Firefighters Without Borders: Community means everything
 
Local firefighters organized into groups that will be their teams for the week. (Photo: Amanda Smith/Quinte News)
 
Firefighters are a part of the community and if day one had a theme, community would be it.
 
We got down to work and we’d be liars if we said we weren’t a bit nervous. Here we are, strangers coming here to teach over 40 firefighters how to do their jobs, and we didn’t want them to be disappointed.
 
One of the biggest challenges facing us this week is the language barrier. We will be using the skills of locals who want to become more proficient with the English language to translate for us. It doubles the time it takes to teach the skill and sometimes things get lost in translation but we work through it. And when things do get lost in translation, gestures help.
 
We got to the recreation centre and all the firefighters were there and waiting for us.  We set up our gear and got our CPR dummies put together and began day one with CPR training before we got the stuff they were really excited for; bunker gear.
 
We came down with 25 sets of gear, plus our own, to try and outfit 43 firefighters. These men and women didn’t care they were sharing they were just excited to have the proper gear to do their jobs.
 
We practiced donning and doffing (getting the gear on and off) to give each person a chance to see what it was like to wear the gear.
Most of them were surprised at how warm they got in the gear, and they’re acclimated to the heat!
 
After lunch, we were told to expect some visitors from a local school; what we got was 100 children ready to see what we were doing.
 
The instructors took this opportunity to show the local firefighters they could step up and take on a leadership role with the kids, not only because they speak the language, but they are the ones they are seeing every day at the fire station, driving the trucks and answering the calls.
 
We got the teachers involved and put them in bunker gear, which the kids loved! The kids then got to check out the trucks outside, try on bunker gear and learn CPR.
The Chief then brought a little afternoon snack before we all called it quits for the day.
 
We went back to the hotel for an hour before meeting back up with Rebecca and Victor, our hosts and guides for the week, before heading out to a baseball game with some locals. Yes, we played baseball and we even managed to squeak out a win.
 
We all felt really good about our first day and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings.