Troy, Mo. - When Justin Anderson walks into the his vocation as a paramedic for the Lincoln County Ambulance District, he makes it his vacation.
A wicked sense of humor - and the moustache to match - also balances out with an unique ability to be empathetic to coworkers and those he is tasked to help.
“There’s so much more to this job than skill,” said LCAD Chief Administrator Ray Antonacci. “Sometimes holding a hand is the most important thing we can provide.”
Anderson has handled some of the social media campaigns for LCAD, including a few of the Facebook spots during the Ambulance District’s successful Prop Ambulance campaign.
“I was a very small part of that. It was a team effort,” Anderson said. “We needed to get people informed of what was going on.”
“He has great maturity and worldliness that makes for an emphathetic paramedic,” Antonacci said.
Anderson’s outlook on life was forged through a tough childhood. The St. Charles County native joined the United States Army as soon as he was able, and served in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2008, before being discharged in 2012.
“It was some of the best, and worst, times of my life,” he said. “It made me the person I am today.”
After discharge, Anderson became an equipment mechanic before starting nursing school at St. Charles Community College. While there, he helped start a veteran’s group.
It was at that same time Anderson discovered his life’s calling.
“Once I found out about being a paramedic, this is what I wanted to do for sure,” he said. “This was the same type of camaraderie I had in the military, just people having your back.”
During a ride-along with the LCAD in 2016, Anderson impressed Antonacci enough that the district took a chance on him with the promise he would attend and graduate EMT school.
Anderson kept his promise, and was hired on as a part-time later that year.
Three years later, he would join the LCAD as a full-time paramedic - and Anderson can’t imagine being anywhere else.
“This place has been the dream job,” he said. “I don’t know where I’d be without my LCAD family, from my partner, to the administration.
“They’d do anything for me, and I’d do anything for them.”
Anderson knows in his line of work there will be dark days. However, he is confident is his ability to handle those days where he might lose someone he is tasked to save.
“I have my outlets,” he said. “I love playing guitar. I love singing.
“I love seeing my kids. Seeing my kids takes the pain away.”
Anderson also said using his videos can help others. As a veteran, he said he has lost friends due to mental health issues, so he wants to help as many people as possible.
“In my videos, I like to say ‘it’s okay not to be okay,’” he said. “You’re not going to feel great every single day.
“You have to have those kinds of (positive) outlets.”