Friday, 08 February 2013 10:57

Human Library Book loves new program

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Standing at the Human Library launch at the Medicine Hat Public Library, Medicine Hat Fire Department’s Jeff Kozakewich, a senior diver and a team leader of one of the scuba rescue teams, talks to an older female library patron about his work.


He tells her all about his job and she listens intently, almost hanging on every word.
Every so often, she asks a question and sincerely wants to hear the answer. It’s not small talk, she wants to know a lot of different aspects of what it’s like and what kind of training is involved. This conversation goes on for nearly 25 minutes.
While it wasn’t an official withdrawal of a “human library book” it might as well have been. And from the woman’s reaction and the look of satisfaction on Kozakewich’s face, the Human Library program should be a success if utilized by the public.
The 15-year firefighter is more than happy to oblige. For him, it’s more than just another outline for the fire department’s public relations/education program. He loves libraries.
“My dad (currently) works at the public library here,” said Kozakewich about his father who has worked in library systems for a long time. “I grew up in a library.
“They knew who I was so they asked if I could take part. They explained it to me clearly, when you and a person have an agreed-to time, we keep it unless something comes up.”
For Kozakewich, his family is his first priority, but because of his shift work, library officials are able to work around his schedule. He said he does have some free time, but with the program, it’s flexible because it’s so well organized. Besides, Kozakewich loves talking about his job and informing the public about what he and his fire fighting brethren do.
“People are always curious; people want to know what you do,” explained Kozakewich. “I always like to clarify what I call the Hollywood misunderstandings. I’m proud of what I do, but I want to provide truths of what we do. It’s not all fires and glamourous rescues ... I just want to get the information out there.”
In his conversation, Kozakewich describes his ascent in his profession starting out fighting fires in the Cypress Hills Provincial Park as his base, then his move to the Swift Current (where he met his wife) and working with the fire department there and then his eventual move to Medicine Hat about 10 years ago.
He works not only with the fire department and the diving rescue and recovery team, but also with public safety, and is an expert on handling hazardous materials.
He sees this Human Library as not only an opportunity to talk with the public, but perhaps even talk to would-be recruits and the physical and mental testing they do for new recruits such as whether or not a candidate is claustrophobic (fear of tight, closed in areas) or acrophobic (fear of heights).
“I think this is a good program,” said Kozakewich.

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Ryan Dahlman

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