Today is International Women's Day, and to celebrate we're recognizing some of Strathmore's strong women who help support our community.

Katelyn Redekopp is one of many who go above and beyond to make our community better. In her case, she's a volunteer firefighter for the Strathmore Fire Department, on top of working casually as a 9-1-1 call taker and fire dispatcher servicing all of Wheatland County.

While volunteering time to serve the community as a firefighter is already a big time commitment, Redekopp explained way more work goes into it than simply showing up for your shift.

"(The training) is about a 14-month program, so lots of Tuesday nights, lots of weekends that we're giving up with family and friends. We do live fire training down in Vulcan at their burn tower, each day is a new topic and new skill learned. Anything from medical to driving the apparatus to pulling hoses, different hose lays, and everything like that," she said.

Being a firefighter also means you have to be in great physical shape, which requires a strict training regiment all on its own. Luckily, Redekopp also works as a personal trainer, so keeping up a fitness routine was something she was already doing.

Prior to going down this route, Redekopp worked as a real estate agent and owned her own shoe store, so it's definitely been a big switch career wise, but she says she made the right choice.

"I traded my high heels for fire boots and sneakers because I'm doing something totally different than what I used to do. For me, ultimately it came out of a place of choosing happiness over making the most money possible."

For Redekopp, choosing happiness was all about finding ways to support the community and give back however she could. 

"Being able to help others and just trying to make their bad day a little bit better is what I enjoy doing and having used emergency services myself, I know how important it is to have people who care and love what they do." 

"Just trying to make that day a little bit better is what made me want to take that direction." 

She started responding to calls in 2022 and has already responded to a wide variety of emergencies, including medical, motor vehicle accidents, diesel spills, and of course fires. Responding to emergencies takes a lot of mental toughness and fortitude which can be difficult at times, but Redekopp's desire to help people helps her push through and do what needs to be done. 

Redekopp isn't alone at the fire department either, as she mentioned there are nine other female firefighters at the SFD who also put in countless hours of work to keep our community safe. While the work is demanding, Redekopp says the opportunity to help people makes it all worth it, and she even enjoys the smaller things as well.

"I can truly say that I love all aspects of it, from driving the fire truck to pulling hose, reracking hose, it's all really been a great experience." 

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