One World Scholarship 2015

One World Scholarship Summary 2015

2015 One World Scholarship Recipients: Nolan Pick, Conrad Gallagher, Steve Oishi, Ben Gutowski

Submitted by: Kim Saulnier (2015 OWS Facilitator)

Panama - 2014 OWS

The One World Scholarship program enjoyed yet another successful program, this its’ second year in Panama, Central America. Four recent graduates of the Career Fire Fighter Pre-Employment Program at the Justice Institute of British Columbia successfully competed for this year’s program which is funded by the Irving K. Barber Foundation and the Victoria Foundation. This year’s recipients were given the opportunity to travel throughout Panama in order to gain a deeper understanding of the provision of fire & emergency services in the context of a developing nation. This was accomplished by visiting over 20 fire stations from one end of Panama to the other. During these station visits, the One World Scholarship (OWS) team delivered a short but informative presentation of a number of firefighter rescue techniques – in Spanish! The OWS program provides 20 hours of language training during the first week of the 23-day itinerary in order to help prepare for their demonstrations. More importantly, however, the Spanish lessons allowed our scholars to communicate and develop relationships with our Panamanian brothers and sisters.

The 2015 participants had an extraordinary experience in Panama. The program coincided with Carnaval – a four day summer street party complete with parades, pageants, concerts and fireworks displays. This allowed our scholars to work alongside the Bomberos of the Panama fire service during the largest operational event of the year. This included working three full night shifts in which they attended a rollover motor vehicle incident, medical emergencies that were the result of long days of imbibing in the hot sun for Carnaval, and the dismantling of an African killer bee hive. There was even a call to remove a boa constrictor from a private residence. During the final evening of festivities, all four participants worked in the field, ensuring public safety and being response-ready for any situation.

The OWS team was warmly welcomed at each and every fire station we visited. At the regional cuartels (headquarters), we were often treated to a live demonstration of various firefighting and rescue techniques including hose deployment for a car fire, lift and carry techniques, killer bee removal and wildland fire tactics. Of note was our visit to Bugaba Cuartel where the bomberos had set up a combat challenge course. After they did their demonstration, the OWS team donned firefighting personal protective equipment and were invited to give it their best shot! It was a great opportunity for both professional and fraternal exchange.

The last ten days of the schedule saw the four OWS participants working beside the FRITA deployment team of professional firefighters. This gave the aspiring Fire graduates the opportunity to assist with the delivery a week-long training program which included two days of live fire exercises. All scholars would agree that their Spanish skills, along with their firefighting skills, were put to the test! We are happy to report that the OWS team did an excellent job and represented both FRITA, the Justice Institute of British Columbia and the Canadian fire service in the best possible light.

Our program also seeks to provide its recipients with opportunities to explore the national culture of our host countries. Carnaval was an excellent opportunity to see Panama at its best with its vibrant pageantry, music and dance. No visit to Panama is complete without visiting the Canal Zone. The Cuerpo de Bomberos honoured us by taking us on a VIP tour of the canal locks which is usually off limits to civilians. We also explored the more historical parts of Panama City including Casco Viejo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and to Plaza Cinco de Mayo which houses a fallen firefighter monument commemorating the loss of six firefighters on May 5, 1914. Thus concludes the 6th year of the One World Scholarship program, a joint partnership between FRITA, the Justice Institute of BC, and with support from the Irving K Barber Foundation.