Being married to a first responder is tough — especially when both spouses work as first responders and juggle a career, marriage, family, and a personal life.
For Anaheim Fire & Rescue Firefighter Paramedic Jason Helms and Anaheim Police Department Dispatcher Jillian Helms, working as first responders has an advantage.
“In this profession it helps having someone, especially your wife, understand exactly what these emergency calls mean and what the calls are,” Jason said.
Jason has worked for Anaheim Fire & Rescue since 2013 and Jillian has been with the Anaheim Police Department since 2014.
The couple has grown their careers in the City of Anaheim together.
It all started back in 2013 when Jason and Jillian met at a mutual friend’s Halloween party.
“He kind of scouted me out and I remember he was wearing a raccoon hat, shorts, boots, and a cut-off shirt,” Jillian said with a giggle.
Once the two talked, they realized they were both training to be first responders; Jason as a firefighter and Jillian as a dispatcher.
“I think we were able to connect so well because we were going through the same thing with all the training, probation, and the stressors of all that,” Jason said.
The day that Jason was hired at Anaheim Fire & Rescue, Jillian got hired at Los Angeles County.
“A few months after I started working, Jason texted me that the Anaheim Police Department had an open position for a dispatcher,” Jillian said. “He’s like, ‘You should totally come here,’ so I applied and got hired.”
Anaheim dispatchers have to complete training to learn all the city streets and blocks.
While Jason was going through the fire academy, he too had to know all the city streets and blocks. Jillian had helped him study.
“It actually really helped me helping him study because we made flashcards, so it wasn’t the first time I had seen the blocks,” Jillian said.
“It’s pretty tough because there’s a lot to know here,” Jason added. “So, when she came in, she already knew the city’s layout.”
Jillian passed training and began working in Anaheim.
“It’s fun working in the same city,” Jillian said. “Especially in Anaheim, it’s pretty incredible. This city is awesome.”
Working in different sectors of first responding has opened both their eyes and given them a mutual appreciation of what goes into helping people.
“It’s crazy to think that it’s (the caller’s) worst day but Jill and I are both there to help,” Jason said.
While the pair agree it’s nice to have a spouse who knows exactly what it’s like being a first responder, there are challenges.
“It’s not all sunshine and rainbows for us, you know. Our jobs are hard,” Jason said. “We have a ton of respect and love for each other, but it can get stressful with the things we see and hear. We know we just have to stick together.”
The key, they say, is to create a schedule that allows them to have days off together with their 3-year-old daughter, Peyton.
“Working our schedules is tough, but we understand that maybe he’ll get mandated one day or I’ll get mandated one day so the other just has to deal with it and we know we’ll just figure it out,” Jillian said.
“Our jobs are demanding, and we can’t just take the day off when we want to, so we rely a lot on our family and friends. Without them it definitely wouldn’t work out,” Jason added. “But, on the other hand, when we can make our schedules together, we try and get a lot of quality time together.”
When Jason and Jillian aren’t saving lives, they spend their free time with the family and go out camping or doing some other outdoor activity.
Jason and Jill said they want to continue to grow in their careers together and set a good example for their daughter.
“I’m very proud of him and I know he’s proud of me,” Jillian said. “So, it’s rewarding in that we can really make a difference and help people.”