Lynn Falconer Named Paramedic of the Year for Moses Lake Fire Department

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MOSES LAKE — Lynn Falconer said she originally volunteered as a firefighter to gain experience with a fire department. She thought it would help her in her efforts to get a job as a 911 dispatcher, but instead it was the introduction to a whole new career.

Falconer was hired by the Moses Lake Fire Department in 2019 and was named MLFD Paramedic of the Year in December.

She first volunteered for the Ephrata Fire Department in 2012, she said, after failing to get that dispatch job.

“I wanted to volunteer, I wasn’t sure where the firefighters would take me,” she says. “I ended up falling in love with (firefighting).”

The job not only allows him to help people in difficult situations; it’s also different every shift.

“Once I started it was so addicting. Caring for people – really making a difference, having a fast-paced environment. Coming here, I never know what the day is going to bring. This job is just fulfilling overall. I felt like my cup was always full, working as a firefighter,” she said.

As a paramedic, Falconer’s training allows her to offer more advanced treatment techniques than an emergency medical technician. At MLFD, firefighters work 48-hour shifts, divided into two halves.

“We usually spend a day working on the fire truck and a day working on the medical unit,” she said. “But we cross as needed. So sometimes when you’re on that (fire) engine, you’re still working as a paramedic on call.

She cited Friday morning as an example. She was assigned to the ambulance when a fire call arrived and help from the ambulance crew was needed to fight the fire.

“We carry all our gear, get dressed and move into firefighting operations,” she said.

Falconer said her early experiences at Ephrata prompted her to pursue further training, starting as a paramedic. She went to work for a private ambulance company in 2015 and got her paramedic certification. After four years there, she applied to the MLFD and was hired.

She is one of two women on the Moses Lake team; Falconer and Samantha Wright were hired within weeks of each other and were the first women in the department. They are always the only women. In general, firefighting is still a male-dominated field, she said.

“There are approximately 1.2 million firefighters in the United States,” she said. “And of that 1.2 million, they think about 8% are women. This is it,” she said.

Part of the reason, she says, is that women don’t realize they can do it. She is launching a program this summer to introduce girls to the profession of firefighter. Camp Fireproof will be for girls approximately 16-19 years old.

She came up with the idea for Women and Fire, a support group for female firefighters, she said. Other departments across the country have set up similar camps.

“I hope for this summer camp that we can show young girls what it takes to be a firefighter, but also show them what it takes to be strong, independent and resilient women,” he said. she declared.

Participants will learn about the fire service and its traditions, fire behavior, basic firefighting techniques, nutrition and physical fitness. Falconer said she wants participants to push themselves and know they can be successful.

“These days are going to be tough on the driving range, but I really hope they leave here both empowered and thinking, ‘You know what? I can do it. I’ll do it when I’m older,” she said.

Department chief Brett Bastian supported the idea, she said, and she is grateful for the support she has received from MLFD officers and firefighters.

“They’re so receptive to letting us explore and build, and they’re our biggest cheerleaders here, enabling us to continue these programs,” she said.

Falconer also spoke with the administrators of the Columbia Basin Technical Skills Center, encouraging them to add a fire science program to the skills center curriculum.

But it’s also important to know if it’s not the right career, Falconer said, because it’s not for everyone.

“It won’t be appropriate for everyone,” she said. “I think it takes a special personality to be a firefighter, whether you’re male or female.”

The work can be physically demanding, involving heavy lifting and carrying, and not all women have the physical ability to do this.

“Your height matters. Your strength matters,” Falconer said. “It’s tough work.

It can also be hard work mentally.

“We work 48-hour shifts and sometimes we barely sleep during those shifts,” she said.

Emergencies can and do happen when they happen, no matter what.

“An emergency doesn’t care if you’re on vacation; it doesn’t matter if you eat; it doesn’t matter if you sleep; no matter what your plans were or what you were doing,” she said. “You have to be willing to let go of what you’re doing – and take action.”

For Falconer, the benefits outweigh the challenges.

“But it’s so rewarding. It’s not just the person who’s been saved by us, or whose suffering we’ve eased for them – they’re not the only people who are really affected by this. It can be a such a rewarding career when you manage to reduce the suffering of others,” she said.

Most of the calls are not the kind of emergencies that require life-saving response, she said.

“But on a daily basis, we can be compassionate and we can alleviate the suffering. Even if it’s holding hands, reassuring someone that everything is fine – just showing up sometimes is a relief for people,” she said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached by email at [email protected]

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