Ryan Matthews was on his way to a criminal justice degree in Massachusetts when he decided to move south with his family.
He not only switched locations, he switched careers.
“Just like everybody else’s story, when you’re a little kid you want to be on the fire truck,” said Matthews, a firefighter I with Midway Fire Rescue. “But I kind of went the other route and wanted to be in a cop car.”
Matthews, 23, is a native of Orange, Mass., and graduated from Mahar Regional High School, where he played football and baseball, and attended Mount Wachusett Community College.
After moving to the Grand Strand in 2010, he went to the Myrtle Beach Fire Academy in 2011 and joined Midway.
Matthews is a member of the county’s Technical Rescue Team and the Wildland Fire Team, and has trained in high angle, low angle and ropes rescues, extrications and hazmat.
“High angle ropes was fun,” Matthews said. “That was a good class, getting to hang from high things.”
His best experiences are every day when he goes to work.
“Just being here is a blessing,” Matthews said. “We have a great time, we have fun. We get each other through things, (it’s) a good brotherhood.”
He doesn’t like to be specific about worst experiences.
“There’s been a couple bad, but … we come back here and you think about your family,” he said. “It’s always going to be burned into your head but there’s ways to get around it. So I just kind of come back and think about my family and think about how blessed I am.”
Midway’s more experienced firefighters told him after a bad experience, the best thing to do is talk about it.
“Tell people about it; talk about it,” Matthews said. “Get your feelings out. And that’s what we do.”
Matthews is single and lives in Pawleys Island with his dog, Alya. He loves hanging out with his family and girlfriend, Amber, and riding his bike.
Along with football and baseball, he also loves hokcey, and roots for the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots and Boston Bruins.
His goal is to get married and have a couple of kids, and “just keep on doing what I’m doing. Living every day.”
By Chris Sokoloski
South Strand News