by Martin McConnell
The Bath Fire Department recently added a new full-time firefighter to its roster: Rachel Rexroad. Rexroad marks the department’s first hire of a full-time female firefighter in its 77-year history.
Rexroad came to Bath from the Cleveland Heights Fire Department, and got her start as an EMT first responder in southern Ohio in 2007. She found herself in EMT classes after a failed college chemistry class derailed plans to attend medical school.
“It all started from failing chemistry,” Rexroad said. “[That] wasn’t completely my fault, I got really sick and I ended up in the hospital. … I needed to find a high-credit class to make up for the fact that I failed a class. I found this class called ‘EMT Basic’ and I was like ‘Great!’”
Rexroad eventually moved back home to work in an emergency room. While there, she was invited by a friend to attend a firefighting agility test, the first step to joining a fire department’s academy.
“I failed miserably,” Rexroad said. “But I came back, learned how to use the equipment, and smoked it. I did awesome. [The commander] obviously saw something there, and then a year later, I was hired as the first female firefighter at Brook Park.”
As a Copley resident, Rexroad found herself longing to go back home so that she could see family more often. When the Bath Fire Department posted an opening for a new full-time hire, she jumped at the chance to apply.
“Being a firefighter or paramedic, it definitely is a sacrifice,” Rexroad said. “We spend one third of our time away from our house, away from our family. … That’s a lot. I wanted to be closer to my family so that they could come and see me.”
Bath Fire Chief Robert Campbell cited Rexroad’s proximity to the community as a big plus, and noted that having a firefighter who lives so close is a massive win for the department.
“[Rexroad] has lived in this area for a long time, and that helps me with two things,” Campbell said. “One, she lives close to the community, so she understands what the community is like. Two, she’s here close by, and she’s readily available.”
Campbell noted that Rexroad’s application to the Bath Fire Department made for a relatively easy choice when picking the new hire. In addition to being an experienced public service worker, Rexroad owns and operates LEARN CPR in Wadsworth, where she teaches both hands-on CPR and how to use external defibrillators.
Founded in 2019, LEARN CPR teaches people how to handle a cardiac arrest emergency, according to the company’s website. The staff is made up of nurses, doctors and paramedics. Rexroad started the company after witnessing calls on the job where bystanders didn’t know how to perform CPR or AED.
“Of the applicants we got for the position, [Rexroad] stood out,” Campbell said. “She had a lot of experience, she had a pretty wide array of experience. … She also runs her own business, teaching CPR. … That’s a valuable community outreach.”
Both Campbell and Rexroad commended the citizens of Bath for being so appreciative of those who serve their community, and helping give back to first responders in any way that they can.
“Coming to Bath and having everyone be so thankful, and bring food, and be so welcoming, I’m not used to that,” Rexroad said. “I have to say my self-confidence is a lot higher, because it’s just so nice to be complimented.” ∞