Community Stories

Fighting fires and blazing trails

November 04, 2019

Clare Guse has responded to thousands of emergency calls in her nearly 20-year career as a City of Red Deer Emergency Services firefighter-paramedic. But one call she’ll never forget, came even before she was officially on the job.

“The Pine Lake tornado. I was the first medic out there.”

Guse was working in Innisfail on July 14, 2000, just weeks away from starting her new job with the City of Red Deer, when the massive storm slammed into a campground and trailer park.

“It had everything, triage, mass casualties, you name it,” says Guse. “That was a real eye-opener. I got to see the way the Red Deer crews worked and the level of organization that we have, it was just really impressive.”

She would see a lot more of it, making history that August as the first female firefighter-paramedic to serve with Red Deer Emergency Services. Now, nearly two decades later, Guse is blazing another trail. In October, she was named Red Deer’s first female Fire Captain - an impressive accomplishment for any firefighter, and one Guse admits didn’t come without a few challenges.

“We’d go into the schools and some of the kids would say ’You’re a girl!’ and I’d say ‘Yeah I’m a girl!’ Even people that I knew would see me driving one of the trucks and the look on their face would just be like ‘Oh you’re driving!’ and it’s like ‘Yeah, I get to vote too!’” she jokes.

These days Captain Guse is one of ten female firefighter-paramedics within Red Deer Emergency Services and one of twenty Captains.

“There’s more women for sure, and I think the doors are more open to everybody, whether that’s gender, race, different physical types, sexual orientation, whatever,” says Guse. I think it’s a different workforce in general and that’s carried into the fire department.”

“Clare has become a respected leader to both male and female firefighter-paramedics,” says Red Deer Emergency Services Fire Chief Ken McMullen. “She’s certainly well known for her attention to health and fitness and recognized for her specialty rescue skills.”

Now in charge of a five-person crew at Fire Station #3, Captain Guse downplays the fact that she’s breaking down barriers, but says she’s proud to be a role model for young girls with aspirations of becoming first responders. She says it would have been a much tougher journey, if she didn’t have the support of those around her.

 “You’re only as good as your team, so I’m always really glad I have really great people that I get to work with. They make my job easier.”

Congratulations Captain Guse, from all of us at The City of Red Deer!