Army PFC Nolan McGril focused on making a change in his life after he graduated from Eagleville High School in 2019.
Two years later at the age of 21 – and after completing basic training and advanced training as a combat medic — he not only uses his skills one weekend a month with the Tennessee Army National Guard but also serves Murfreesboro as a member of the Fire and Rescue Department.
McGril, an athlete at Eagleville High, attended Middle Tennessee State University for one semester but was unsure of his future.
“I just went to college because I didn’t know what else to do,” McGril said. “I didn’t have a major and just going with the flow. I was being lazy, and I stopped going to college and it came to a point where I asked myself what I was doing?”
At that point McGril left his job at an ice cream shop and joined the Army.
“I wanted to make a change in life and what better way to change than to join the military?” McGril asked.
Instead of going on full active duty, Nolan decided to test the waters and enlist in the National Guard as a medic. He couldn’t have made a more meaningful decision for his future.
He was able to go to basic training in Fort Jackson, S.C., and learn how to be a combat medic. He also wanted to be a firefighter who his training as a medic would impact greatly.
After basic training, he went to San Antonio to receive advanced individual training in the medical field. He completed all of his medic training in two years.
McGril became a certified Emergency Medical Technician which led him to start working on the second part of his career, becoming a firefighter.
“After I got home, I got in contact with Murfreesboro Assistant Fire Chief Brian Lowe and asked him what the best way was to become a firefighter?” McGril said.
Lowe took him through the steps of going through school at the Tennessee Fire Services & Codes Enforcement Academy and in Bell Buckle. It didn’t take long for McGril to be accepted into the academy.
“Luckily I passed, and I thought, man this stuff is fun, I’m glad I did this.’ ” he said.
After graduation last June, McGril didn’t have to look too far to become a firefighter. He was hired by the Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department on Sept. 10 and was assigned to Station 10 on Veterans Parkway near his current residence.
For his National Guard role, he usually serves the first weekend of the month. Often, he is at the Tennessee Army National Guard’s Medical Command in Smyrna helping active duty members who are about to deploy or helping those who need yearly medical exams. He takes vital signs, draws blood and fills out paperwork.
All of the members of his fire department team have some form of medical experience and training.
“The majority of the calls are medical calls as public education about fires is so much better than it used to be,” McGril said. “Our captain is a paramedic; we have three advanced EMTs and I’m a basic EMT myself. We do a lot of EMT work and help the ambulance service out a lot.”
McGril will be working his way toward becoming an advanced EMT soon and he might pursue becoming a paramedic.
McGril works a 24-hour shift, then has 48 hours off, but his attitude about both jobs never disappears.
“I’m helping people. I feel like I’m doing something good. I only looked out for myself and coasted before. I’ve got a purpose now and I’m giving back to the place I grew up in. I’m grateful to be able to do this as a career,” he said.