June 17th, 2024

New fire/EMS recruits take centre stage for graduation


By Herald on December 3, 2022.

A class of recruits for the Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services stands at the front of the theatre during a graduation ceremony Friday at the Lethbridge Public Library. Herald photo by Cal Braid
Cal Braid – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services held a graduation ceremony for their 2022 recruits in the Lethbridge Public Library theatre on Friday.
The recruits entered the room in a bagpipe procession before accepting congratulations and then receiving their badges and hats. Higher ranking department leaders and local officials led the ceremony, offering words of motivation and encouragement. In the closing remarks, fire training officer Mark Matheson differentiated between treating one’s career as a job versus a profession.
“Simply putting on the uniform does not make us professional. It is our actions and attitude that makes us professional; our conduct. Without professional conduct a uniform is just a costume.” 
Afterwards, graduate Joshua Mabbott, who started as a volunteer fireman in his hometown of Milk River, described the process of achieving his goal. He needed to obtain his paramedic training to meet the City of Lethbridge standards, and then, “The first step is the extensive physical in Edmonton, and then you go through some written medical and fire testing,” he said. “Then an interview with a full panel, and there’s also medical scenario testing. (Finally), you do a psychological evaluation and then you hear whether you got in.”
Another graduate, Dallas Walker-Milan, spent six years volunteering, and for the past year has been a career firefighter in Spruce Grove. Milan said that in applying to the Lethbridge department, she still had to follow the same process as Mabbott. 
“At minimum, you must be a primary care paramedic and some of us are advanced care paramedics.” 
Asked about the degree of difficulty in the training, she replied, “Nothing was overly difficult but it was very demanding. We did a couple weeks where we were doing live fire in our burn tower. We had to do scenario after scenario so that got pretty taxing. We were dragging the hose through, and re-packing the hose, fighting live fires, spraying water, and pulling victims out. Those couple of weeks got intense. We started to feel a little bit sore and bruised and some of us were a little bit mentally tired, too. It took a lot of stamina on all our parts to keep going every day and keep that positive attitude.”
“Worn down for sure,” Mabbott said. “A couple of us got sick. We had the flu come through and knock out a bunch of us right towards the end.”
“All of us had to climb out of a fourth storey window as a life-saving device. We have a hook on a rope and we hook it on a windowsill and climb out the window and (let) ourselves down. That got us a little bit.” 
“Heights nerves,” said Abbott. “They build you up to it though.”
“Overall it was a lot of fun. We learned a lot and became one very cohesive unit. I think that all 10 of us have become really good friends,” Walker-Milan said. “I’m excited to see in another 10 years how much we still interact.”
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