving as well as an adrenaline rush. Around this time Kyle lost his younger brother Scott. “My brother passed away and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, so I ended up talking to a few close friends of mine. They were already in the fire service, and told me that I should try it out. One thing led to another, I got my EMT and started volunteering soon after,” recalled Rutherford. He attended Portland Community College (PCC) to get his EMT certification and then started volunteering with the Corvallis Fire Department. Rutherford looked through a variety of opportunities for emergency services in the Valley, and decided to take his schooling a step further by enrolling at Chemeketa Community College, where he got his paramedic license. The Dallas Fire Department had an internship opportunity that Rutherford jumped on, and after spending some time working for Dallas, he put his paramedic license to the test and started a career with Falck Ambulance Services. This didn’t last too long, because there was one vital piece missing — fire. “I missed going on fires. I knew I didn’t want to work for a private ambulance. I liked the fire aspect of emergency services too much,” says Rutherford.

Consequently, Rutherford looked at what departments across the state were hiring, and found himself a spot here at Umatilla County Fire District #1. He was hired in 2017 with several of his fellow crew members. “I was hired with Wes Blood, Gaige Phillips, Jeremy Griffith, Kelly Shelton and Gabe Billings — that whole group of guys,” he remembers. After spending some time working in Hermiston, Rutherford found what makes this place so special, “I enjoy the culture here. I grew up in the valley and it’s a lot different over there. I’ve never been about the whole ‘rat race’. My folks still live in Beaverton so when I go back and visit I can feel the difference,” exclaims Rutherford. Currently, he works on B-Shift, which is led by Battalion Chief Ed Clark. “I really like the crew I work with and it wouldn’t surprise me if this shift is one of the ones I’ll look back on and remember when I retire. When I worked with these guys and we just smashed it,” explains Rutherford. “Our shift is awesome because even some of the biggest calls seem to go really smoothly. Everybody’s really good at filling in where they need to, and it never gets too hectic. There are jobs that we all have to get done and we just do ‘em,” he adds.

Above all else, nothing quite compares to the thrill Rutherford gets from being with his family when he’s not working. “I spend most of my free time with the kids. I have two little ones. My son, Henry, just turned five, and my daughter, June, is two and a half. Most of my free time is spent hanging out with them and my wife in the great outdoors. The little man loves riding his 50cc dirt bike so we spend a lot of time doing that,” says Rutherford. Back when he was working towards his paramedic license at PCC he met his wife, Jasmine. “She went to school with my brother who passed away. They were really good friends. Her and I just happened to have class at the same time and we parked in the same lot. I recognized her vehicle and we ended up walking to class together. Then, one day, I asked her if she wanted to go to lunch and she said yes. I picked her up and took her to a burger joint in town that was this hole in the wall spot that made awesome hamburgers. The rest was history,” recalled Rutherford. Jasmine gave Rutherford a coin that reads “KEEP ME SAFE” that he carries inside of his fire helmet at all times. He also has the initials of his brother, SCR, stamped on his suspenders that he wears under his bunker gear. These tokens help keep the people important in his life close to him at all times. If Kyle has alone time he spends it riding his motorcycle, hunting, or fishing. “I just really like this side of the state. There is a lot of great stuff to do outdoors really close by,” he says.

All in all, Rutherford has found his calling here at Umatilla County Fire District #1 as a firefighter/paramedic. This job can be very rewarding, especially when you get to see the work you do make a difference in someone’s life. “Some of the best calls are the calls where you can really see what you’re doing is working. In the cardiac arrest setting, I’ve been a part of saving multiple lives and it is awesome to see those community members we saved show up at the station just to say hi. If someone has a respiratory problem and we can fix it right there and see them get better in real time that feels pretty awesome. Those times where you actually get to see what you’re doing is working in real time is really rewarding,” explains Rutherford. When Kyle and his crew aren’t out on calls they are most likely down in the training pit at Station 23 putting their skills to the test. Rutherford received the Excellence in Training Award in 2020 at UCFD #1. He encourages anyone who is interested in this career to come participate on a ride along, or come in to talk to us about what opportunities there are. “I don’t think you’ll find a better job anywhere else, mostly because the camaraderie here is something special,” Rutherford assures.

It is our goal to bring the community closer with our District by telling the stories of the men and women who represent Umatilla County Fire District #1. It’s better to meet them, before you need them.