OFAI Stage 3 – Medical Skills

OFAI Stage 3 – Medical Skills

Hey guys, welcome back to our ‘OFAI Stage 3 Series’!

As many of you have requested over Instagram; I’ve created another post on how to pass the OFAI Stage 3 testing. This post will be geared towards the Medical Skills evolution.

(If you’re not following me on Instagram yet, I highly suggest you do clicking here!)

If you’re new to this blog series and aren’t familiar with OFAI testing and want to find out more, click here.

If you’ve read my previous posts regarding the stage 3 testing, than you know I try to break down each specific evolution into key steps in order to pass.

So below I’ve listed 5 steps candidates should take in order to pass the Medical Skills evolution during stage 3 testing.

So let’s begin!


1. Make sure you have a background in medical skills training (EMR at the very least).


Before going to attempt this test, candidates should have a general baseline understanding of medical skills.

If you only have your First Aid/CPR training, than I highly suggest you go out and get your Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) certificate before attempting.

Having this certification only helps your resume anyways so it’s best you go out and get it. For more info on getting your certifications head to the Red Cross site to look for branches in your area.

Without the proper Medical Skills training, you’re setting yourself up for failure.



2. Practice scenarios.


One thing I did to prep for this test was I would practice 2-3 scenarios with my fiancee every night after work. This helped me big time and made me feel much more confident going into testing.

I would have her come up with various scenarios for me to respond to, from trauma to difficulty breathing, anything was fair game. I then walked into the room as if I were a first responder and went through my entire assessment.

If you don’t have someone at home to practice with, ask a friend or family member.

It may feel awkward doing this but trust me guys there’s no better way to get yourself warmed up before the test.



3. Verbalize EVERYTHING.


“In this skill, you will perform your assessment and verbalize your treatment for all conditions and injuries discovered. You must conduct your assessment as you would in the field, including communicating with your simulated patient”. This statement can be found directly from OFAI’s website and i cannot emphasize this enough.

Despite OFAI listing this right on their website, candidates still forget to verbalize certain observations during their assessment of the patient.


For example, when you’re doing chest compressions verbalize your benchmark for hand positioning and mention you’re allowing full recoil during compressions. It may seem redundant but I guarantee you the proctor will see that you know what you’re doing.

It also gets you in the habit of verbalizing everything you’re doing or seeing so that you don’t forget any observation.



4. Anticipate doing CPR.


You WILL be doing CPR during your scenario.

“In order to successfully complete this skills test, candidates must have advanced first aid training, CPR training and the competence and training required to insert a properly sized oropharyngeal airway, operate a bag valve mask, apply an adult non-re-breather mask and describe the oxygen flow rate or concentration required”.

Again, OFAI is telling candidates directly on their site what is to be expected during your test. They clearly state everything you will be using and there are no curve balls. 

Make sure you know your compression rates and are familiar with giving proper CPR.

I stressed out a lot about this evolution prior to testing and I’ll be honest, it isn’t all that complicated guys!

They won’t be trying to trick you with anything and the scenario is very straight forward.

5. Be aware of common fails.

Here’s a list of some of the common mistakes candidates make (resulting in a fail):

-Forgetting to verbalize EMCAP prior to approaching patient
-Forgetting to insert an oropharyngeal airway
-ruling out c-spine
-compressions not deep enough/timed properly

So there you have it!

There’s not a whole lot I can go into detail about because to be quite honest this evolution is rather straight forward.

Just be sure to have had proper medical training before attempting and make sure you practice, practice, PRACTICE!

If you come in well prepared than you will have no problem passing this evolution!




5 Volunteer Gigs That Will Boost Your Resume

5 Volunteer Gigs That Will Boost Your Resume

Are you lacking quality volunteer experience on your resume?
Maybe you’re having trouble deciding on a volunteer organization that will look good on your resume?

Fire Departments seek candidates who are actively volunteering because it shows that the candidate is giving back to the community.

It’s important you’re resume is well rounded and that you’re not lacking the volunteer experience.

That’s why I’ve listed below 5 volunteer opportunities that will help solidify your resume.

So let’s begin.



1. Be a Big Brother/Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada



Let me start off by saying that this first volunteer opportunity is of a serious commitment and should not be taken lightly.

I highly suggest giving it some good thought before committing to being a Big Brother.

