Frazier senior tackles community responsibilities
Chances are — no, this is not a bio tribute to Johnny Mathis – that a high school student who has a 4.0 grade average and No. 9 ranking in his senior class, is a member of the National Honor Society and an officer in his school's Foreign Language Club and plays football, basketball, and baseball, would not get in trouble.
So, what to do with any extra time? Frazier senior Paul Pellick has the answer.
He spends three to four hours each week as a firefighter — his status as junior fireman recently changed to fireman with his 18th birthday — with the Grindstone Fire Department and another 16 hours per week, mostly weekends, as a dispatcher for Brownsville Ambulance Service.
“I like to stay busy and out of trouble,” Pellick said, chucking.
Get in trouble? Probably not.
“Staying busy” is an understatement.
Examining Pellick's worth, Frazier football coach Mike Steeber said, “Too bad he did not come out sooner,” noting Pellick spent only his senior year, his first year of varsity football, on the field with the Commodores as offensive guard. “For playing his first year he was the ultimate team player. He did all we asked. Paul played on our special teams and led our kickoff team in tackles. He was our special teams player of the week several times and was steady all season.”
Pellick's value off the field grows, as Grindstone Fire Department chief and Brownsville Ambulance Service Supervisor of Operations Richie Link said, succinctly, “I wish I had five more like him. He does it all. He is doing it right, at such a young age. As dispatcher he caught on quickly. His development has been amazing,and he fully understands his job and what is expected of him.”
With the fire department Pellick helps in any and every way possible, Link added, with fundraising, selling tickets, hoagie sales and bingos all included.
“We know he will be there to help,” Link added.
Seeing his family's involvement with the fire department spurred his efforts to help his community. His grandfather, Paul Sr., is a retired member of the department; his father, Paul Jr., assistant fire chief, and an uncle, Tony Pellick, an officer in the department. Additionally, his younger brother, Todd, 16, is a junior firefighter.
“I've seen how important these two departments are to the community,” Pellick said, noting he became involved with the fire department the day he turned 16 two years ago. “I've seen firsthand how the community depends on these services and what is involved. I wanted to help any way I could. It's a way for me to help both communities. My family is close to Richie, and he introduced me to what has to be done. These jobs, even though they are with different departments, go hand in hand, the fire department and ambulance service.”
As junior fireman, Pellick was responsible for washing the trucks, removing the equipment from the trucks and making sure everything was in working order for the firefighters. His firefighting was limited to duties outside burning buildings. However, since he recently turned 18, his status has changed, and he is permitted to enter those buildings.
“It's very intense, fighting fires,” Pellick said. “It's nerve-wracking, and you face many crucial issues when fighting fires. There is so much to be done in a small amount of time.”
As dispatcher, Pellick, who resides in Grindstone, spends some 16 hours weekly in the position, fielding 911 calls from Fayette and Washington counties, as he maintains an acute awareness of all locales.
His function is to “send crews to appropriate places in the shortest amount of time,” he said. “I call an ambulance service, depending on which one is available or closest to the scene (of an accident). It took me about a month to get used to the job. Now everything appears to be running fine.” Link offers no argument.
With high school graduation some seven months away, Pellick's future is as clear as his roles of fireman and dispatcher. He has his sights set on attending either California University of Pennsylvania or Penn State Fayette Eberly Campus to major in mathematics, with a teaching career in mind.
But come summer, his role with the fire department will change, slightly. Even though Pellick plays third base for the Commodores baseball team, he will roam the outfield on the fire department's softball team, fulfilling his department's role of doing whatever is necessary to help the team.
Les Harvath is a freelance writer.