The West Shore Local Hero Awards are back! You can find this year’s special feature in the March 16 edition of the Goldstream Gazette or online under e-editions. Stay tuned for more on each of this year’s honourees, you will also be able to read their stories online at goldstreamgazette.com/tag/local-hero-awards.
When first approached for the Local Heroes feature, Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop insisted there is no shortage of candidates equally deserving of consideration.
“There are so many unsung heroes in this community, and every community for that matter,” she said. “I’m honoured to be nominated because of my profile, but there are so many who work tirelessly to make contributions behind the scenes. They make changes for individuals and the community that result in a positive difference every single day. It’s really gratifying to see how people in Metchosin always step up to help others, especially during the past two years of COVID-19.”
As an example, Dunlop mentioned at-home caregivers who provide support, comfort and meals that bring smiles to the faces of the most fragile residents.
“There’s the people in emergency support services that are there to assist people dealing with a tragic event,” she continued. “The same holds true for all emergency services; police, fire, ambulance and their support staff.”
Volunteers who maintain parks and trails are another group the fire chief highlighted.
“They often go unnoticed, but what they do is so important, especially during the pandemic. We have people in our community who walk the beaches every day collecting trash. We may not see them, but the work they do is so important.”
Dunlop began her career serving as a volunteer firefighter for five years in the Okanagan. She joined the Metchosin Fire Department as a volunteer in 2000 and was appointed fire chief in 2008.
“I had the privilege of being one of the first women in the province to have a full-time paid position,” she said. “It’s an honour to get paid for something you love to do. Everything I’ve achieved or accomplished is the result of the efforts of the great people I’ve worked with in the past and the present at Metchosin, and that includes management personnel, community members and those who work behind the scenes.”
She listed some of the “really cool experiences” her position has allowed her to enjoy. “I’ve travelled to Peru with Firefighters Without Borders several times, and I’ve been to Brazil with the World Rescue Organization. Those were great opportunities to meet new people and broaden my skills.”
One of the most rewarding parts of her job, she said, is the level of commitment shown by firefighters, staff and the community at large.
“We all work well together. That’s what makes a small community so special.”
One of the goals Dunlop has set is to help create a regional network for training and resources to better prepare departments for the challenges of keeping people safe, whether in a small, rural community like Metchosin or a much more densely populated area.
“A regional network that involves all emergency resources is something that benefits everyone,” she said.
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