With that being said, being a Big Brother is a great opportunity not only for the resume, but for life experience.

I know first hand how great of a program this is because of my brother (my actual brother) is a Big Brother and he loves it. He has personally grown a lot from it and loves every minute of it.

How it looks on the resume:

It will show fire departments that you’re able to be a positive role model in your community, dedicated to help others with your own free time, and are able to be a good mentor.

For more information check out the national website here.



2. Medical First Responder (St. John Ambulance)



Need medical experience? Look no further.

St. John Ambulance is a great organization for poeple who want to be part of a medical environment.

As a Medical First Responder (MFR), you’ll be attending weekly meetings with your local branch which will consist of medical training and local event discussions. You’ll also be attending events in your community as a medical first responder.

I personally volunteered here for 4 years and had some great training and real medical experience during community events. I also was able to get my Advanced Medical First Responder (AMFR) certification for free (after putting in a certain amount of volunteer hours).

How it looks on the resume:

It will show fire departments that you have medical experience and are attending weekly training sessions to sharpen your medical skills.

There’s also several different positions within St. John Ambulance you can apply for such as the “Duty Officer” position, which is essentialy a position that leads the team of MFRs at local events (adding leadership skills to your resume).

For more information on becoming a MFR, click here.



3. Coach A Sports Team



Like playing sports? Why not coach a team?

It’s a serious time commitment, but if you love playing a certain sport than why not coach?

How it looks on the resume:

It will show that you are able to lead and direct a group of people to accomplish a task.
Also, if you’re coaching kids, it shows you’re a good influence to children and are comfortable being around them.

Lastly, recruiters will see you enjoy sports which translates to you being active and able to work as a team member.

To find opportunities simply do a quick google search for positions in your community.

For example you can search “volunteer hockey coach vancouver” or find out the name of the sporting league in your community and go to their website.



4. Municipal Volunteer Position



If you live in a community that has a decent sized population, than there’s a good chance your city employs volunteers.

For example, in my hometown they have volunteer positions that respresent the city as a Festival & Events Organizer. With this role you’re constantly injected into the community, making connections and building your network (which is always an added bonus).

Aside from the resume portion, here’s why a role like this can be of benefit to you:

First off, if there’s ever any opportunity to be a municipal employee with a city that you want to work for as a firefighter, JUMP ON IT.

Having an employee number with the city is a game changer. It allows you to apply to municipal jobs as an internal employee.

Not all municipalities have volunteer roles that give volunteer workers employee numbers, but it’s something worth looking into.



5. Volunteer Crisis Hotline Responder



As a Crisis Responder, you’ll be offering crisis, emotional support, and suicide prevention support to people who call in to the Distress Center.

Many municipalities offer these types of services so it’s best to do a quick google search for more information.

This role is also another serious commitment as most services require at least one shift per week.

How it looks on the resume:

Departments will see that you’re capable of offering emotional support to people in need. With mental health awareness growing rapidly in the fire service, this type of role shows departments you will fit right in with their vision.

To get a better idea of what’s expected in the role, click here for a link to the Toronto Distress Center website.




When it comes to choosing a volunteer role for your resume, there’s so many great options out there that you can access by simply doing a quick google search for volunteer roles in your community.

One thing I would suggest is to pick something you think you would enjoy doing. There’s nothing worse than having to go volunteer after work with something you dread doing.

So choose wisely and have fun with it! The fire recruitment process is a long one so you may as well enjoy it!


5 Resume Tips To Land A Firefighter Interview

5 Resume Tips To Land A Firefighter Interview


Resume Tips to Land a Firefighter Interview

By Chandra Drevjany, Principal, and Co-Founder, eLoft Careers.


There is an abundance of resume advice floating around today. Several demographic and economic factors have created an environment where applicants must work harder than ever to gain relevant experience and successfully land the interview. This is especially the case for those competing to enter the fire service. For this reason, it is critical to ensure you put your best foot forward with an amazing resume.

Below are our top 5 tips for aspiring firefighters to cut through the noise and build a resume that will land the interview!


Do Your Research

What can I say? Your resume is your #1 marketing tool. How can you build a great marketing document if you don’t understand what you are marketing yourself towards? Unless you take some time to think like an employer, you will never be able to differentiate yourself from the competition.


