There is a fire station in Westlake Village.
Twelve men call it home for a good part of every
month. One of them is Carl Price. Shaggy haired,
with deep creased features, he is a tall, lanky
man who indeed looks like he can save your life.
Carl’s father was a fireman.
“Before World War II, my father was a civil
defense worker. At that time, civil defense was
under the L.A. County Fire Department. Once the
war was over, friends encouraged him to try out
for the department.“ His father retired in 1967.
After graduating from Bellflower High, Carl
went to Cerritos College. One side of his family
encouraged him to go into business. His grandfather
was in real estate.
“I never felt suited for office work. I was
more an adrenaline junky, big into drag racing,
and motorcycles.” And he was a competitor. He
won the winter nationals in his car class in 1964.
“The fire department didn’t pay well back then.
I wasn’t sure I really wanted it but my father
urged me to apply. And all of a sudden I was with
guys that really wanted the job. Guys I liked.
Competitive guys. And once I started competing
to get the job, I started really wanting the job.
And once I got the job, I realized how well it
In 1973, after completing a two day motorcycle
race, he came down ill with what he thought was
a bad cold, so bad a large lump developed on the
side of his neck. But it wasn’t a cold Carl had,
it was a form of cancer called Hodgkin’s. At that
time Carl thought cancer was death. But he underwent
radiation treatments and exploratory surgery.
He not only recovered, he began racing again,
winning a state championship.
“Beating cancer, winning a championship. I thought
I was invincible. I went into a ‘selfish spiral’
that almost ruined my marriage.”
At about that time, he began to ride with a
new partner, a fireman who was a devout Christian.
“All he would talk about was religion and the
bible. He challenged me. And I read.”
That fortuitous fellowship and the respect he
gained for the medical profession in his recovery
from Hodgkin’s led him to decide to become a paramedic.
“The best aspect of this job is being able to
help people. The worst part is that I’ve lived
here a long time and I know a lot of people in
the community. You go out on runs to heart attacks
or accidents and deal with people you’re close
to.” A boy he rode bikes with was killed in a
motorcycle accident. A neighbor died of a heart
attack. “For the family it’s very comforting when
someone comes in they’re familiar with. But you
carry that extra burden of trying to comfort the
family and control your emotions while doing your
The job can be quiet. The job can be frantic.
The job allows time to reflect and the opportunity
to see other people’s sufferings first hand. The
job and his experiences have taught Carl Price
- fireman, paramedic, L.A. County Fire Squad 144
- “not to waste days and give thought to what
you can do to make the most of your life.”