Sunday, August 23, 2009
I often get asked the question 'why did you choose to become a firefighter?'. The glib answer would be 'why not?' but the truth is, it took a lot of forethought before I made the decision. I knew without a doubt that I wanted to work in emergency services. At the age of 30 when the thought first entered my brain about starting a new career, I was a bit long in the tooth to go to med school. So that left me to look into police, ambulance and fire. Policing is a great career for women with much room for advancement but I wasn't comfortable with carrying a gun and the shiftwork hours are quite horrendous and dealing with lawbreakers would put me in a horrible mood. The police rate very high in my books because they do a job that is incredibly difficult but I knew I didn't have the personality for it. So that left me with the choice of ambulance or fire. I wanted to become a paramedic because I have always been fascinated with the science of the human body and if I was too old to become a trauma doctor then perhaps being a paramedic would be the next best thing. My husband suggested trying out for the fire department but I scoffed saying I would never make it.... to which he said 'just try'. I was already confirmed with the dean at the paramedic college so with that in my back pocket I figured I could try out for fire since I had nothing to lose. I buried my nose in the books for months to write the entrance exam and trained as hard as I could. I got my DZ license, re certified in first aid, and got my resume in order. I wrote my exam in July of 2001, got accepted to the fire academy in October, and ran my first call Christmas Day. Looking back, it was a whirlwind and I think I did well because the only pressure I put on myself was to do my best. I do have to admit that when I walked in to write my initial entrance exam I was freaked.... there were close to a thousand applicants, and I nearly walked out. I am so glad I didn't.