Corey Lane moved to Madison five years ago to finish college at Georgia Military College with a goal of getting a degree in cyber security and moving back to his hometown of McDonough.
“Madison was a far cry from where I lived, much smaller and much more community-oriented,” Lane said. “When I moved here, I had no intention of doing anything in public safety at all.”
He was going to go into the civilian contractor cyber security field but the day he moved to Madison, all that changed.
“The first day I moved up here, I had to get a few things from Walmart, and I came up on a wreck and didn’t see anyone around,” Lane recalled. “I got out of my car and helped stabilize the driver with what limited medical knowledge I had at the time, first aid and combat lifesavers courses, until the fire department arrived and took over for me and I stayed to leave a statement.”
Later, word got around to the chief at the time, Tim Carter, and he extended an invitation for Lane to come to a week drill and see if volunteering with the fire department would be something he was interested in.
“After the first drill night, I was hooked,” Lane said. “I couldn’t get enough of the fire department.”
Over the next eight months, Lane completed the City of Madison Fire Department’s required courses, Firefighter 1 and Hazmat training. Since completing the required courses, Lane has elected to continue his training in different specialized fields like fire apparatus operations, a BLEVE course and earning his Emergency Medical Technician license.
“Atop of all of this training, firefighters/ EMTs are required to complete a certain amount of yearly continuing education hours,” Lane said. “You are always studying or training on something.”
Lane joined the City of Madison Fire Department in 2015 as a volunteer and quickly took an intern position.
“The intern position taught me more of the day-to-day operations of a fire department, the cleaning, the maintenance, the unbelievable amount of paperwork that exists and the different types of calls the fire department responds to,” Lane said.
Lane said he remembers the first call he got: a car wreck on Hwy 83.
“As soon as that pager went off, I think my heart moved to my throat,” Lane said. “The adrenaline jump was unreal. The call had no real merit to it. It was a somewhat average call, no one was hurt thankfully, but that first one sticks with you.”
Lane’s intern position quickly turned to a part time position, and in July 2019, he transitioned to be a full-time firefighter with the city. During his time working part-time with the City of Madison, Lane was approached by a few of his friends who were working at the Old Salem Fire Department in Greene County about checking it out and coming on part-time there. After a visit, interview and a few ride-along shifts, Lane decided to join the department part-time.
“I decided to follow through going part-time with Old Salem because I saw it as an opportunity to work in a completely different region with different firefighters from different areas and bring a lot of that training back to the City of Madison,” Lane said.
As most people know, Old Salem was absorbed by Greene County around October 2019 and meshed into a countywide fire department.
“That’s the unique part of working for what was Old Salem, now Greene County, this department employs firefighters from all over,” Lane said.
Firefighters come from rural departments like Morgan and Oconee counties to large metro Atlanta departments like DeKalb, Gwinnett and City of Atlanta. Lane said every shift usually results in a discussion about different techniques and topics of firefighting.
“Regardless of what side you fall on, everyone leaves with a different way to look at or do things,” Lane said. “As quoted by a man 100 times the firefighter I’ll ever be once told me, ‘it’s tools for the toolbox.’”
Lane said his job is physically, mentally and, at times, emotionally demanding and that you never know what you’re going to get but that’s what keeps it fresh — the unknown.
“The job has a lot of humbling moments in it as well,” Lane said. “When you are approached by a person who you interacted with on a call or in the back of an ambulance or when you see the wide smile of a child who is enamored with your fire truck, that really affirms that I do truly have the best job in the world.”