Putting others first

By Geoff Lee

July 5, 2017 3:27 PM

Delaney Bugiera is a health aid worker at Lloydminster Hospital, and a member of the volunteer Blackfoot Fire Department. Her medical training is being put to the test, as the department takes more first responses calls to accidents and motor vehicle incidents. Geoff Lee LSS Photo

Delaney Bugiera is dialed in to make 911 decisions.

The health care aid at the Lloydminster Hospital is currently a member of
the volunteer Blackfoot Fire Department, and is passionate about helping others and saving lives.

She’s been a firefighter for three years, but she could eventually become a licensed practical nurse, or continue to ride to the rescue on the back of a pumper, a role she has come to enjoy.

“It opens so many doors, and in the past three years, I have grown so much because of firefighting,” she said.

“It’s just taught me so many different things, and just how short life can be and just how easily it can be taken for granted.”

As a firefighter with medical training, she gets a double dose of adrenalin, which she craves.

She’s like a nurse in a firefighter’s uniform.

The need for firefighters with the medical know-how that Bugiera has is becoming more valued, as the 20-member fire department now takes on a larger first-response role when on call.

“Blackfoot’s taking on the medical side of stuff, which opens up another window for more calls and more help in the medical aspect from the Kitscoty side, right to Lloydminster, and the hamlet of Blackfoot,” said fire chief Brad Parkinson.

“We’re going to have about 10 first responders.”

Bugiera is one of four firefighters who just completed a first responders training course.

“It’s a step up from just being a basic first aider, so you help with a lot more things, and do a lot more things,” she said.

The Blackfoot Fire Department, based in the County of Vermilion River, covers accidents and motor vehicle collisions right from Range Road 24 to Lloydminster, and north and south of Highway 16.

“There’s lots of residential and acreages in our area, as well as a lot of industrial,” said Parkinson.

“In the County of Vermilion River, we have one of the largest industrial developments, being that we cover the industrial park just west of Lloydminster.”

Bugiera is the one woman on the crew who took the advice of former Lloydminster Fire Department chief, Todd Gustavson, to give firefighting a shot.

“I talked to him one day and he signed me up, and the love for fire has forever has been a part of me,” she said.

Bugiera recently took a basic firefighting course at Lakeland College’s Emergency Training Centre in Vermilion.

“Some of the things you have to do are climb up flights of stairs with full gear on, and a SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus),” she said.

“Then you have to crawl through a confined space in gear, trying to get out.”

Her message to other women who may want to train to be a firefighter is to just do it.

“It’s an amazing career; it’s fun; it’s exciting, and if you’re passionate about it, do it,” she said.

She admits that sometimes being the only woman firefighter is difficult, but says the Blackfoot department is a lot more close-knit, and they care about everyone within the department.

“I feel like that really comes from up top, and Brad makes sure everyone’s okay, and they’re not harassing or anything,” she said.

Parkinson said Bugiera fits in very well and is just like one of the crew.

“We’re all family,” he said.

“I encourage more women to try out for the fire department ; we don’t always have them; they don’t always stick around, but I do encourage female firefighters to join.”

He said training is equal across the board.

“It’s not the easiest of work sometimes, but there is a lot of women out there that can pull their weight just as a well as a man could,” said Parkinson.

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