By Eric Elliott
Firefighting can be a grueling job. A normal day spending time with family can be turned upside down once the pager goes off, summoning volunteers to put their lives on the line to save others from fires and car accidents, or to find a missing person. At times, the work may even go unrecognized.
Last week, though, Invermere resident Edward Jones had his work recognized when he was awarded the Public Safety Lifeline Volunteer Award for his work in road rescue with Invermere Fire Rescue. Once a year, British Columbia recognizes public safety lifeline volunteer workers with an award to recognize their contributions to emergency and disaster response in the province.
For Mr. Jones, the award is a long time in the making. After growing up in the small town of Grand Prairie, Alberta, he moved to Calgary where he worked in restaurants for a number of years before moving with his wife Holly Jones to the valley in 2009. It was then, with more free time away from the bustling city life, that Mr. Jones looked into joining his local fire department as a way to give back to the community.
Ive always been interested in firefighting, whether or not Id pursue it as a career, he said. Every kid wants to grow up and be a fireman or policeman, something like that.
In 2011, Mr. Jones did just that, joining Invermere Fire Rescue as a volunteer dedicated to learning everything there is to know about being a firefighter. Invermere Fire Chief Roger Ekman says Mr. Jones has been exceptional in his work since joining the force as a regular citizen.
He became very proficient at what we do, Mr. Ekman said of Mr. Jones winning the award. Its great for Ed and our department and it shows the training that Jason (Roe) has kept up with so its been really rewarding.
Mr. Jones says its been a learning experience since his first day with the department. For him, its the training thats prepared him the most for stressful situations on and off the job.
Its prepared me to be more prepared during emergency situations, Mr. Jones said. Its taught me how to cope with stressful situations, situations where PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) might be an issue.
After bringing his newborn baby daughter Kathleen home from the hospital on March 14th, he received the call that he had been nominated for the provincial award.
They called me and told me I got nominated and Im like, Nominated for what? I could hear everything she was saying but nothing was sinking in, he said.
Mr. Jones and his family were invited to Victoria to accept the award, which was presented to him on April 28th at the B.C. Legislature after they had the opportunity to sit in on Question Period.
While Mr. Jones says hes appreciative of the award, its the team camaraderie that ultimately led to him earning it.
I dont even know if its fully sunk in yet, but its also about being a part of the team, he said. Without those guys behind me, I wouldnt be anywhere close to where Im at today.
For him, the award is recognition of all that is Invermere Fire Rescue.
Im not just one guy thats out there, Im just the one guy that got lucky enough to get a pat on the back for a job well done.