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Jay Nichols: Navigating Multiple Roles

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  • Written By: Dwain Hebda
Jay Nichols: Navigating Multiple Roles

The Multifaceted Responsibilities of Baxter Health Security

Officer Jay Nichols came to his role with the Baxter Health Security Department by a circuitous route. Originally from the area, he started as a volunteer firefighter and EMT in Missouri before making a career change to law enforcement.

“At that time, there were situations where first responders were getting ambushed, basically,” he said. “I decided I wanted to be the one to keep our local first responders, firefighters and EMS safe and be that buffer for them when the call goes out.”

Nichols served in law enforcement for eight years in Missouri and Arkansas before joining Baxter Health as a retail supervisor in the cafeteria. A few years after that, he got the urge to change roles.

“I’ve always enjoyed figuring out the best way to handle situations and make sure people get to go home at night to their families,” he said. “I got to know the director, Mike (Armstrong) and we hit it off. I just wanted to get back into security where I could help people.”

Nichols said the role of the security officer covers more than just dangerous situations. Not unlike the cop on the beat, officers are available to lend a hand in a variety of situations.

“It’s not just security issues. It can be, ’Hey, I lost my vehicle. Can you help me find it?’ ’How do I get to the fourth floor?’” he said. “We help people in from their cars if somebody’s injured. We’ll grab a wheelchair, help them into the ER and guide them where they need to go. We answer questions for patients and visitors if they get lost.

“It’s about helping the public and helping patients and visitors feel safe and giving them the information they need. We wear multiple hats.”

When he’s not on duty, Officer Nichols likes to indulge a relatively new hobby — blacksmithing — which he’s taken up with his brother. 

“We watched the reality show Forged in Fire, and I was like, ’Hey I can do that,’” he said. “Me and my brother make knives. We’ve progressed from a coal forge to a homemade gas forge, and then we bought an actual gas forge.

“It’s a good stress reliever. You can pound on some metal and mold it into an object that’s useful.” 

This feature appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of Pulse Magazine. To view the entire issue, visit