11 Roanoke Valley recruits graduate from Fire-EMS Academy Friday

Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 6:42 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - 11 recruits graduated Friday from the 27th Roanoke Valley Regional Fire-EMS Academy. They received pins and awards in front of their families at the Berglund Center.

Todd Whalen is one of the 11 recruits who got pinned Friday in front of family at the graduation ceremony.

“It was definitely amazing to see them, they made the trip down from Pennsylvania, I was glad they could be my support system,” he said.

Whalen spent 13 weeks training with the recruits who are now firefighters/EMTs or paramedics for Roanoke Fire-EMS, Roanoke County Fire and Rescue, and Botetourt FIre and EMS. Whalen will be working for the city.

“It was a great program, there is a great cooperation in the valley between departments, definitely built a lot of family and relationships between the other recruits. It was definitely a challenging experience, we learned a lot about ourselves and a lot about each other, but it was an amazing experience overall,” Whalen said.

Roanoke Fire-EMS Chief David Hoback said recruitment has been down during the pandemic.

”I don’t think our numbers were as high as they have been in the past because of the pandemic, so we’re actually going through a recruitment process now, we’re hoping we’ll see a large turnout,” Hoback said.

He said this job isn’t for the faint of heart.

“It’s something that requires dedication, it requires passion, and it requires a commitment, and those are the people we want to hire,” he said.

People like Whalen, who is excited about transitioning from training to working.

“Its a great feeling being able to go out in the field and actually work with people,” Whalen said.

Now that these graduates are pinned, some will begin their work assignments as soon as Saturday morning.

Salem-Fire EMS did not have any recruits this year but they still helped to train this new Roanoke Valley class.

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