Rhusha Mack, a firefighter for Martinez-Columbia Fire and Rescue, is also a deputy coroner for McDuffie County and a volunteer fireman in Dearing, Harlem and McDuffie County.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Rhusha Mack says he loves his job as a firefighter for Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue.
And it's evident to anyone listening to Mack's enthusiastic announcement to dispatchers that his engine is on the way to an emergency.
"I like working here," said Mack, a First Responder stationed at the department's Furys Ferry Road station. "Every job has its good days and bad days, but I can pretty much say that the good days outweigh the bad ones as far as I am concerned."
But Mack, 42, of Thomson, doesn't just serve the Martinez-Evans area. When not working a 24-hour shift every third day at the station where he also drives the fire engine, he serves as the deputy coroner for McDuffie County and is a volunteer firefighter for fire departments in Harlem, Dearing, Thomson and McDuffie County. He also is a member of the McDuffie County's Rescue Squad.
"I guess it's just something I do," Mack said. "I probably couldn't give you three good reasons why I do it. I guess there must be something in me that drives me to help people in more than one way."
Martinez-Columbia Chief Doug Cooper said Mack, a nearly 18-year department veteran, is an asset.
"The only thing I can say about Rhusha is that we are proud to have him up here, and he is as good as they come," Cooper said. "Anytime he goes out, I don't have to worry one bit. ... You won't ever see him when he is not happy."
Mack considered a career in truck driving after high school. But he said being an avid watcher of the 1970s emergency drama Emergency! and Emergency One! and seeing and talking to firefighters outside the Thomson fire station that he passed regularly changed his mind. Mack soon became a dispatcher for the Harlem Police Department.
"I went to every (fire) call that I heard that I could go to," said Mack, who lives in Thomson with his wife, Brenda, who is a McDuffie County paramedic, and 8-year-old daughter Ja-Kayla.
"It's been 20 years. I thank the people up there for giving me the opportunity to do it, for giving me the chance."
On days off, Mack said he might try to grab a little extra rest, but the phone rarely stops ringing long enough. And Mack said he just doesn't have time for hobbies such as fishing or golf.
"He loves fire service," Cooper said.
Mack said he hopes to pursue his EMT certification and to one day retire from the Martinez-Columbia department. He said it's a life that comes with a tremendous support system of a loyal brotherhood of firefighters and other emergency responders - a brotherhood that he said he relied on when his 10-year-old son, Lemart, died nearly two years ago from an unusual form of cancer.
"I can truthfully say that when I went through the trouble - the times I had my son in the hospital and when he died - these guys really supported me 100 percent," he said.
"I could never repay them for what they've done for me during that time."
And Mack also gives his thanks to a higher source.
"The most I can do is thank God for letting me do it,'' he said. "Without God, I couldn't do this job."
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