Certain people in the world are meant to help people. It’s a desire to be of service. For those that have that passion, there’s no denying it.

Martha Pearson has lived in Idyllwild her entire life — 47 years to be exact — and been driven to help people from a young age. 

“I just like helping people,” Pearson said. “When I was right out of high school, I was an EMT.” 

In the mid-90s, Pearson worked for the Idyllwild Fire Protection District (IFPD) for a short time after getting her EMT certification from Mt. San Jacinto College. 

Martha Pearson during the Ferguson Fire in the summer of 2018.
Photo courtesy of Martha Pearson

As Pearson pursued her dream of helping people, she ran into the challenges of being a female in a prominently male-driven field. Needing more experience, Pearson found work off the mountain but always wanted to help her community.

“I worked for an EMT company called Rescue One in the Los Angeles area in my early twenties. It was all EMTs,” Pearson stated. “I was able to gain experience and on-the-job training doing basic life support (BLS).”

As Pearson navigated Los Angeles, she applied for and was accepted to Crafton City College’s paramedic program located in San Bernardino. 

With the hope of having experience and acceptance to school under her belt, Pearson approached IFPD to help with the financial costs of paramedic school, wanting to come back to Idyllwild and help her hometown.

Unfortunately, at the time, IFPD didn’t help her pursue her paramedic training and Pearson lost hope and motivation to continue forward.

Now at the age of 47, Pearson said she wanted to get back to what she wanted to do: save lives. 

Pearson said, “There’s nothing more rewarding than saving somebody’s life. It’s truly rewarding, and you’re appreciated.”

In October 2019, Pearson applied to an accelerated EMT class at College of the Desert in Palm Desert. She graduated on Dec. 16, 2019. 

“I studied at the cafe [Mountain Center Cafe] every day and I passed the National Registry the first time I took it,” Pearson shared. 

Currently, Pearson is a reserve intern at IFPD, helping when she can and driving the ambulance regularly. 

“I’m working with all guys at Idyllwild Fire,” Pearson said. “Mark LaMont is an amazing person and mentor. When we do our physical agility, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life, but I do it and the guys are there to push me to do my best. It’s a really good station and I’m thankful to be there.”

“It was scary going back to school and I’ve had to get over a lot of fears,” Pearson stated. “A lot of these guys are in their twenties and I’m 47, but they’ve encouraged and supported me.”

Pearson has also worked as a firefighter in recent years and was on a team at the Ferguson Fire in Northern California when the Cranston Fire broke out in the summer of 2018. 

“They offered to let me come home, but I didn’t want to let down my team,” Pearson said. “There wouldn’t have been anything I could’ve done being here anyway.”

On top of all that emergency work, Pearson also owns the Mountain Center Cafe with her mother Emily Pearson. The duo has owned the restaurant for seven years. They opened just a month before the 2013 Mountain Fire broke out, which resulted in evacuations. 

While they’ve seen their share of setbacks between fires, road closures, floods and now a pandemic, they continue to be open seven days a week. Take-out, gift cards and daily specials are available. 

Pearson has proven one point: No matter how long you wait, it’s never too late to continue chasing your dreams. Facing your fears and working hard will get you to your goal.