Even though her own house was flooding, Jody Woodford, the Tulameen Volunteer Fire Department Chief, leapt into action, leading emergency efforts during the November 2021 flood and saving countless lives.
On Wednesday (March 22), Woodford was honoured for her heroic efforts during a ceremony where MLA Rolly Russell and Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness (EMCR) Bowinn Ma, presented her with the prestigious Medal of Good Citizenship. Woodford is one of 15 British Columbians to receive the award.
A firefighter for 24 years, the last 14 as chief, Woodford focused on coordinating her crew and other volunteers, saving lives with numerous simultaneous land and water rescues.
Woodford never left her post for several long weeks during the most active parts of the disaster, catching a few hours of sleep at the hall when exhaustion took over.
“I am grateful to the nominators, community members, volunteers, and my firefighters for their help during the floods and over the past year of recovery. I am honoured to receive the recognition,” said Woodford after receiving the medal.
Looking back on that time of crisis, she said she saw how bad it was getting and as a community member and a fire chief she had to help.
“As chief, I have the responsibility for looking after everyone’s safety. I genuinely care about the people in my communities,” she said. “I knew that the situation was deteriorating aro
A statement released by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport ireads:
Leading up to and during the horrific historical November 2021 flooding disaster, Jody provided heroic community support and leadership to people facing life threatening situations throughout the towns of Tulameen, Coalmont and three surrounding valleys. While under supreme personal pressure regarding her own home flooding, she focused on coordinating her crew and other volunteers, saving countless community members with numerous simultaneous land and water rescues.
Woodford led her crew and residents, as well as directed teams that later arrived from other volunteer fire departments and search and rescue to support her tireless crew. With the fire hall receiving shocked and vulnerable flood victims, some rescued by boat, ATV or who fled by swimming through flood waters at night, she immediately initiated creative sourcing for life support (clothing, medical, food, shelter).
She was involved in aiding overwhelmed residences isolated by road washouts, helping them clear their homes, if salvageable, and assisting when a helicopter would deliver food, medicine, diapers, animal feed, clothing, and water.
The volunteer fire chief also helped coordinate well water testing to prevent potentially devastating community illnesses. Though her own house was flooded, as the immediate emergency eased she helped a senior neighbour rebuild her home, before starting work to repair her own.
Woodford received the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers in 2016 and in 2014, she received the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award for her dedication and service to the Coalmont/Tulameen Fire Department.
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