Chris Cadette, in the frontline of the fight against COVID-19
is Dominica’s Fire Officer of the Year, 2020
At the frontline of the fight against COVID- 19, doctors and nurses are receiving the bulk of praise for their life saving efforts. But many others, in various sectors, have provided exemplary service to their communities.
Among these heroes is Dominica’s Fire Officer of the Year, Chris Cadette of Morne Jaune.
Cadette was in December, recognized for his leadership in efforts to combat the spread of the virus.
“Consistency is key. I think I am Fire Officer of the Year because I perform at a consistently high level and I have been supportive of the management of the department in achieving the collective goals,” Cadette says, as he recounts the long days and nights fire officers spent transporting suspected COVID-19 cases to medical centers and to quarantine facilities in Portsmouth.
The Fire and Ambulance Service, in November, reported that working closely with the Contact Tracing Team, it had responded to 1493 COVID-19 calls. One month later, the Ministry of National Security & Home Affairs recognized 25 fire officers for their work in support of those affected by Covid-19.
“Our response so far has been remarkable and we must continue to uphold this level of excellence.
“I salute the chief, deputy and the fire men and women for their responsiveness, their willingness to learn and roll with the punches, and for always searching for ways to maximize output and productivity. You have shown us that when our backs are against the wall, you will deliver and you will do so with a smile, with love and with compassion,” Permanent Secretary, Jo-Anne Commodore told fire officers.
Cadette was recognized for resourcefulness and leadership and “tremendous support to the offices of the Deputy and Chief Fire Officer regarding budgeting, logistics, procurement, and as Supervisor of the Fire Prevention Unit.”
His PS, Commodore, has high praise for Cadette.
“This is one deserving young man,” she gushes to eMAGE.
“I love the fire officers. These are hardworking guys, but Chris is a true leader.”
Cadette says as Dominica began to confirm COVID-19 infections, his colleagues developed a rigorous routine to keep citizens safe while protecting their own families from the new virus.
“Before we [Fire officers] entered our homes, we had to remove our clothes, our shoes, take a bath before doing anything else. This was a daily, 30 minute routine before we could even see our loved ones and I think it took a mental toll on all of us,” he told eMAGE, as he recalls the frustrating period.
His most worrying moments, he relates, were coming home to his wife, newborn baby and asthmatic daughter, after a day spent among officers who may have been exposed to the virus while on duty.
“Due to these new stresses of the job, many of us got in touch with our spiritual side, because I think during that time it was important to seek solace in Yahweh Almighty, for protection and courage to deal with the unknown and maintain a level head for our families,” he says.
Cadette is tasked with ensuring that his fire officer colleagues are equipped for their often grueling tasks, a job, he says, posed new challenges during the COVID-19 period.
“Given that borders were shut down, we were not sure if we would have received enough suits, enough masks. Suppliers raised their prices and this made it difficult to source affordable equipment, but we made the best use of what we had, and I have to say we did well as a unit,” he asserts.
Cadette now has his eyes set on upping his game as efforts continue nationally to contain the Coronavirus and return the country to a state of normalcy.
“The work is just beginning. Yes, I am Fire Officer of the Year but I am focused on the work to keep my fellow citizens safe. I look forward to doing this along with all the hardworking fire men and women at the department. It really is a team effort,” Cadette says, in a nod to the bravery and dedication of his fellow fire officers on display during these dark times.