Tip #1:

Before writing your resume, do some goal job analysis. Know the fire service requirements inside out and dig out the specific requirements for the cities or towns to which you are applying (Click here to read more on job requirements). Next, read and highlight the requirements of the job to identify the similarities. Inevitably you will find that several of the skills, responsibilities, qualifications, and attributes will appear in multiple job ads. When you see this repetition, you have found the key! Match your qualifications to the top job requirements and be sure to highlight these in your resume. All you will need to do as you apply to specific fire service positions is make minor tweaks to the resume to make sure you have covered off any city or town specific requirements.


Don’t Get Discouraged – You Have a Lot to Offer!

Although you may have limited or no related work experience, it is important to recognize that you absolutely have a wealth of transferable (or essential) skills that potential employers will want to see on your resume.


Tip #2:

Create a ‘Relevant Experience’ section in your resume and blend together work, co-op, internship, school project, and volunteer experiences, and showcase those in-demand transferable skills. For example, are you a former Sports Coach? Showcase your leadership, teamwork and communication skills. Accomplished a tough task with a group? Then you have solid organization, teamwork and determination skills. Summer landscaping job? You likely operated heavy machinery and equipment which is relevant for the fire service.  Volunteered as a medical first responder? This is excellent experience for a future firefighter and shows that you can think on your feet and keep calm under pressure when dealing with a diverse public as well as relevant first aid knowledge. Worked as a roofer during the summer? This shows that you are comfortable working at heights, are likely proficient operating a ladder and have knowledge of health and safety standards. Played on a team? You’ve got teamwork, determination and motivation nailed! Think about jobs and volunteer positions you have held that match some of the sought-after firefighter qualities and showcase these in your ‘Relevant Experience’ section.


Don’t Leave Them Guessing

You’ve got approximately 6 seconds to catch the attention of the reader of your resume. OK, some might say 11 seconds. Regardless, this is not a great deal of time to get noticed. In my own experience reviewing resumes, I can attest to the fact that unless the candidate took the time to update their experience to match the requirements, I would scan and decide very quickly. There are a few great tricks you can employ to ensure your resume moves to the ‘interview’ list following the 6-11 second scan.


Tip #3:

First and foremost, ensure you customize your resume to the job you for which you are applying — every time! Having a standard resume was acceptable decades ago, but in our high-tech day and age, the generic resume for all applications just does not work. You need to review the job ad carefully, highlight the key requirements and then go back to your resume and ensure you integrate the keywords that are most important. Where should you integrate these keywords? The most important area to integrate keywords is the top third of page one of the resume — either in the opening profile or in a bulleted listing of areas of expertise. Customizing this top third of page one is essential to get noticed!


Manage Friend and Family Advice with Caution

Friends and family have the sincerest of intentions. They have watched you grow up into a responsible young adult and want to see you land a great job and get your start in the world of work. Despite these great intentions, you need to manage the influx of resume advice carefully. Ask yourself, how long has it been since Uncle John has looked for a job? Mom does not work in my field, so does her advice make sense for what I’m trying to do? The other consideration is how much recruitment and/or job search experience have they had in their lifetimes? Something to think about. Be selective on the advice you take.


Tip #4:

Find one or two people within your network who will provide high-quality advice. For example, do you know someone who currently works in a Recruitment or Human Resources position? Find a friend who has landed a job recently in the fire service or employ the services of a professional career coach with expert advice.


Zero Tolerance for Mistakes!

Proofread, proofread, proofread! Did I make this point clear? No exceptions, no mistakes. A sloppy resume with poor grammar or spelling errors will get passed over quickly. When I have seen resumes with these issues, my immediate thought has been — “If they are this sloppy on the resume when trying to find a job, what will the quality of their work be like if hired?”


Tip #5:

If grammar and/or spelling are not your forte, then have someone proofread your resume for you. Print your resume and read it out loud to help catch errors. Use spell-check. Another great tip to catch spelling mistakes is to read the words from right to left. Don’t let this easy-to-fix issue be the reason your potential employer never calls!

It’s easy to create a resume that looks like everyone else’s. But to land that interview, you need to go beyond the standard approach. If you do your research, identify your relevant experience, showcase in-demand transferable skills, and use keywords effectively, your resume is bound to WIN!

