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Saskatoon has 15 new firefighter paramedics

Sawatzky says she hopes more young girls will consider becoming firefighters.

SASKATOON — Karla Sawatzky and 14 of her classmates in the Saskatoon Fire Department’s Summer Class of 2022 will begin their firefighter paramedic career on Monday, July 25, ready to serve the city and other nearby communities.

The 15 recruits, who received their badges and assignments during an hour-long ceremony on Friday at SFD’s Station 1, completed their basic training in firefighting, technical rescue, hazardous material mitigation and fire inspections.

Their training prepared them to work in high-hazard emergency scenes while also being licensed Primary Care Paramedic through the Saskatchewan College of Paramedics.

There are now 13 female firefighter paramedics with the graduation of Sawatzky and fellow Summer 2022 Class member Ceris Twa. The 15 graduates join the 280-strong firefighter paramedics of the SFD.

Sawatzky told SASKTODAY that being a firefighter paramedic was not her childhood dream but her career path moved towards it as she got older.

“I had a strong interest in physical fitness as well as an interest in looking out for my community, that’s why I pursued firefighting. As I got older, I started to realize that much of the values and skills of being a firefighter aligned with my interests,” Sawatzky said.

“Helping others is what I want to do. I love to be here for people on their good days or their bad days and to cater to all people of different backgrounds.”

She hopes more young girls will consider choosing a career as a firefighter as they get older.

“I would say to them [young girls], if it’s something important to you, like anything in life, definitely look into it. Look ahead to see what types of requirements are there, for you to pursue that goal, both as far as education and physical abilities go,” added Sawatzky.

“If it’s something that you’re committed to, look at the positives and negatives that might be difficult mentally for you and weigh those things before you commit to something.”

Sawatzky said all 15 of them were firefighter paramedics and they will also assist with technical rescues, like water rescues.

“There are specific firefighters who are designated to perform the operations of those rescues. However, at this point, we will be assisting them. As our career furthers, we’ll be allowed to become technicians like those as well,” she added.

SFD Chief Morgan Hackl commended the dedication and hard work that each of the 15 recruits had put into their training to reach the milestone of joining the city’s fire service.

"When we seek recruits, we look for individuals who will contribute to the overall success of our team. With the growing number of EMS calls in our city, our crews need to be equipped with paramedic training. Having the added PCP certification means our firefighters can effectively respond to EMS incidents that occur in high-hazard situations,” said Hackl.

EMS incidents make up over 40 per cent of SFD's response, making the recruits’ PCP certification a valuable asset to the fire service.

He then challenged the new firefighter paramedics to put people first as they become members of an incredible team that serves the city and assists in nearby communities.

“SFD is focused on serving to the best of our abilities. And so for them, just enjoy the opportunity and always think about how we can serve the community to the best of our abilities,” added Hackl.

Councillors Sarina Gersher, David Kirton and Darren Hill, City of Saskatoon Emergency Planning Director Pamela Goulden-McLeod, International Association of Firefighters Local 80 President Morley Demarais, SFD Deputy Chief Rob Hogan, SFD Assistant Chief Yvonne Raymer, SFD Staff Development and Safety Assistant Chief Anthony Tataryn and former SFD Chief Brian Bentley were among the dignitaries that joined the family and friends of the 15 new firefighter paramedic graduates.

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