The academy for my department is notoriously grueling. It’s also 21 weeks long. I had seen many videos of previous classes’ academies and was very intimidated. I had heard many horror stories of the academy while I was completing my EMT and Pima academy. Long story short, they were all true. Every one of them.
The academy was the toughest, yet most rewarding six months of my life. I met some of the finest people there and have seen and done some incredible things. At the end of all of it, I am ready to begin from a solid base and learn how to be the best firefighter I can be.
I am torn between saying too much and saying too little. The whole academy is a process. It’s designed to shape you in certain ways. To tear you down, then build you up. They do that, and it is painful. There were many days that I wondered if I would survive. There were also days when I wondered if others would survive as they were loaded into an ambulance. The heat was absolute murder, and we were out there in all of our gear working and suffering. At the same time we were learning our true limits, coping mechanisms, and how to focus on a task regardless of the distractions. It was hell.
The staff worked tirelessly before, during, and after to make a great program. From my perspective it was a complete success. I have great admiration and gratitude for all of the staff. They were truly dedicated to their craft of turning out competent and humble public servants.
My team … Where to start… We all come from widely varying backgrounds and ended up building a pretty cohesive team through the trials and rigors of academy. We all share a bond that I hope will last the rest of my life. There is no way I could have made it through this academy without them. Each person had their personal trials to get through, but as a team we all lifted each other up when it mattered most. I thought I understood team before, but I really do now.
My family suffered through this as much (if not more) than I did. My incredible wife did literally tons of ironing and an incredible amount of food prep (cuz you gotta feed the machine ). She carried all of the weight at home, as most of the time, I would get home utterly exhausted and still have to study for hours. Weekends were full of me studying all day, every day, and her pulling all the weight of running a household full of crazies! My children were always encouraging and positive. Each one of them prayed for me every day and was uplifting to me when I got home. They were all such an incredible support. I would have collapsed under the weight of it all in the first week. They carried me all the way in. I thank God for Ciara, Jeremy, Layla, and Deanna every day.
I have also had an extensive network of friends and family that have been encouraging me and praying for me. Thank you to all of you as well. I love you and appreciate you!
The title of this post is “We made it.” I truly believe this was a group effort. Not only my academy team 15-2, but my personal team. My family and friends all contributed in massive ways to me getting a badge pinned to my chest yesterday. I was merely the pointy end of the spear. They provided all of the thrust.
Thank you God for this opportunity, this department, this team, this family, this life. Your grace and generosity know no bounds.