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Five female JCESA employees complete training

By Toni Milbourne - For the Chronicle | Jan 1, 2021

Five female employees of the Jefferson County Emergency Services Agency were recognized by their superiors for completion of Firefighter 1, Firefighter 2 and HazMat certification. Shown, back row, from left: Joshua Smith, technician; Captain Craig Horn; Lt. Ryan Napier; Pastor John Bethard; and JCESA Director Allen Keyser. Front row, from left: Kaila Napier, paramedic/firefighter; Brittany McLaughlin, paramedic/firefighter; Ciara Schult, EMT/firefighter; Makenzie Woodward, EMT/firefighter and Amanda Waugh, EMT/firefighter. Toni Milbourne

RANSON — Five women who have completed the requirements for certification in Firefighter 1, Firefighter 2 and Hazardous Materials training gathered Tuesday at the Jefferson County Emergency Services Agency for a brief recognition ceremony — Kaila Napier, Brittany McLaughlin, Ciara Schult, Makenzie Woodward and Amanda Waugh.

Craig Horn, education and compliance officer for the agency, said each of the women needed to complete all phases of the training within one year of employment to secure their positions.

Waugh hopes the efforts put into the courses, while time consuming, will see her current part-time role move into a full-time position in the future. Having worked in a hospital setting for eight years, Waugh realized it wasn’t the life for her, but that she wanted to remain in the same field.

According to Schult, she chose the firefighter/paramedic career, because she wants to help those in her community.

“I grew up around friends who did this and was always into being an EMT,” Schult said. “Now I wanted to explore the fire side.”

Horn explained the women had to complete 155 hours of training for Firefighter 1, 40 additional hours for Firefighter 2 and 40 hours for HazMat. With the completion of training and earning their certifications, the women are now able to do active firefighting. Prior to receiving their certifications, Horn said, they could only assist and observe from the outside. Now they are able to do internal structural firefighting.

According to Horn, the death of a local firefighter in the line of duty last week leads all those training and serving in the role to reflect a bit on what can happen.

“Something like that definitely heightens awareness,” Horn said. “That awareness was maybe not so high a week or so ago.”

The women recognized Tuesday were part of a Firefighter 1 class Horn organized, so they could earn their certifications for their job with the county. The class was begun with these five women in mind; however, after opening it up to others in the county and in the surrounding area, 14 students took part. Of those, 12 were female, something Horn said is highly unusual. Twelve of the original 14 have passed their tests and earned certification, and Horn expects the final two to complete the requirements soon.

Now that the JCESA employees are fully certified, they can continue to service the county through placement in the volunteer stations throughout the county. Schult is currently assigned to Bakerton Fire Department, while Napier and McLaughlin work shifts at Independent Fire station in Ranson. Woodward serves as a full-time dispatcher for the county and will serve, along with Waugh, as part-time staffers with JCESA until possible full-time positions open.