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May 30, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – I had one of the scariest moments in my life this week. It was not a big fire, or a serious medical call, or arriving first on scene in my personal vehicle with no equipment to help. No, it was my first ever presentation to colleagues at the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association’s conference in Red Deer.

May 30, 2013
By Rob Evans

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May 30, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – I had one of the scariest moments in my life this week. It was not a big fire, or a serious medical call, or arriving first on scene in my personal vehicle with no equipment to help. No, it was my first ever presentation to colleagues at the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association’s conference in Red Deer.

Speaking in front of people is not new to me, but speaking in front of my peers actually had me shaking. It was not until listening to Washington, D.C., retired fire chief Dennis Rubin that I realized just how nervous I had become. While trying to pour myself a class of water, fire chief Mike Cutknife from Tsuu T’ina Nation laughed and asked if the dinner on Monday was had been a “good one.” I could not keep my hand from shaking and it is amazing that I filled the glass without spilling water all over the place. Before I knew it, I was standing in front of a room full of chiefs from across the province, talking about my team at Redwood Meadows Emergency Services. I continued to let the nerves get the better of me, speaking too quickly, sweating like Mike Duffy in bunker gear, and adding the occasional um and uh. Thankfully, I had only a minor technical issue with my remote, and I settled in for what turned out to be a great session in front of fellow chiefs.

It turned out to be a great day; I met lots of new people, I was interviewed by the Red Deer Advocate about recruiting and retention, and I got that first presentation monkey off of my back. Thanks to Jasper Fire Chief Greg Van Tighem for contacting me and asking if I would speak at the AFCA conference; what a great learning experience it was for me, and I look forward to presenting at Fire-Rescue Canada 2013 in Regina come September.

Tuesday night was the fun night for everyone, with dinner and entertainment after a day full of speakers. The event was well attended, just as the entire conference had been, and I believe it was a nice wind down for the delegates. As always seems to be the case, I was part of a small group of chiefs who stuck around talking and laughing until the hotel staff asked us to leave so they could finish getting the room ready for the next day. While sitting there, we not only solved all of the world’s problems, but also took up a collection for Van Tighem’s Route 93 End to End to End MS bike tour, and we raised close to $300. It reminded me that no matter how much I viewed my presentation as a struggle, it does not even begin to parallel what people with MS experience – it was a good kick in the seat to help me realize that I should always look at the big picture and size up the entire scene.

Rob Evans is the chief fire officer for Redwood Meadows Emergency Services, 25 kilometres west of Calgary. Evans attended the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in 1989 and studied photojournalism. In 1992, he joined RMES after taking pictures of an interface fire and making prints for the department. He has his NFPA 1001 level II certification, NFPA 472 Operations and Awareness (hazmat), NFPA 1041 level I (fire service instructor), Dalhousie University Certificate in Fire Service Leadership and Certificate in Fire Service Administration and is a registered Emergency Medical Responder with the Alberta College of Paramedics. He lives in Redwood Meadows with his wife, a firefighter/EMT with RMES, and three children. Follow him on Twitter at @redwoodwoof.


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