Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicole Johnson.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Nicole. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
If you had told me 5 years ago I would own my own business, I would have laughed in your face.
Now as I sit here thinking about the past year, and how far we have come, I still can’t believe it’s real. Or that I am in charge haha. When I left the Army in 2012, as a burned out combat medic, I found myself suddenly completely lost, rudderless. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Ended up in Rhode Island, working odd jobs, and volunteering as a medic for a local disaster team. 3 years of that, and a lot of snow shoveling brought me back to Texas. While still not quite sure where I was supposed to be, I figured that this is home, and I figured that might be a good place to start. Plus, I missed my mom’s cooking something fierce! I decided to try my hand at civilian EMS.
Having spent the last few years focusing on battlefield medicine and trauma, and having picked up a love for the tactical side of medicine during my time in the Army, I knew this would be an adjustment for me. I had no idea what I was talking about. I never realized how much about basic medicine and patient care I had forgotten, and I learned a lot from the medics I worked with. That being said, I soon grew restless, missing excitement. The most excitement I had had so far in EMS was getting to drive lights and sirens through downtown Dallas during rush hour. But that is another story. So there I was again trying to figure out my next move. Then came a phone call one night that would change the course of my life. I had been talking to a good friend of mine about my struggles, and one night while he was listening to me lament, he said out of the blue: “You know, with your knowledge and experience, you should really be teaching this stuff to people that need it.” And when I tell you it was like suddenly everything made sense, I am not kidding. Immediately I had concerns. Having never run or wanted to run a business, I had no idea how to do it. (Still don’t!) I had taught Combat Lifesaver and things to my soldiers, but civilians? I wasn’t exactly confident going in, but he wouldn’t let me quit. I have to give him credit actually, as he was a huge piece in the naming of the company, among other things, and I owe him more than I can say. I hope someday I can repay his kindness and faith in me. So from that phone call, PRIEST took on a life of its own, me behind the scenes pounding away at it, trying to at least act like I know what I am doing! And I love it! I can’t see myself doing anything else. Now don’t get me wrong, I have struggled the entire time haha. I have had difficulty finding good instructors. And funding has been an issue basically from day one. This entire endeavor has been coming out of my own very sad and shallow pockets, but I do it because I believe in it, and I know that to succeed you must be willing to sacrifice. That being said, I have recently had the good fortune of finding and hiring on good people, and I hope someday I can pay them with something other than beer and accolades! I have also been fortunate enough to connect with a lot of very good people in the tactical industry who were happy to help guide me in the right direction. But my biggest thing has always been about fostering relationships. With the people I am teaching, members of my team, and with my peers and colleagues. They trust me, and many come to me for advice and feedback on things they are doing. And I got there by placing a strong emphasis on the values that PRIEST is built on.
Integrity, quality, and commitment. Our mission statement is who we are, and we stand by those things. And we hope that we will have the opportunity to share those things with the community for years to come. PRIEST is about not just saving lives, and teaching tactics, but it’s about the empowerment of the everyday citizen. The passing on of skills and confidence that people can use to make a difference. That is something special, and we here at PRIEST are honored and thankful for the opportunity to share our passion with those around us!
Has it been a smooth road?
It has been about as smooth as a country back road, and every single bump along the way has been a blessing, even if a painful one. I have faced financial obstacles trying to get the equipment I need, and advertising, and branding and oh my gosh what was I thinking?! Yet somehow, I have managed thus far to make it all work. It has been tight a few times, and more than a few nights in a row I have eaten ramen. And it has all been worth it, and I can smile and know that even though I still struggle, things are coming together that will soon change that, and then it will really start to get interesting! The struggle is the glory, after all. Or something like that haha.
They say good people are hard to find. Well that only compounds when you do something as specialized as what we do here. I have had some doozies come through, and learned some hard lessons. I don’t know how I managed it exactly, but I have somehow talked several really fantastic, highly qualified, just all around good people, to come on the team. Thinking maybe a part of my interview process should be a psych evaluation haha. But honestly, they are the backbone of PRIEST, and they have all shown a level of commitment and loyalty that I never expected, and I am grateful for all of them. I hope that in the very near future, when obstacle one is in the rear-view mirror, I can compensate these hard-working people the way they deserve. I am thankful for each one, every day.
Personal struggles have plagued me along the way as well. I battle my own demons, and more than a few times, I almost threw in the towel and walked away. I have sacrificed friendships, relationships, and any thoughts of having a real social life, so that I could focus my efforts on my company. Every single day will come with its own obstacles and challenges, that is just a fact. But I choose not to see them as negative things, but as opportunities to learn, and grow. Some days that is easier said than done though!
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the PRIEST Tactical Solutions story. Tell us more about the business.
We are PRIEST Tactical Solutions. PRIEST is kind of several things. First of all, me being prior military, I love acronyms. PRIEST stands for Precision Response for Immediate Emergency Stabilization and Treatment. Basically, fancy first aid! PRIEST is also a play on a darker subject.
When people are injured, they call out for their medic, and their priest. As medics though, it is our job to make sure they don’t need the priest!
What do we do? We do whatever it takes. Whatever it takes to make sure that those that come through our doors, leave with the confidence of a seasoned medic, ready to handle any situation at a moment’s notice. Whatever it takes to make sure that at the end of the day, everybody goes home alive. We do that by teaching basic, but critical lifesaving interventions that can be used by anybody, no matter what your background or skill level is. Though each scene is different, and require different considerations, basic principles of triage and patient care still apply in trauma management. Managing hemorrhage, chest and abdominal injuries, these things kill very quickly.
But by showing people different techniques and encouraging outside of the box thinking, they can be managed quite effectively, potentially saving someone’s life, and giving EMS time to get there.
We also integrate into some of our classes weapons handling and tactics, and teach people how to respond to particular threats. Home break-ins occur every 13 seconds, by statistics. Would you know what to do to keep you and your family safe in the event you became part of that statistic?
We are also in the process of expanding our course offerings to include courses geared towards women, and empowering them to be more than helpless victims. We also have in the works a plan to build a multi-faceted high-speed training facility right here in the Dallas area. One where people can come and train in realistic environments using high tech equipment and immersive training techniques to make it a very real and intense experience. Complete with a simulation house for room clearing and casualty care. A live shoot house for high adrenaline weapons training. And so much more… You will just have to wait and see!
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My team, first and foremost. They are some of the most passionate and dedicated people I have met. They always manage to exceed my expectations and I am honored that they trust me to lead them. I couldn’t do any of this without them. My parents, who have always supported my passion (obsession?) and been such a source of inspiration and strength. My peers, who have been so gracious with their time, showing me the ropes, providing feedback and encouragement, and even occasionally putting a boot in my rear end when I started slacking! Love and thank every single one of them. Distributors like some of the people from companies such as NAR, SWAT-T, Rescue Essentials, Moulage Concepts, just to name a few (sorry to anyone I left off, but you know I love ya!). I have had the privilege of meeting many of them personally at different conferences and such, and these guys and girls are tops. Helping me whenever possible, some even going so far as to send me boxes of free goodies and training supplies. It makes me feel really good to know that they believe in PRIEST, and are willing to support us whenever and however they can. Local ranges like Armadillo Gun Club, Proactive Defense, and The Rockwall Gun Club, that have been kind enough to take us in and let us use their toys and facilities while ours are being built. I tell ya, I wouldn’t be here at all without the good people I have that have shown kindness and patience and support as I learn and grow my company. Thank you to all of you, and you guys are the rockstar.
- Address: 7404 CR 964
Nevada, TX 75713
- Website: www.priesttactical.com
- Phone: 401-400-9650
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org