Home | Biography | Forty-Eight X | Future Books | Stories | Credits | Media | Contact

CARL PRICE

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 suited me.”

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 job.”

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.”