STOTTVILLE — Ethan Garbarini hadn’t been born when the tragic events of 9/11 occurred. But at age 17, he’s been a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician for three years.
That’s a lot of living for a teenager.
His passion for firefighting and what he’s learned in his experience thus far inspired him to complete the 110 Story Challenge on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, in which he climbed 110 flights of stairs at the Planet Fitness in Hudson in full firefighter turnout gear to honor first responders that died that day.
Garbarini, 17, of Stottville is a senior at Tech Valley High School through Hudson High School and began his emergency services career at 14 in Hudson with the J.W. Hoysradt Hose & Chemical Company No. 8 as an “explorer,” a program that teenagers can join to learn about a career in fire service. This was his third year completing the stair challenge, but his first alone and in full gear, he said.
“It’s all a brotherhood and sisterhood for us, so I do it to pay respect and it means a lot to me because having family in the fire department, in service, everything — just to think that could have been my brother or father responding and sacrificing their lives to save others really means a lot to me,” he said. “It’s what kind of keeps me pushing to further my education in this field.”
His brother, who Garbarini shared a room with when he was young, was a volunteer firefighter, peaked his own interest in the field.
Now, all three Garbarini siblings are volunteer firefighters, he said.
Garbarini’s climb earned a commendation from Hudson City Schools.
“Shout out to HHS senior Ethan Garbarini for his participation in the 110-Story Challenge this past Saturday, September 11th,” the district wrote on social media. “Garbarini, who is a member of the Stottville Fire Department, joined many firefighters around the country to honor and remember FDNY firefighters who selflessly gave their lives on September 11, 2001 so that others might live.”
Hudson Common Council 5th Ward Alderman Dominic Merante praised Garbarini online.
“Well done young man! Great job demonstrating the blue and gold spirit,” he posted.
Hudson City Schools Superintendent Maria Lagana Suttmeier joined in.
“So proud of this young man,” she wrote.
His brother, who Garbarini shared a room with when he was young, was a volunteer firefighter, peaked his own interest in the field. His brother took him to his first call — a pediatric cardiac arrest — and even though the 12-year-old Garbarini stayed in the truck, it sparked something in him.
Now, all three Garbarini children are volunteer firefighters, EMTs or paramedics, he said.
After starting in Hudson, Garbarini transferred to the Stottville Fire Company to be able to respond to more calls, he said.
Two calls stand out to Garbarini so far in his junior firefighting career: A structure fire in Philmont, in which the person inside was killed, and a call for an EMT for which he was the only one on the scene, he said. He just became an EMT at the end of July.
“So I was really nervous because I’m so new and I’m the only EMT on the scene, but they ended up living, so it all went well,” he said.
Balancing being a first responder and high school student can be challenging, Garbarini said. He said his friends sometimes get annoyed when his pager goes off repeatedly.
“It gets a little hard sometimes, especially when I have school work on a drill night. Sometimes I have to skip drill nights to do schoolwork,” Garbarini said.
He said his parents have been supportive and even helped drive him to drills and calls before he got his license. And as a junior firefighter, his curfew in Stottville might be 11 p.m. on school nights, but weekends the curfew is still up to his parents, he said.
As far as his plans after high school, Garbarini is currently in the process of enlisting in the U.S. military with the hopes of being a combat medic, not only to help people, but to travel, he said.
Garbarini said not many people close to his age are joining the ranks these days as a matter of commitment.
“It’s slowly becoming a dying business,” Garbarini said. “Not really many young people out there that want to join anymore.”