Sacrifices in the line of duty are a source of pride, says Tay firefighter

·2 min read

A quick rush of adrenaline helps this Victoria Harbour volunteer firefighter jump into action.

But when the pager goes off, said Andrew Marshall, and the dispatcher issues the information about the call, family members are also nervous.

"It's a sacrifice, no question," he said. "I've had to leave my wife at a restaurant to go to a call. I've had to leave a haircut midway to leave for a call. I've had to leave Christmas dinner just as it was set on the table.

"But we do it proudly and our family supports us and that's the greatest," noted Marshall, who was awarded a 10-year service pin during a recent virtual council meeting. His colleague James Thomas also received a 10-year service but wasn't available to provide comments.

In an interview with MidlandToday, Marshall talked about the day he applied for the position.

"I remember going and applying," Marshall said, whose father was a volunteer firefighter on Manitoulin Island. "We were here for two years when I decided it would be a good way to get involved with the community and help out. I can't believe 10 years have gone by. It's been a great organization to be a part of."

As an operating room nurse at the Royal Victoria Hospital and an emergency room nurse at the Georgian Bay General Hospital, he found he was somewhat used to dealing with the situational stress that comes with firefighting.

"The thing to remember is that these volunteers are from a variety of backgrounds," Marshall said. "They're not accustomed to dealing with this kind of stress."

Nonetheless, he said, he likes the challenge, even if it is nerve-wracking.

"Thankfully, a lot of our calls are fairly minor," Marshall said. "There have been some serious traumatic calls. They take their toll on everybody especially those who are involved in frontline healthcare."

Despite all that, he said, it's been a great decade and he hopes to put in another 10 with his team.

"They're a great family," Marshall said. "It's very motivating to help out with the community. And you see that through the non-firefighting emergency stuff we do. We open the hall for Halloween every year. And the food drives we do. The community is really appreciative of it, and that's where you get to interact with them."

At the council meeting, Mayor Ted Walker thanked the firefighters.

"On behalf of council, not only do I want to congratulate you, but also to thank you for making such a positive contribution to the township in keeping all of us safe," he said. "We also want to extend that thank you to your spouses and families being on-call 24/7. You miss family events because you're on duty."

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com