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Jace Pine (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Jace Pine (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Dec. 12, 2019

Pine’s coursework, profession-based experiences shaping his future

By Kala Dixon, communication assistant

Jace Pine began his time at Northwest Missouri State University believing he would be a full-time firefighter in Kansas City after graduation. But after taking a few emergency and disaster management (EDM) classes, he wasn’t so sure. 

Pine, a Platte City, Missouri, native, receives his bachelor’s degree this week in EDM and geographic information science with an emphasis in emergency response.

Pine joined the Central Platte Fire Protection District in Platte City before graduating high school and served as a volunteer firefighter. Immediately after graduating high school – a semester early – he joined the fire academy at Metropolitan Community College’s Blue River Public Safety Institute, where he obtained his Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Hazardous Materials Awareness and Hazardous Materials Operations certifications in 2015.

Going to college was Pine’s backup plan in case he was injured as a firefighter. He planned to use his degree to help him get an office job. But he had a change of heart after his first semester at Northwest.

“I fell right into it,” Pine said. “Right after that first semester, I realized it was something I was going to enjoy. I’ve always been the planning type. I’ve always liked to know what’s coming, and that’s a lot of what emergency management is – planning for the worst. I’ve always liked doing it, but I didn’t actually see it until I came here.”

In addition to his coursework at Northwest, Pine is a full-time firefighter for the Maryville Fire Department and an intern with Nodaway County Emergency Management. He works part-time for the Nodaway County Ambulance District and is a dispatcher for Maryville Public Safety.

“It kind of takes up your whole life,” Pine said. “Everything you do in your day revolves around the fire department. No matter what you’re doing, no matter what you’re planning, everything. You’re always looking at the weather to see if it’s going to be bad, looking to see if there’s going to be grassfires or car accidents.”

Being an emergency responder means that Pine must always be ready to jump in and help when needed.

“That’s the most challenging part,” Pine said. “It’s hard for me to go home because, on a night when it’s going to snow, I want to make sure I’m here if something happens.”

This lifestyle has its challenges, but to Pine the rewards heavily outweigh any doubts. 

“When you get the right day and you get a good stop on a fire and don’t lose the whole house, that’s a big deal to people,” Pine said. “I’ve seen people walk into their house and be able to carry out stuff that really meant something to them because we were able to stop the fire where it started. That’s the most rewarding part.”

Pine also participates as a staff member in Consortium for Humanitarian Service and Education exercises, which provide students and emergency responders a chance to test equipment and crisis plans.

One of Pine’s most memorable experiences at Northwest was participating in the Missouri Hope exercise in 2017 at Mozingo Outdoor Education and Recreation Area. Missouri Hope is an intensive three-day domestic disaster relief field training exercise required for students studying majors or minors in EDM. The event consists of simulation exercises in mass casualty response, overwater rescue, the incident command system, water treatment, high-angle rescue and disaster medical operations.

“I was operations on an exercise, and we had lightning two days straight. We had to re-design the whole exercise,” Pine said. “That day, we re-planned the whole exercise in about an hour, which we typically spend five to six months planning. That was a good day. It wasn’t how we wanted it to be, it wasn’t outside or quite as hands-on, but we got it all done and it was a good experience.”

Pine believes he’s career ready because of the coursework and experiences he gained during his years at Northwest. He is thankful for the lasting impacts of his instructors and mentors.

“The EDM program at Northwest is a very hands-on program; not all programs can be that way,” Pine said. “Our main professor, John Carr, is a guy who can sit down and plan one of these exercises in two days when it would take us six months. Dr. [Mark] Corson, who is a retired general from the United States Army, has a whole lot of real-world logistical planning. We get the best of both worlds.”

After graduating from Northwest, Pine will begin pursuing his master’s degree through Oklahoma State University’s online fire and emergency management administration program.


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215