Deaf People Saving Lives


There is nothing about Deaf people that stops them from working in any profession, including law enforcement: firefighters, police officers, emergency personnel, etc. These are the well-known stories of some of these people.

Imagen de bomberos sofocando intensas llamas


While firefighters in the United States can be either professional or volunteer, they all must pass training, an exam and many other requirements. Joe Ronan is a volunteer firefighter in the city of New Haven, about 87 miles north of New York, with a population of just over 800,000 people.

El bombero sordo Joe Ronan de Estados Unidos
Joe Ronan (photo: New Haven Register)

Joe was 21 years old when he graduated as a firefighter in 2012, is deaf since birth and uses American Sign Language. On fires, Joe needs little instruction from his fellow firefighters, such as being touched on his left or right leg to tell him which direction to turn. As a volunteer firefighter, he can assist on outside jobs such as forest fires or car accidents.

Another more recent example is that of Australian Damon Barrett: deaf since birth, 32 years old and an Australian sign language user since the age of 11. He had always wanted to volunteer but had not dared, even though in 2001 he was decorated for saving the life of a driver after a car accident. Finally, in 2015, he joined the bushfire team in Bredfordale, a rural setting in northeastern Australia.

At first, Damon was nervous, but now he even jokes:
Deaf peope can do anything, you don't have to be afraid. We won't bite.
El bombero sordo Damon Barrett de Australia
Damon Barrett (photo: Matt Devlin) 


Anthony Wallace worked as a police officer for four years in Hoonah, a small town of just 1,000 people in Alaska. Anthony had studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), a private university in New York, where he had also worked as a security guard between 2003 and 2006.

El policía sordo Anthony Wallace de Alaska
Anthony Wallace (photo: RIT)

Sadly, Anthony passed away in 2010 along with his partner, victims of a shooting. He was 32 years old and one of the few Deaf police officers working in the United States. In the following video you can see him working with his colleagues on how to interact with Deaf people and short clips of interviews (English subtitles):


Chad Grabousky has been an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) since 2013 in Bethlehem, a small city of about 70,000 people located between New York and Philadelphia in the United States. Prior to working professionally on an ambulance for an EMT company, he had also been a volunteer firefighter.

Chad has been deaf since birth and his boss is really happy with his work:
His patients love him, our staff loves him, and he actually does a wonderful job in back of the ambulance, better than some of my hearing staff.
El Técnico de Emergencias Médicas sordo Chad Grabousky de Filadelfia en Estados Unidos
Chad Grabousky (photo: Express-Times Photo | MATT SMITH)

Later, in July 2016, a woman has become the first deaf Emergency Medical Technician in Israel: Nechama Loebel, deaf since birth and 30 years old. Nechama works as a volunteer in an emergency organization called United Hatzalah, which has a great reputation in her country and even considered as heroes because of the difficult conditions in which they work.

To enable Nechama to do her job, the organization provides her with technological solutions (such as text alerts on her phone) and her colleagues will communicate with her through visual instructions.

La Técnico de Emergencias Médicas sorda Nechama Loebel del Estado de Israel
Nechama Loebel (photo: United Hatzalah)

There are probably many more deaf people who carry out their work anonymously but, in general, without any doubt, it is clear that they are as prepared to save lives as anyone else.


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