OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha native Sheena Glover is a firefighter and paramedic and she’s fighting for more diversity and inclusion among the department’s ranks.
She's been with the department since 2008 — a career she stumbled upon.
“I come to work and I originally got this job to be able to take care of my child,” she said. “I was recently divorced, just got out of an abusive marriage. It was one of those things where, ‘I just got to feed my baby.’ Here I am, this single black female, with a baby to raise on her own...just coming out of something terrible and it's like, ‘Well, how do you do it?’"
Glover found a way.
She's currently a community safety specialist. She focuses on educating youth and the public on fire safety and is an advocate for her community. Much of her time is spent with kids — showing them fire trucks. She also helps celebrate the occasional birthday.
Glover has been the lead on community outreach projects to better target underserved populations, specifically the Black community. She created the Mask Project, which generated over 148,000 masks to the public, and is a driving force in the department's diversity and inclusion program.
More than the program and fighting fires, Glover has made it her mission to fight the system and tear down barriers — even publicly addressing racial injustices at city council.
"I was told by a fire captain once, early in my career, that because I was Black, I would have to work 10 times harder than everybody else and I still wouldn't be on the same playing field," said Glover.
Out of nearly 660 firefighters with the Omaha Fire Department, 46 are Black. Only two of them are female.
"I came into this department knowing that I was going to be the fourth in the history and I will be an anomaly within the system. I was okay with that because I saw that it was a bigger picture for the whole process,” she said.
She'd like to see more women in the field, especially Black women.
"Just understanding that you can still be beautiful and be a firefighter in this job, you can still...own your hairstyle and be your unique self and still get the work done. Also, to speak to single moms, I've been a single mom since I started this career and just understanding that it's possible, even with the 24 hour shifts," she said.
Possible for a Black woman to move forward in a male-dominated field.
"It's a man's profession but it doesn't mean it's man-only...because women can do the same job and we've proven it sometimes even better because our perspective is different. Our compassion is different...how we see the world is different," she said.
Glover said representation matters and because of her gender and background she's been able to play a role in helping certain groups during their time of need.
"I grew up poor...so I understand what it's like to be a North Omaha resident and I've been on medic units and I wanted people to be treated well. We are in the human service business,” she said.
Glover is also working with Douglas County to bring vaccination clinics to North Omaha. Her plan is to educate people on the importance of vaccinations while giving real-life testimony from first responders who have already received the shot, herself included.