It has all the makings of a great movie.
The story is about a brilliant, beautiful young girl from Texas who takes off to California to study and become a marine biologist. Our protagonist goes to work off the islands of Palau and American Samoa in the Pacific Ocean and then travels the world for a year before finding herself 8,000 miles away fighting fires and saving lives in a small town in Mississippi.
This story is a biopic, a true story of brilliance, adventure and courage. And to cast our leading lady, we have to look no further than Vicksburg Fire Department’s very own Michele Felberg.
To hear Felberg tell it, the jump from studying marine life in the Pacific to saving lives and fighting fires isn’t that much of a stretch. They both require intelligence and physical stamina.
She said, “Doing this job requires a lot of physical fitness, but it also is a job that requires you to think. You have to spend time working to get yourself physically fit, but it also takes time to learn the principles/science behind firefighting and emergency medicine.”
Of course, our adventurous heroine loves the thrill of the unknown. “A typical work day never looks the same. Each day is a surprise, as we never know what 911 calls may come or what duties the department may have for us. The 24 hours we are on shift are always a surprise,” Felberg said.
Most great leading ladies end up being surprisingly strong and capable of overcoming obstacles, and Felberg is no exception.
She said, “The biggest obstacle I’ve overcome at this job is having to prove to the community and my coworkers that I am just as physically capable of doing the strenuous work as any of my male coworkers. A lot of people assume I’m not very strong, but I’ve had to prove that I can handle myself as well as anyone else at this job.”
Our heroine is tough but caring.
“As a paramedic specifically, it concerns me to see how many people in the community do not take control over their health, leading to multiple health issues that can have catastrophic effects. I wish people took more responsibility to live a healthier lifestyle, even through the smallest choices,” Felberg explained.
She is humble.
“I have had the fortune of working with multiple people in this department who have given me countless pieces of advice and so much help, it would be impossible to name them all,” she said.
True to the style of great female leads, Felberg proves to be quite relatable and likable as well.
“My coworkers have given me a lot of different nicknames. I know dispatch calls me “Chipper” because I have a reputation for sounding very upbeat on the radio, even on calls in the middle of the night,” she said.
Felberg’s journey so far really is the stuff of which movies are made. She has been all around the world, experienced things some of us only imagine and she is far from done.
Spoiler alert: This movie does not have the happiest of endings, at least not for those of us Felberg will be leaving behind next May when she takes off again in search of even more adventures.
Michele Felberg will be missed, and I can’t wait for the sequel.