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Aims Gives Young Women A Chance To Experience Firefighting And EMS

Anna Hunt
Participants learning about firefighting gear at the Young Women Xplore Academy.

Firefighting and EMS careers are historically male-dominated. But one group of women hopes to change that.

Aims Community College held  their first Young Women Xplore Academy, a workshop designed to introduce young women to the fire service and EMS career paths.

“It’s important for young women to learn that they have opportunities in these fields,” said Julie Forbes, the EMS program coordinator at Aims. “You know, traditionally these are sort of male-dominated fields, and so it’s important for young women to know that, there are strong women working in these fields, and that they do have plenty of opportunities to get involved.”

During the three-day workshop starting on July 18th until July 20th, girls learned about the daily activities in fire service and EMS, their gear and how to use it, the science behind how fire behaves and the fitness and nutrition needed to be successful in the field.

Credit Aims Community College
Participants learn how to use the fire hose.

Pat Mialy, captain for the Loveland Fire Rescue Authority, led the workshop. 

“Well, ultimately, it comes down to that the girls will have a comfort zone, in knowing that if they do want to pursue a career in the fire service or some other non-traditional profession, that they certainly can,” said Mialy. “We’ve got more than a dozen female firefighters who are the instructors for this academy. And they are demonstrating with everything they are doing, everything they are saying with these girls, that women can be successful.”

Mialy’s hope is that the young women participating in the workshop can gain one valuable skill: self-confidence.

“We want them to feel more self-confident. Higher self esteem, to know that if they want a job in the fire service or any emergency services, that they can do it, that there’s lots and lots of people here to help them, including at the fire stations, and other parts of the country,” Mialy said. “And also to, to become a little bit more comfortable in their own skin, to know that it’s okay to be assertive for the right reasons.”

Organizers would like the event to happen annually. More exposure to successful women in non-traditional career paths can be inspirational for young women still in high school, said Mialy.

“It really is moving to see so many women, in the fire service -- so many, in fact, that we can hold an academy for an all-girl fire academy,” she said. “You know, that’s not something I ever thought that I would see in my lifetime.”

The National Fire Protection Association reported that in 2015, 7.3 percent of all firefighters were women. Organizers hope to bring more women into fire service and EMS to increase this percentage.

The three day academy was held July 18 and until July 20 at the Public Safely Institute on the Aims Community College - Windsor campus. The first year of the Young Women’s Xplore Academy coincides with Aims’s 50th anniversary.

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