Auden E. is a few years out of high school, pursuing a college degree and working full-time as a broadband technician II. But on his nights and weekends, he’s also fighting fires and saving lives—a passion of Auden’s since he was a young boy. His desire to help people earned Auden the distinction of being named TDS’ Volunteer of the Quarter.
Starting at TDS
Straight out of high school Auden worked in the oil fields for about a year before giving telecom a shot. His dad worked in broadband for 20+ years in Amarillo, Texas, where Auden grew up. “I knew the oil field work wasn’t for me, so I thought I’d try what my dad did and applied to TDS after moving to Carlsbad, New Mexico, in November 2018,” he said. “I didn’t have cable experience, but the company gave me a shot, twice, and here I am today.”
Yes, twice—you’ll hear more about that as you keep reading.
Now, as a broadband technician II, Auden spends his days installing internet and TV, troubleshooting service issues, and maintaining outside main lines for TDS customers in Carlsbad. “I’m currently training for preventative maintenance and recently moved from ladder to bucket truck,” said Auden.
A passion for helping others
As a young boy, Auden wanted to either join the military or become a police officer. Many family members followed this path and it just seemed like a natural fit for him, too. But once he was nearing the end of high school, Auden knew he wanted to do something different—yet still felt called to help others. That’s when he decided to become an EMT with a long-term goal of becoming a paramedic.
There are two ways to get an EMT license: virtually, or in person at a local college. The nearest school was an hour away and only had classes during the day which interfered with Auden’s TDS work, so he put the EMT license on hold. He had also shelved the idea because of Carlsbad’s local requirements.
In some places you can be an EMT without working for a fire department. But, “In Carlsbad, you have to be a firefighter before becoming an EMT. I never thought I’d fight fires,” he said.
But then, one day, he happened to start chatting with a customer and his future suddenly changed. While doing an internet install and waiting for the job to complete, the customer asked Auden what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He shared his EMT goal. The customer left the room and returned with the retired fire lieutenant with Carlsbad Fire Department on the phone. The fire lieutenant told Auden he had an in with the chief and to come try out for firefighting.
He took a risk and decided to apply.
“A week after putting in my application I had to do a combat, physical challenge to even be considered for a job,” Auden said. “If I passed, I’d move on to the next phase. I was not physically active at the time and was up against 14 guys in their 30s and 40s with over 10 years’ experience. Three people were going to be chosen. I said if I make it, this is my calling.”
Auden was one of the three chosen and was on his way to the fire academy. He quit his job at TDS but was so grateful for that customer. “I just happened to be talking with him about my future and the rest is history.”
Auden became a certified firefighter and was working on his EMT license when things took a turn.
During a training exercise, Auden hurt his back and both his physical trainer and chief told him he needed to quit the academy because he no longer met the eligibility requirements to be a firefighter. However, they said if Auden quit and got better, he could try again. Luckily for Auden, he was welcomed back to his TDS job in December 2019. “I was fortunate,” said Auden. “I’m working for TDS, my back is healed, I’m now a volunteer firefighter with the Otis Volunteer Fire Department and am getting my EMT license renewed.”
Not taking life for granted
Every fire call leaves an impression on a firefighter no matter the size of the flame. But one incident has really stayed with Auden. “We got called out to a highway collision between a semi-truck and a welder truck with a four-man crew. Both vehicles were going about 65 – 70 miles per hour and ended up flipped over on the side of the road. The semi driver escaped with minor injuries. Two of the four-man crew went home with major injuries and the driver and another passenger were in dire condition,” explained Auden. “While we waited for the air crew to come assist, we were able to call and connect the two gentlemen to their families before they died. That got me thinking deeply about life, relationships, staying connected to people you care about, and not taking things for granted.”
Megan, warehouse technician, nominated Auden for the Volunteer of the Quarter because of his work ethic both with TDS and as a firefighter. “He works so hard during the day, even goes above and beyond for his customers, but also after hours as a volunteer firefighter. He gets all his calls in the evenings and no matter how late he’s out Auden still makes it on time to work his actual job. That’s dedication.”
Assistant of Field Services Tammy agrees. “Auden gives an honest day’s work from eight to five. When he gets a call to respond to his volunteer work, it may have him up until the wee hours of the morning. Yet, he’ll still show up for work the next day. He may be a young guy, but he’s definitely got his head on straight as to his work ethics. I’m proud to say I know him.”
Auden would like to keep progressing at TDS and hopes to gain an associate degree in software engineering, get his paramedics license, and become a full-fledge firefighter. Looks like Auden’s passion for helping others is here to stay.
Congratulations to Auden on his Volunteer of the Quarter distinction and a big thank you for his courage and commitment to the Carlsbad community.
By Rhonda Hilmershausen, TDS Brand Journalist