After 38 years of full-time service, Assistant Chief Mikel Walker of the Madison Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Service has retired.

“It’s kind of sad to leave it because I loved my job,” Walker said. “But it’s time to get on with another chapter of my life.”

Walker said that his retirement has been bittersweet so far, but he will not miss the late night calls as much. He said it will be nice to get to spend more time with his family and be home every night.

“I’ve been married 39 years and waited 39 years to spend every daywith my wife,” Walker said.

Walker said he looks forward to spending time with his kids and 10 grandkids.

He said his service has blessed them and his whole family by giving them an opportunity to see the fruits of service.

Walker said he will miss his job and serving the people but that it was time to let someone else have that opportunity. He said the people he worked with and the relationships they had are what he will miss the most.

“I worked with some awesome people,” Walker said. “The department we have is awesome, and the individuals that work there are amazing.”

Other members of the department said they will miss Chief Walker as well.

“We’re going to miss him like crazy,” said Captain Joseph Haeberle. “He’s been not just a father-figure for us here, but like an icon for the ambulance and the Fire Department. He’s, in many ways, shaped what our Fire Department is today.”

Walker said he had been assistant chief over emergency medical services since 2000, when the fire department and ambulance services were consolidated. Before that, he said he had been the ambulance supervisor for the county since 1984.

He was born and raised in Rigby, just south of Rexburg. He moved to Rexburg when he was 12, and besides a short time working in Weiser, Idaho, he has been here ever since.

He said he was intrigued by this line of work at a young age. He remembers seeing emergency services at work and thinking about how great it would be to help people in that capacity.

Walker said that he got involved in the ambulance and emergency services towards the end of his senior year of high school. In June, he started working part-time and in September he started taking EMT courses. Walker worked part-time for two years and then went to work in Weiser for a year, before returning to a job in Madison.

“I was their ambulance supervisor at 20 years old,” Walker said.

Walker said that he has seen the area grow immensely in the years that he has been here.

“When I went to Ricks College they had 2,500 students,” Walker said.

He said that the department has grown quite a bit since he was in school as well.

“At that time, if we got 20 to 30 calls a month, we had a lot,” Walker said. “Now they get 200 or more.”

He said that when he started, they were a basic life support unit, and now are a critical care unit. He said that critical care requires a lot more training. The Madison Fire Department has one of the only critical care units in Southeast Idaho, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page.

Walker said that over the years he saw both ups and downs in his work.

It’s either the highest high or lowest low,” Walker said.

Walker said that some of those highs have involved people who have drowned and were revived. He said that he also remembers a car wreck involving a 7-year-old who they did not think was going to make. However, the child made a full recovery and Walker said he still sees that family on a regular basis.

“It’s just a great feeling to be able to help people in their time of need,” Walker said. “They trust us.”

Walker said that the people serving in his line of work have a huge responsibility. He said they have to maintain that trust so people will allow them to help in emergencies and let them into their homes.

“Once you’ve lost that trust or do something inappropriate, it affects the entire department and the entire system,” Walker said.

Walker said that the biggest reward of his job was to be able to be able to help people in their time of crisis and do something to help that moment be a little bit easier to bear.

“It’s been an honor and privilege to serve the people of Rexburg and Madison County,” Walker said. “I love Madison County.”