On the Path to Firefighter/EMT

Recent EMT graduates include mom and daughter from Clayton

By Loren Grube, Publisher/Editor

Although becoming a Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) may not be for everyone, it is a great opportunity and rewarding career path for qualified individuals wanting to serve and protect their local communities. Firefighters and EMTs are your first responders to local residential, commercial and wildland fires and medical emergencies. They are responsible for rescuing people and animals in distress and saving lives.

Arneth Beck and her mom Elizabeth Beck proudly display their EMT Course Completion certificates

Mom and daughter complete EMT course

South Stevens County Times reporter Arneth Beck and her mother Elizabeth Beck started their path to becoming firefighters this past November by taking the EMT Course contracted through Deer Park Ambulance. There were 11 participants – four women and seven men – all of whom graduated in mid-February 2023. Classroom studies took place at Suncrest fire station two evenings per week, with hands-on skills training every other Saturday. “Everyone wanted to learn and help, but sometimes it was tense,” Arneth said. “It was high stress, but it was still fun and enjoyable.”

Arneth said they learned a lot during the course including how to take vitals, how to backboard a patient, placing airways, and splinting, as well as running through medical assessment scenarios. Her favorite parts were the hands-on training and graduation. “It was so rewarding to receive that certificate of completion … it was a great group that was fun to do class with, so I will miss it,” she said.

Arneth, age 19, was raised on a local farm in Clayton. Having enrolled in Running Start, she was able to complete two years of college during her junior and senior years of high school. Arneth enjoys helping people and has dreamed of becoming a doctor or veterinarian. She took a college first aid class and has experience medically caring for animals on the farm, which she now co-owns with her mother. Arneth is also a self-professed adrenaline junkie and will go on to complete the fire academy, while seeking additional knowledge in the medical field and continuing her work on the farm.

Elizabeth Beck has a military background and experience in search and rescue with the Coast Guard. When asked why she took the EMT course, she replied, “I wanted to follow my daughter. My best friend is also an EMT.”

Elizabeth was surprised at how much she enjoyed the course. She said the most challenging parts were studying the materials and learning how to take tests on the computer. The biggest thing she learned was not to panic. To stop, and breathe, and think. She said it was a lot of information to learn in a short period of time and suggested watching YouTube and paramedic videos to learn about heart blood flow, signs, and symptoms.
“Don’t quit. Stay the course,” Elizabeth said. “It will all make sense towards the end.”

Becoming a Volunteer Firefighter/EMT

Volunteer Firefighters are fully trained through Fire District 1, including an 11-week fire academy, and 120-hour EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) course, with both classroom and live fire groundwork. In the first 12-18 months, recruits also go through 40 hours of wildland fire training while meeting standards for shift assignment. After a probationary period, a Career Development program is offered to those who wish to pursue part and full-time employment in fire service.

Fire District 1 prides itself on its above par training programs, as they feel being prepared is critical to serving the public. Fire Chief Mike Bucy said the call volume and variety of call types let people gain valuable experience quickly.

About FireDistrict 1

Stevens County Fire Protection District 1 is a combination fire department with eight full-time and six part-time firefighters, full-time mechanic, fire chief, two administrative staff, and 55 active volunteer firefighters. The district operates eight fire stations in South Stevens County and provides 24/7 fire suppression, technical rescue, and emergency medical services, partnering with Deer Park Ambulance as their primary ground transport and paramedic agency. They serve the communities of Clayton, Deer Lake, Ford, Loon Lake, Suncrest, Tum Tum, Williams Valley, and the Town of Springdale across a 375-square-mile response area.

Job opportunities

SCFPD1 fire training and EMT training equip individuals to help serve their local community, bolster a resume, and provide a starting point for a long-term fire service career. In addition to the need for volunteer Firefighter/EMTs, Fire District 1 also needs Tender Operators, a great opportunity for those who can drive but who don’t want to do actual on-the-ground firefighting.

How to get started

Anyone even vaguely curious about becoming a Firefighter/EMT or tender operator with SCFPD1 can call their Retention and Recruitment Coordinator, Ashleigh Siegfried, at 509-233-8874 or visit https://scfpd1.com/volunteering/ for more information. After completing an application, there’s a background and driver’s license check, physical examination, agility test and interview.

Serving as a firefighter/EMT may not be for everyone, but for some, it may just be the opportunity of a lifetime.