05/07/2009: "SJI Firefighter Of Month"
Rebecca Kathryn Smith is the San Juan Island Firefighter of the month.
Where were you born? In the state that has 4 times as many cattle as people and their official soft drink is Kool-Aid...Nebraska.
What hobbies do you have? I’m an amateur photographer, ornithologist, naturalist, yachtswoman and book reader.
What is the most interesting job you’ve held? Probably my current one as a heavy rescue technician where I get to use the “jaws of life”.
What brought you to SJI? Our Columbia 8.7 meter sailboat. We anchored in Griffin Bay on a summer vacation and fell in love with the area.
What area do you live in? Cape San Juan -and never tire of the stupendous views.
What do you like about living on SJI? The camaraderie; neighbors helping neighbors; going to town for a 10-minute errand and getting home an hour+ later after chatting with numerous friends.
What do you find is the hardest part about living on SJI? Getting off and getting back on.
Familial status (married/family/pets): Married to Francis for 3+ decades; staff to 2 cats (Charles and Darwin) for ½ decade.
Name a favorite food and your favorite music: Chocolate anything. Grew up on Jazz (my father plays piano & trumpet); Classical (my Grandmother was a pianist and my 1st piano teacher); Folk and Rock ‘n Roll (the 60’s, of course).
What comes to mind when you hear “Only on SJI…”? I can dial a wrong phone number and end up talking with someone I know.
What is your position within the department? Engineer/Driver/Pump Operator/Rescue Technician/Firefighter. I was also a Fire Commissioner for 6 years.
When and why did you join the fire department? While we were building our house, neighbors Shirley Holmgren and Pete Plunkett dropped by regularly to bug us about joining up -turns out they wanted to retire and needed replacements. Now we’re nearly at the same place they were!
What do you like best about the department? Driving the big red engines.
What has been your most exciting event since joining the department? Running into (and not out of) a burning house -or maybe my first time as the pump operator, pumping the “wet stuff onto the hot stuff” -or maybe cutting the roof off of a car to extricate the patient. All pretty darn exciting.
What did you find the hardest Fire Fighter skill to learn? Pump operations-lots of technical stuff.
Do you have other volunteer activities? Yes, I’m also an EMT.
Describe your ideal day off: Wandering through American Camp and along the beaches, searching for those award-winning photographic opportunities of birds, bunnies, foxes, whales, flora and fauna, then lunch on the beach, followed by hors d'oeuvres on our deck in the sunshine.
What are you most proud of? I can think of several things: Helping folks, both as a firefighter and EMT, who may be experiencing the worst day of their lives; struggling through 10 years of night school for my BA; making the climbs up Mt Whitney and Mt Rainier and my first free-fall skydive (who knows - maybe jumping out of a perfectly good airplane prepared me for running into a burning building).
What would you like on your epitaph? She lived life to the fullest, laughed lots and loved expansively…and managed to put up with Francis all those years.