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News & Events

Pursuing a Passion: A Penchant for Putting Out Fires

08/13/2015

At Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children, our employees are known for their passionate dedication to our patients. For many of our staff, that passion for helping others in their professional lives is equaled in their personal endeavors. Here is a story of the fascinating work of one of your colleagues outside the Medical Center’s walls.

Four-year-old Anna Hale wants to be both a nurse and a firefighter when she grows up. While that might seem an unusual combination of career aspirations, if you know her father, Medical Director of Floating Hospital for Children’s Pediatric Hospitalist Service at Lawrence General Hospital Dan Hale, MD, it wouldn’t surprise you one bit. A physician by day and a certified firefighter by night and weekend, Dr. Hale has been putting out fires – both literally and figuratively—for more than a decade.

“As a child growing up in a small Wisconsin town, I remember hearing fire engines race by my house and everyone in our neighborhood rushing to help,” said Dr. Hale. “I had a few firefighters in my extended family and I loved that small town community spirit; I always knew eventually I’d be a part of both.”

After completing his residency in Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in 2004, Dr. Hale settled in nearby Kittery, an old-fashioned town that often relies on volunteers to support the community. That same year, he joined the Kittery Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter. Dr. Hale enjoyed fighting fires so much, he decided to attend the Fire Academy and became a certified firefighter in 2006.

Now an experienced firefighter, Dr. Hale estimates he has been involved in fighting at least 10 fires, including several in which he had to enter a building fully engulfed in flames. While his commitment to his patients remains his top priority, when Dr. Hale has time off from the hospital, his firefighter pager is turned on. While it may appear he’s living in two very different worlds, Dr. Hale believes his jobs actually share much in common.

“Teamwork and communication are critical to success as a doctor and a firefighter, when people’s health and safety are on the line,” said Dr. Hale. “I am able to fall back on training techniques and use critical thinking in stressful and emergency situations that require clear, quick thinking and decision-making. Management and leadership skills also are essential to function cohesively and both professions value the importance of safety checklists. There is no question that being a firefighter has made me a better physician and vice versa.”

While it may seem daunting to juggle two very demanding careers, Dr. Hale has found the right balance to succeed and excel, as his two American Academy of Pediatrics Service Awards, a Tufts University School of Medicine Excellence in Teaching recognition and the Kittery Fire Department’s 2013 Firefighter of the Year Award attest. Dr. Hale also recently received a medical grant to teach fire safety and install smoke detectors in homes that lacked them. Needless to say, if Anna Hale continues on her current desired career path, she has an excellent role model to emulate.