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Making a Difference
Jessica Carscadden is a very special little girl. Born in China and placed in an orphanage, she struggled with some serious medical conditions. There wasn’t much hope for a bright future. But, at age 5, she was adopted by the Carscadden family of San Diego County. Despite some lingering medical issues, Jessica now has a bright future. And she has made it her mission to brighten the lives of other children as well.
Two years ago, Jessica started donating stuffed animals to police and fire stations throughout Southern California with the hopes that a stuffed animal might bring a smile to the face of a child involved in a fire, accident or other tragedy. So far, she has donated stuffed animals to 420 emergency response vehicles in Southern California and Nevada, most recently, San Bernardino County, CA.
On March 27, the San Bernardino County’s Office of the Fire Marshal graciously accepted a sizeable donation of stuffed animals. Bags of stuffed animals will go on the various engines, squads and paramedic units stationed throughout San Bernardino County Fire’s vast area of service.
On her website, Jessica says, “The fire department comes into contact with children at fires, auto accidents or EMT calls. The kids they meet are often scared. I thought kids would be less scared if the fireman had a stuffed animal to give [them]. The fireman didn’t have any stuffed animals and were happy I donated mine.”
To support Jessica in her goal of “putting stuffed animals into every police, fire and ambulance vehicle in Southern California” you can email her (firstname.lastname@example.org), visit her website (wecarebears.webs.com) or visit her facebook page (facebook.com/WeCareBearsProject).
On the Move
Captain Michael Breazeal has retired after serving 26 years with the Kern County (CA) Fire Department and six years with the Los Angeles City Fire Department.
The San Bernardino County (CA) Fire Department announced the retirement of Assistant Chief Peter Brierty after 35 years of service to the community.
Long time Operations Chief Mike Heston has been named Pullman, WA, Fire Chief. Heston replaces Scott LaVielle who served the department for only a year before announcing his retirement.
Part of the Brotherhood Family
“If something happens and you’re in a fire, it doesn’t matter who’s next to you, as long as you can trust they can get you out,” said Airman 1st Class Emily Beckerjeck, a firefighter with the 31st Civil Engineer Squadron.
A number of women like Beckerjeck are currently serving in non-traditional career fields at Aviano Air Force Base, Italy, contributing to the Air Force mission every day with their hard work and dedication, working side-by-side with men in jobs that, a few decades ago, were not available to women.
As a firefighter, Beckerjeck responds to aircraft, airfield and structural fires, hazardous material incidents, search and rescue missions and the many everyday tasks required of any male firefighter, to include carrying gear that can weigh up to 75 pounds.
Beckerjeck’s motivation to become a firefighter stemmed from the idea of women’s equality, and proving that girls can do whatever guys can do.
“There's no limit anymore,” she said.
Since the job is very physically demanding, she and her fellow Airmen must train every day to build up their strength and ensure they are able to carry out the mission, Beckerjeck said.
Firefighters at Aviano AFB work 24-hour shifts and are often required to spend holidays and special occasions away from their families.
Despite being separated from her family in the states, Beckerjeck said that the firefighters here have taken her under their wing.
“It’s not a brotherhood anymore, since I’m in it,” she said. “Now it’s a family.”
Beckerjeck and her firefighting family frequently welcome children into the fire station for tours and demonstrations. Beckerjeck also recently visited a school in Roveredo, Italy, to educate children about her job as a firefighter and share her story as a woman serving in the military.
“I love being an inspiration to little kids, especially little girls,” Beckerjeck said. “It’s so awesome when they say ‘I want to be just like you when I grow up.’”
And thanks to women like Beckerjeck, now they can.