Arlington firefighter paramedic travels the world to help those in need

Arlington firefighter paramedic travels the world to help those in need (Nancy Chen/ABC7)

Despite the inherent dangers of being a firefighters, Arlington County Firefighter Paramedic Jerry Parr says nothing is more fulfilling and exciting than doing his missionary work.

Parr went on his first mission two years ago, and since then, has traveled the world to lend a helping hand -- while also making sure to do anything he can for his neighbors here at home.

Parr grew in DC -- and now saves lives in the neighborhoods he knows so well in Arlington County. But his compassion goes beyond borders.

"My first mission ever was to Kenya, Africa to a small village called Kitali," he said.

Since then, his volunteering has taken him to orphanages, homeless shelters and house remodels for the needy.

Parr's first mission was only two years ago, but he says something in him ignited as he checked a woman's blood pressure at a clinic in Kenya.

"It was ridiculously high, caught it," he said. "She got transported to the hospital, which I didn't know at that point. I just told her she needs to see a doctor immediately," he said.

It was a moment that changed not only her life -- but his. As he visited the hospital the next day, the woman's family thanked him profusely.

"Apparently, they were calling her the walking dead because at any given moment, she could have passed away, had I not caught her blood pressure," Parr said. "So I said, you know what? I'm going to do more."

Parr returned to Arlington County and enrolled in paramedic school, graduating in November. He also began signing up to help out wherever - and whenever - he could.

In Haiti, Parr replaced tin roofs that had blown off after a major hurricane. In Chicago, the task: packing food for the homeless. And in Houston, Parr worked on rebuilding houses after Hurricane Harvey. All on his own time -- and on his own dime.

"You go there, thinking that you're going to help," he said. "But believe it or not, you get aided in so many more ways that you couldn't even fathom."

Locally, Parr is working on a remodeling a motel in Newburgh, Maryland for who he calls the "working poor", people who have jobs but just need some help.

"The common thread is always love, I think," Parr said. "Throughout everything that we do, if you do it with love, and you do it wholeheartedly, you always reward in that."

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