More than 300 people attended the 40th graduation of the public fire paramedic program at Manitoba Emergency Services College on Friday.
The training hanger was lined with the equipment the class has trained on for the past 10 months: pumper trucks, ambulances, a rescue unit, a ladder truck and a hazardous material trailer.
The ceremony began with door at the back of the hanger opening, and then the 36 graduates formed up and paraded to the podium to the sound of bag pipes.
Dara Uzelman, 31, of Saskatoon is among the graduates. She already has a degrees in kinesiology and education and has worked as a teacher, but Dara likes an adrenaline rush and wanted a job with a more excitement.
“I wanted a job where I would enjoy going to work every day instead of dreading Monday morning. I like extreme things — it’s a job that I’ll never get board of because each day is exciting and new and different,” Dara said.
The ten-month-long program includes both paramedic and firefighting training, with three months of condensed school work and a five week practicum.
“The fire training is amazing, it’s very physical and tough. You’ve definitely earned your diploma at the end of this,” Dara said.
Jeremy Winter of Saskatoon has always wanted to be an emergency personnel.
I never wanted to do anything but this . . . my grandfather was a captain in Saskatoon. He retired in 99 and passed away in 08, so this is a good way to honorus him,” Winter said.
Winter is taking some time to relax and de-stress after the intense semester, but will be on the job hunt soon.
Paul Benson is heading up to Thompson for an interview next week. He is willing to work almost anywhere to get experience, but eventually would like to end up back in Winnipeg where his family lives.
“There were a few things I didn’t think I would care for, like water rescue but it turned out that it was one of my favourite parts of the program. I’m not much of a swimmer, but it’s actually really exciting when your doing it for a reason,” Benson said.
Sara Bigelow of Winnipeg has wanted to become an emergency responder since she was in high school. She said being one of the five ladies in the program had it’s perks because she never had to wait for the shower or a bathroom stall.
“The program is hard and stressful and you really have to be committed to it. But the teachers are really supportive and the students are also. It’s a good atmosphere,” Bigelow said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 30, 2012