Jeffery Edward Bayless
- Senior Captain
- Anchorage Fire Department
- Age: 51
- Year of Death: 2014
Jeff Bayless, a fourth generation Alaskan, grew up in Copper Center near the small regional hub, Glennallen. From childhood on, he had countless adventures in the wilderness.
As a teenager, Jeff decided that what mattered most to him was helping people. He trained as an EMT and earned a bachelor’s degree from Alaska Bible College in Glennallen. After graduation, he attended the Paramedic Training Program at Oregon Health Sciences University, where he met his wife, Gail. They were married for almost 26 years.
Jeff began his career practicing paramedicine in Tillamook, Oregon, with a hospital-based service. There he was honed into a skilled, intuitive, cutting-edge paramedic. He loved the work. While in Tillamook, he became an RN and then returned to Alaska, working in ICU and volunteering as a paramedic with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. His next step was EMS training coordinator, after which Jeff finally achieved his dream of being a paramedic with the Anchorage Fire Department.
Eventually, AFD’s EMS and fire services integrated, and he became a firefighter. Jeff found that he loved firefighting and turned his hunger for learning in that direction also. Over the years he certified in numerous specialties in EMS and fire and enjoyed teaching many of them. He progressed up the fire service ranks to senior captain. Jeff served a series of stations as senior captain, pouring his heart into each one.
Over his lifetime he saved countless lives. As an older teenager, Jeff and his buddy happened upon a flash flood in the Yukon that swept vehicles off the road. Using their wilderness savvy, they roped up and rescued every person. Decades ago, unbeknownst to him, his casual words of encouragement kept a young woman from fulfilling her secret intention of suicide, and she went on to live a satisfying life. Early one morning as an Anchorage paramedic, Jeff and his partner drove by an unreported apartment house arson fire that blocked all the exits. They called it in and, using a ladder and blanket, began rescuing the residents. He saved several people from rivers, once as part of AFD’s whitewater rescue team in a wild adventure that earned them an American Red Cross Wilderness Rescue Award.
Jeff collapsed and died suddenly toward the end of a strenuous training exercise, closing out a fruitful life that had been enriched by his faith in God. He was 51. He is survived by his wife, mother, fathers, sisters, brothers, and grandfather. He spent his life simply doing what he loved, completely engaged, lost in the moment. Without any consciousness of the impact his own life was having, he left behind a great legacy of life, encouragement, accomplishments, and friendship.