Pavel Zboril

Pavel Zboril, DCFD firefighter and paramedic in training, sits on the front of one of the department’s trucks on Tuesday in the bay of the East Daviess County Fire Station on Kentucky 54.

When Pavel Zboril moved to Owensboro from the Czech Republic, he thought he left his life as a firefighter behind.

Zboril, who comes from a community near the Czech city of Olomouc, was a volunteer firefighter, from a family of firefighters.

“We have a long family history of volunteer firefighters in my family,” he said. “I had been around firefighting since day one.”

By law, every community in the Czech Republic has to have a volunteer fire department, he said.

Zboril moved to Owensboro to marry his wife in 2016 who he’d met through the Sister Cities program. Zboril thought he wouldn’t work as a firefighter again.

“I told myself, ‘I’m starting a new life in a new country, probably firefighting is part of my old life in the Czech Republic,’ ” Zboril said. But, “when I would hear the sirens and see firetrucks, I missed the life.”

Zboril’s English improved and he applied to the Daviess County Fire Department. Today, Zboril is both a Daviess County firefighter and an emergency medical technician (EMT) for AMR, which provides the county’s ambulance service. Zboril is also studying to be a paramedic.

“I never thought I would move to a different country, learn a different language and make my dream career here,” Zboril said.

When Zboril began thinking about joining the fire service, a member of the Thruston-Philpot Volunteer Fire Department recommended he first become an EMT. He considered the idea but didn’t take any immediate action.

“One day, I came home from work and my wife told me I had an appointment at OCTC at 10 o’clock,’ ” he said. “I said, ‘what do you mean and (she said), ‘I signed you up for EMT classes.’”

Zboril became an EMT and was a volunteer with the Airport-Sorgho Fire Department when he was called by the county fire department for an interview.

The need for having medical training became evident. The city, county and volunteer fire departments all respond to medical emergencies, something departments in Czech Republic don’t do.

“When people have their worst day ever, people call the fire department — when they have medical (emergencies), a fire, or even when they close the car door and lock their keys inside.”

Becoming a paramedic is “more tools in my tool box that I can offer to Daviess county,” Zboril said. Although Zboril is early in his paramedic studies, he has handled some medical emergencies as an EMT. Last year, for example, Zboril delivered a baby in a hotel room, he said.

Zboril said firefighters don’t have time to get anxious when responding to medical calls.

“You’re here to help. You’re focused on your job, and you’re trained to make sure everything goes well” while responding to the unexpected, he said.

When not at the fire department or working for AMR, Zboril enjoys woodworking. “That’s my relaxation,” he said. The family also has a pony, although it’s not like the draft horses Zboril used to work with when he was a logger in the Czech Republic.

Zboril said the firefighters at the county fire department are “like a second family.”

“Every time I go on shift, it feels like the first day,” Zboril said. “I’m excited. I’m not mad or tired to go to work.”

James Mayse, 270-691-7303,, Twitter: @JamesMayse

James Mayse, 270-691-7303,, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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