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Two sides of the rescue coin

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Vernon R. Walter III
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Sinéad Brosnan, the daughter of two Irish immigrants, searched for something more meaningful to do with her time in the small town of Florida, New York. Something that would give her and her family a sense of pride. More than after school sports or succeeding academically. As a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, there was probably not much to do in the small town of 2,800 people. Her friends, volunteer firefighters, told her that she should become a volunteer EMT to satisfy that desire.

She loved being the first to help people in need and give back to the community. However, when her hometown could no longer support the volunteer program, she joined her friends in firefighting. With her previous experience, she managed to keep a level head and adapt quickly.

Now at age 22, Airman 1st Class Sinéad Brosnan, 27th Special Operations Healthcare Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician, continues to juggle her passions for firefighting and medicine.

“It’s what I love to do,” Brosnan said. “I like to give back and help people in need. Getting my hands dirty, being in the action, the adrenaline of it all. It’s what I live for.”

In college, Brosnan focused on her nursing degree, but still managed to become a certified EMT and work in emergency medical services. While doing all that, she kept up with all the necessary drills required to stay eligible as a volunteer firefighter.

“One of the best skills that translated between the jobs was keeping calm in a situation where I had someone’s life in my hands,” Brosnan said. “There’s a quote I really love that goes ‘in the midst of the moment and chaos, keep the stillness inside you.’ That skill of keeping a level head even when I felt panic made me a better person to keep my coworkers and myself calm.”

According to members of her old team, Brosnan excelled at being a firefighter, being able to provide medical aid after pulling someone from a fire.

“Sinéad was an exceptional firefighter,” said John Greenhill, Florida Fire Department fire chief. “She joined us at 16 and was a fully trained firefighter by 18. She had no problem going into a burning building or fighting a motor vehicle fire. When we needed it, she was the first to step up and change hats from a firefighter to an EMT and aid in treating a victim.”

Even while still going to college, working, and volunteering, Brosnan wanted to do bigger and better things, to help more people. So she tried out for the New York City Fire Department. After not hearing any results, she decided to join the Air Force. Three days after swearing in, she was contacted by the FDNY and told she had passed the application.

“It was definitely a bit of a bummer,” Brosnan said. “But the Air Force could provide a lot for me. It was hard to pick between a medical career and firefighting, but there’s more diverse career paths in the medical field. Also, as the daughter of two Irish immigrants, being the first in my family to go both military and medical gives me a real sense of pride.”

Brosnan’s experience and learned skills would continue to make those around her proud through her time in the Air Force, while being stationed at Cannon Air Force Base.

Two weeks after becoming an Airman 1st Class, she was selected as a team leader in the 2018 EMT Rodeo. Air Force medical teams from world-wide installations congregated at Cannon to compete and prove their deployed readiness and in-garrison capabilities with the best taking home first place. Brosnan led Cannon’s representatives to an overall 6th place. Brosnan said she wanted to work harder and aim for the top the following year.

In the 2019 Medic Rodeo, learning from the prior year’s experience, she led the Cannon Medical Group team to 2nd place, losing to Hurlburt Field’s team by the smallest of margins, a tenth of a point. While disappointing, it shows the improvement Brosnan could make in a year.

“She was recognized by some of the most prominent people in our career field for a reason,” said Senior Master Sgt. Stacy Pilgrim, 27 SOHCOS senior enlisted leader. “She was coined because of her drive and leadership. She is a top-notch Airman that always has the best interest for those around her. During the Medic Rodeo and her daily job, she’s putting her team and patients first.”

Wanting to keep doing what she loves and better her career, Brosnan plans to get into the Independent Duty Medical Technician program to become a Special Operations Forces Medical Element member. It will provide her the opportunity to provide emergency medical support to special operations members.

“I love my job but I want to get my hands dirty again,” Brosnan said. “I know I’m helping by doing stuff like desk work and taking blood pressures but it’s not what really want. The mission here has really inspired me to better myself, and hopefully I can fuel the adrenaline junkie in me by taking on such a challenging career.”

Though Brosnan leaves Cannon’s firefighting team to their work, she still volunteers with her original team back home while on leave, an indulgence her home unit doesn’t take for granted.

“We look forward to her return, but we do understand that most likely won’t be for another 20 years,” Greenhill said. “Her passion and care for patients is amazing. Her calling is in emergency services, it’s where she belongs.”