No one keeps official statistics for this sort of thing. But if they did, it’s a pretty good bet that longtime Ocean Shores residents Matt and Cori Krick would be listed, right now, even as you read this, as two of the happiest people on the planet.
That’s because earlier this week, for the final time in more than 21 years, Matt achieved the primary objective of every public safety employee everywhere: to survive to arrive home alive.
Capt. Matthew Krick retired from the Ocean Shores Fire Department this week, finishing his last shift Monday. The last few weeks have been filled with fond farewells and remembrances as he wrapped up a career that brought him to Ocean Shores from Long Beach in 1998.
He will join his wife of 24 years at the home they purchased in 2015 near Helena, Montana. Cori, a longtime Aberdeen High School teacher, took a teaching job and moved there last summer when the couple sold their home on Olympic View Avenue. Matt has done a lot of “shift swapping” since then, living a few days at a time with friends and at the fire station, where the normal shift is two days on and four days off. He won’t miss the 13-hour drive from Ocean Shores to Montana’s capital city.
OSFD Chief Mike Thuirer recognized Krick at the July 8 City Council meeting. After recalling that the two worked side by side enough over the years to earn the nickname “Double Trouble,” he noted that “the roles that Captain Krick has played in the fire department have made a big difference.
“He has been responsible for starting the Fourth of July operation that we use today, and it was very successful again this year. This is the guy that started it all, over 12 years ago, and if it wasn’t for him, we’d probably have a lot more dune fires out there.”
Mayor Crystal Dingler said later, “Captain Krick served this city well for over 20 years, rising from a young firefighter to an experienced and dedicated leader. His ability to teach skills to others was unsurpassed in the Fire Department. He will certainly be missed.”
For the Kricks, the lure of the “Big Sky Country” is easily explained: “I’ve always been big into fishing. I grew up fly fishing” around Sandy, OR. He said his “most gratifying” fishing experience has been “introducing my wife to fly fishing. That was an investment and it took several years for her to get where she is today. She’s extremely proficient in fly fishing.”
While enjoying that together, they found in Montana, “the prime blue water trout fishing in the state,” near the headwaters of the Missouri River. They bought a home within walking distance.
“We plan to be fishing or floating absolutely as much as possible,” Matt said with a huge smile. “We love to do that together.”
Krick said a “wild guess” is that he averaged over 300 calls per year during his career here. “When I first started, it was pretty overwhelming” with shift staffing back then “just me and one other person. When you realize that you’re the only paramedic for the whole North Coast, that’s overwhelming. But you make one call at a time and slowly become confident that you can handle just about anything.”
Like most in his profession, Krick is pleased when he can use his training and experience “to help people in need and achieve a positive outcome,” as in his favorite call. In 2007, he was part of a crew that successfully resuscitated an infant born four months premature. The child now leads a normal, happy life and the parents occasionally bring the child to the fire station for visits.
Krick also has enjoyed the teaching and mentoring aspects of his job. “Just about all who come in get a little bit of Matt Krick training run time,” he said with a grin. “The thing I’m most proud of is having a small part in having assembled and trained a group of individuals with the honesty, integrity and character that these firefighters have. It’s been the highlight of my career.
“There’s nothing like seeing someone blossom as an EMT/paramedic and see them able to function in the field,” he observed, adding that “fire fighters enjoy a special relationship with the community that no other profession gets — instant trust.
“This experience — it never leaves your heart. Your co-workers are every bit as strong as family. The most difficult thing of all is to leave the guys and girls that I’ve worked with.”
As for doing a little volunteering near his new home, the 46-year-old said, “I may do a little volunteer EMS, but firefighting? It’s a young man’s game.”