Jody Woodford, chief of the Tulameen Volunteer Fire Department, is one of 15 British Columbians to receive the prestigious Medal of Good Citizenship this year.
Woodford, who became chief of the department in 2008, and was a volunteer firefighter for 10 years before that, was recognized especially for her outstanding leadership during and after the flood of November 2021.
A statement released by the Ministry, Arts, Culture and Sport reads:
“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.
Jody never left her post for several long weeks during the most active parts of the disaster, catching a few hours sleep at the hall when exhaustion took over. She led her crew and local residents, as well as directed teams that later arrived from other volunteer fire departments and SARS teams 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) to prevent further trauma to victims.
The full impact of the disaster is still being uncovered. Jody’s unwavering compassion and commitment to these communities has her working long days, far outside her official fire department responsibilities, with all levels of government and relief agencies. Jody is involved in aiding overwhelmed residences isolated by road washouts, clear their homes, if salvageable, and helicopter in food, medicine, diapers, animal feed, clothing, and water; as well as coordinate well water testing to prevent potentially devastating community illnesses. Though her own house was flooded, as the immediate emergency eased she selflessly helped a senior neighbour rebuild her home, before starting work to repair her own.
Jody’s demonstration of passionate, effective caring has inspired her community to pull together and actively support each other through any crisis, whether flood or fire. Jody is a dedicated, visionary community role model. She is considered by those who know her to be one of the most unselfish and caring advocates, leaders and volunteers in the province. Jody 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.”
Woodford received the honour graciously, telling the Spotlight “I am honored to receive this medal. Thank you to those who nominated me for this. Thank you to my firefighters and communities for their hard work through out the past year. It is my honor to work with you.”
Established in 2015, the Medal of Good Citizenship acknowledges people’s remarkable service to community life. An in-person presentation ceremony will be held in 2023.
“It’s an honour to award these individuals with the Medal of Good Citizenship,” said Premier David Eby. “Each one of them embodies the traits of generosity, kindness and sacrifice for the benefit of others. Their actions touch so many lives, creating better communities throughout B.C. I commend each one of them. They are an example to all.”
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