Cara WoodVolunteer Firefighter, Fire & Life Safety Educator, Fire Prevention Officer
Cara's Story :
When I read the bios of the many fabulous women in our midst, and see the questions answered by my fellow fire department members, I am humbled at the thought of being included in such a diverse and stunning group of women.
I have to say that writing this made me really look at what I do and who I am, since I don’t look at myself and think, “I inspire people”.
I think to understand and fully appreciate who a person is you need to know a little about where they come from.
I was born in June of 1978, which was two months earlier than expected, weighing in at 2lbs 13oz. I then spent the first eight weeks of my life in PRHC.
My parents always said I was just determined and eager to get going in life and those two traits have never left me.
Being part of a fire service was not something I necessarily dreamed of as a kid. However, I like to think that helping people has always been something that I wanted to do in some way or another.
The OSM Fire Service was a big part of my life growing up. Before my time, my paternal grandfather was the Fire Chief of Otonabee. We have family pictures of the emergency phone in his home, and what was to become my childhood home. My Dad has been a member of the Otonabee-South Monaghan volunteer department for 34 years now (and counting). Growing up in the village of Keene, many nights we were awakened by the now retired air raid siren and then Dad;s pager beeping, followed by the sound of my Dad running through the house to go and help those in need. My Mom, who is a wonderful, caring, and generous woman, was also a steady constant in my life. My parents were instrumental in instilling in me the wonderful values of family, community and caring.
Starting with the OSM Fire Department 13 ½ years ago as the Administrative Assistant to the Fire Chief was like getting my dream job. I loved it! I was given the opportunity to work in my community, for the people of my community. A community I grew up in and love.
My insightful and innovative Fire Chief realized that I was capable of more and saw I was eager to grow in my role within our department. Over several years I trained to become an Emergency Responder, a Fire and Life Safety Educator as well as a Fire Prevention Officer. These roles have allowed me to educate our community in the ways to stay safe from fire, conducting fire inspections within our community and identifying potential fire hazards before they cause an emergency. My added responsibilities pulled me out of my comfort zone and I now speak to groups ranging from kindergarten classrooms to larger community groups.
When I think back to when I was deciding what to be ‘when I grew up’, I can;t say that one specific thing lead me to where I am today.
Prior to working with OSM Fire, I held a few different positions, gaining experience in the areas of customer service, finance, business administration and human resources. These disciplines helped me to see that it doesn’t matter what your role is in this world, it’s being kind to people that really makes a difference. It is
amazing to see what a positive outlook and a smile can do to change someone else’s attitude. I try my best to bring these things to my world every day.
With a positive outlook and the mindset that while you never know what a day will bring, especially in the fire service, tackling things that get thrown at you with a smile and the knowledge that this too shall pass, gets me through most days.
That being said, I don’t have super-human positivity. I mess up. I struggle. I am always learning and adapting.
One of my favourite roles in life is being a parent. I can’t imagine life without our two boys. My husband Rob (who also happens to be a firefighter) and I now realize that keeping up with our boys can be challenging. Beyond their busy schedules and juggling life, our kids throw things at us that we could never have imagined we would have to deal with (and we have not even hit the teenage years yet).
Being surrounded by the great people that I have in my life is a true gift and I know that life without those you love in it, is no great life.
They say that life is a journey, not a destination, and I would have to agree. We need to always be learning and growing, as we change within ourselves. Learning changes us, situations change us, and experiences change us.
The important thing is to keep working at being you, and don’t settle for less than your best.