Cathy Jo Clark isn’t afraid of much in life. She lives by the ideal that anything worth doing in life requires hard work and determination. That mentality doesn’t afford her extra time for a spirit of fear.

As a young adult, she chose to go to work at a chicken processing plant over a basketball scholarship. Cathy Jo knew the traditional four-year college route wasn’t the path for her at that time. Though dedicated to her job at the poultry plant, she felt a desire to work in a faster-paced environment where she could make a difference in people’s lives in a direct way. As a teen, she had aspirations of becoming a flight medic. Enrolling in a local program to become an Emergency Medical Technician seemed to be a natural fit for her, and she completed her EMT training while working full time. That training would prove beneficial as she subsequently cared for her grandmother in the latter stages of a battle with breast cancer. She also worked for 12 years as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service while working as an EMT.

While her service as an EMT was enjoyable, Clark felt a calling to do more. She became interested in the idea of becoming an Advanced-level EMT. Advanced EMT’s are permitted to start IV’s and administer medicines, as well as intubation procedures and advanced management of various medical illnesses and traumatic injuries. Colleagues suggested the Alabama Fire College’s Advanced EMT program.

Photo courtesy of Cathy Jo Clark

Clark resides almost 120 miles away from Tuscaloosa in Enterprise, Mississippi. She employed by ASAP EMS in York, Alabama which is over 70 miles from the Fire College. Undeterred by the time constraints and amount of miles to cover, Clark completed the Fire College’s Advanced EMT program. She obtained licensure as an Advanced EMT in August 2019. Clark decided to continue with her training and education and was accepted into the Paramedic Program in September 2019.

Life throws a curveball

Am I afraid of cancer? No, I just gave it to God and let Him handle it.

Cathy Jo Clark

In December 2019, Clark was diagnosed with a type of breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Clark found herself now adding doctor’s appointments and medical tests to her already full schedule of working as an EMT in Sumter County, residing in Jasper County, Mississippi, and her Paramedic Program coursework and rotations in Tuscaloosa.

Cathy Jo didn’t let it stop her from completing her goal. She credits her faith and her support system of family, friends, and colleagues for helping her battle through cancer, surgeries, and completing many hours of studying, clinical rotations, and tests. We are proud to count Cathy Jo as part of our Fire College alumni family.