When the U.S. Army brought Sergeant Chris Archer to Dawson County, he knew he found a place – and a community – he could call home. He is now the Community Risk Reduction Officer with Dawson County Emergency Services and helps people in the community every day.
“I like helping people. [Being a firefighter] made me realize, you know, people are good,” said Archer.
In 2005, Archer was a sergeant in the army living in Dawson County when he saw something that would change his life forever.
While hanging out with one of his friends, they witnessed a child get hit by a car. Archer and his friend looked at each other and in that moment they decided they wanted to do something to help.
“We both went and became volunteer firefighters the next week,” said Archer.
Being a firefighter has molded Archer and made him the man he is today. In his time with the fire department, he’s seen both the good and the bad and saved lives in the process.
“I saw the side of it where we fought fires and everything else and then the side, you know, I want to be able to help and prevent those fires from every happening,” Archer said.
In April 2017, Archer was awarded the “Outstanding Service” Award by the Dawsonville Civitan Club for his work with the Community Based Instruction students at the middle and high school and was also named Career Firefighter of the Year by the Dawson County Emergency Services in December.
For the past two years, Archer and the Dawson County Emergency Services have worked with the Exceptional Children program in Dawson County and is entering the third year.
“Myself and another firefighter who was here noticed there was a need for fire education in the special needs community. You know we’d come to school every year in October and we never saw the special needs kids,” said Archer. “Luckily [the CBI program] reached out to us…it was something we were looking at for a long time.”
According to Archer, special needs individuals are more likely to have interaction with 911 and he wants to make it a positive experience for the Community Based Instruction students.
The special needs community has always held a place in Archer’s heart as his wife is a special education teacher and the couple also has a special needs son.
Once a month, the CBI students meet at the fire station to hang out with the firefighters and learn important fire safety lessons. They most recently learned about resisting peer pressure and making exit plans when a building is on fire.
“We’ve got a pretty strong bond built with them,” said Archer. “It doesn’t even feel like we’re teaching. We’re almost hanging out with them.”
Archer loves working with the Exceptional students and says he learns something new every time they visit the station. In fact, one student is currently teaching Archer sign language every time they meet. He’s been learning signs for “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” “hurt,” ambulance” and others that he hopes will help the firefighters in case they are in a situation where they are assisting a deaf person in the community.
When Archer isn’t fighting fires or working to prevent them, he can be found teaching Sunday School at his church, Christ the Redeemer in Dawsonville. He said he teaches every Sunday unless he's sick. He is also in his third year as a member of the Knights of Columbus at the church.
Before living in Dawsonville, Archer served in Korea as a long range surveillance detachment.
In 2009, he took a short break and deployed to Afghanistan with the National Guard. While in Afghanistan, Archer and his unit worked with a police mentor team to help train the police force and fire service as part of his mission.
He is on the Honor Guard Team and participates in programs in the community for Veterans Day, Memorial Day and other important services held in the county.
Archer is married to Shannon and has three kids: Kristen, Patrick and Payton.