Hello everyone! I am Vanessa May, team assistant in the Human Relations Communications department at Continental in Hannover, and I have been with the Mariensee local fire service for 15 years, and in active service for eight.
I’m neither particularly tall, nor particularly strong. But if I am called out after work or at the weekend, I can more than hold my own with my male colleagues, whether a fire has broken out in my home village or a neighboring municipality, a storm has uprooted trees that have fallen on roads, cars and houses, or floods have inundated cellars.
The local fire service is called out between 30 and 40 times per year. To ensure that it will be able to continue to do so in the future, I also take care of the next generation on top of my active service. I became youth director at the age of 20, assuming responsibility for managing the youth group. Ever since, I have been teaching 20 youngsters between the ages of 10 and 17 once per week, in a playful and theoretical manner, what the fire service does in the event of a fire, or if a field or building somewhere is ablaze. There is a curriculum like that at school that you can work from. First aid is also covered. In addition, there are youth fire service competitions, camps, film evenings and litter-picking sessions with the youngsters.
All this requires a lot of free time. The flexible working time model at Continental helps me to combine my job and fire service work. And even if I am occasionally unable to sleep in on a Sunday morning, or go for breakfast because I have, for example, to drive to the year’s first meeting of youth directors, I know why I am doing my voluntary work. For me, the best thing about my youth work is when the boys and girls I have looked after for years climb aboard the fire truck with me to attend a call-out. That makes me really proud.
Other aspects of my fire service work are the camaraderie and cohesion. This is really rewarding. And the gratitude of the people I have been able to help in an emergency situation is a constant reward for my endeavors.
Just like at Continental, where all training sessions that cannot take place virtually had to be canceled, we are not allowed to have a training service – either for adults or for our youth and children’s section. Nevertheless, we are trying to keep theoretical teaching going and are conveying the content online instead. We also provide links to interesting tutorial videos for our girls and boys. It is very important during this time to keep chatting with the youngsters and to cheer each other up as well.
As you would expect, regarding our routines before and during deployment, we have also switched to the new clearance requirements and adapted the precautions. Everything serves to protect the safety of our crew in use whilst still remaining ready for deployment. After all, fires or accidents occur regardless of a pandemic.
Stay safe! Stay healthy!
This article was written by our employee.