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Powell River firefighter continues adding to skill set

Volunteer Karrah McKone relishes opportunities to help

Karrah McKone loves a challenge and can be described as a bit of an adrenaline junkie. She already has an impressive list of accomplishments at a young age.

In the fall of 2020, McKone added full service firefighter to the list. Graduating from Brooks Secondary School a year early in 2017, She worked at Valley Marine for a year before heading off to Nanaimo to attend Vancouver Island University, taking the heavy equipment operator program.

It was also in 2017 when McKone and her sister/best friend Sarah started their own salon, Zero to Sixty, where Karrah does lashes.

“Running my own business gives me a lot more flexibility for the fire hall; I revolve it around this because I love doing this,” said McKone. “I didn’t even know they were recruiting and I didn’t know anyone in the hall. I just called [Malaspina Volunteer Fire Department] chief Dave Keiver and thought I’d go in and meet him. I have no idea why I wanted to do it; being a firefighter seems pretty cool.”

It only took McKone two years to complete her training to become a full service firefighter. Recruits start out as exterior firefighters, moving onto interior and then full service. It is a process that can take years to obtain all the certifications needed to serve the community.

“I needed to do this now and as fast as I could because I don’t know where my life is going to be in a year or two,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to stay here or not so I wanted to complete it as fast as I could so it was done. I feel like if I dragged it on it would have never gotten done.”

McKone said she always signs up for things and sometimes wonders why later on.

“I always call my mom and ask: why did you never say no?” she explained. “I recently went to Vancouver to do my EMR [Emergency Medical Responder]. I always do these things. It literally proves that if I can do it, anyone can do it.”

McKone volunteers out of the Malaspina department south of town and attends to the majority of calls. 

“I love first responder calls, I love everything about it. I want to go on every call,” said McKone. “Everything I do out in the public to help, I’m more comfortable now, because I’ve already done most things, but at the same time there’s always more you can learn and improve on. Teaching other people is actually helping me.”

Familiar face

Born and raised in Powell River, McKone says attending to calls with people she may be familiar with can be difficult, however, she is still quick to offer assistance.

“If they know me maybe that will make them feel more comfortable, or I could help them in some way while someone helps the other person; sometimes someone just needs comfort,” said McKone. “At the time you’re there to help and you can only do as much as you can. If you weren’t there, who else is going to help them?”   

McKone says she plans on staying at the hall as long as she is able to. In the next five years she would like to take the PCP (Primary Care Paramedic) course to add to her knowledge.

“I had no idea what I was getting myself into but I have literally made all of my best friends; they’re all 50-plus but they’re all my besties,” she said. “It proves that me being such a young girl they’ll be accepting of anyone. Everyone is different from each other but you’re all one big weird family.”

McKone’s other passion is dirt bikes, so if she isn’t at the hall or her salon, she’ll be out on the trails surrounding Powell River.