If you’d like expert help in bringing this all to life, check out the eLoft Careers Resume and Cover Letter Package here

OFAI Stage 3 (Skills Test) – Hose Assembly Evolution

OFAI Stage 3 (Skills Test) – Hose Assembly Evolution

This post is geared towards applicants in Ontario who are currently going through the OFAI process, or plan to in the future.

If you haven’t already read the first post to the OFAI Series, I suggest you go back at some point and read it at some point before going for your testing.

OFAI Stage 3 (Skills Test) – 6 Guidelines To Follow

Also, if you haven’t read the instructions on the OFAI site for this specific evolution then I would suggest you head there now.

OFAI Site – Skills Section

The Hose Assembly evolution during the Stage 3 Skills Testing can be rather tricky for some people to pass. It’s not because candidates lack the skills to catch a hydrant and assemble hose, it’s because they’re failing due to small errors they make. Luckily I’ll be going over the common errors candidates make later in the post.

I’m going to go over 4 key points that will help you pass the test in your FIRST try, so you don’t have to come back and spend more money for a retest.

So let’s start with the first point.



1. Organize Hose/Appliances In Groups


If you read the first OFAI post, you’ll remember that one of the points I made was to take the full allotted time given to you prior to performing the evolution. Candidates are given 5 minutes to review instructions before proceeding, which I suggest taking the full 5 minutes to prep yourself before commencing.

During the 5 minutes, organize all the hoses and appliances together in respect to where you will be connecting them.

Group together the following:


-65 mm gate valve and the 2 lengths of 100 mm hose

-Gated Wye (100 mm to two 65 mm), 2 lengths of 65 mm hose, 65 mm nozzle

-Gated Wye (65 mm to two 38 mm), 1 length of 45 mm hose, 45 mm nozzle


It’s also been brought to my attention that the instructors will now not allow candidates to touch anything prior to start time. If this is the case than I would still highly recommend you take the time at the beginning of your test to organize everything. It doesn’t take long and it will make your life easier, while still shaving off some valuable time.

Now when you go to assemble a section, bring the whole grouping together with you, that way you’re not running back and forth wasting time and gassing yourself.

For example say you complete the 100 mm connections and are about to walk to the end of the 100 mm to attach the gated wye, BRING EVERYTHING WITH YOU. Bring the gated wye, the two lengths of 65 mm hose and the 65 mm nozzle. That way you’re not wasting time running back for each appliance.

Grouping the appliances/hose together like this will save you a great deal of time and will also save you from forgetting something.



2. Draw It Out


One thing that helped me prepare for this evolution was to draw out everything until I was comfortable memorizing the order.

It’ll give you a clear picture of how to lay everything out and makes things much easier to understand.

I actually found an old sketch I drew out while preparing for the testing a while back.

No, a child did not draw this…



3. Don’t Rush Your Connections


Over time the equipment used at OFAI gets banged up and worn out. It can cause some frustration for candidates when things don’t go as smoothly as they imagine.

Where that comes into play with this evolution is the quality of couplings and threading with the hose appliances/hose.

I remember trying to connect the 45 mm hose to the nozzle (near the end of the evolution) and it took me forever to line up the threading and connect it. It’s not a fun feeling being under pressure with the time counting down.

With that being said, it’s important not to rush connections because it’ll only make it tougher for you. Take your time, line it up and turn slowly. This may sound redundant but it’s important.



4. Be Aware Of Common Mistakes.


I thought I would provide you guys a list of common mistakes candidates make, which lead to failures:

-Connecting the 100 mm hose from the hydrant to the wrong connection on the pump panel. Make sure you connect the hydrant 100 mm hose to the connection that is marked “Inlet/Intake”

-Not having the gated wye valve positioned the right way (when the handle is in line with the hose, it means the valve is open and water will flow through hose line)

-Running out of time. Out of all 6 evolutions, I would say the Hose Assembly will take you the most amount of time to complete the task. It’s easy to go passed the 10 minute mark.

-Forgetting to connect the 65 mm Gate Valve on the hydrant.

-Forgetting to turn the hydrant on. It sounds ridiculous but it’s something that’s easily forgotten since everything is simulated.




So there you have it guys!

I hope these 4 points will help you with passing this evolution your first try.

I’ll be eventually covering every evolution involved in the stage 3 testing so be sure to tune in!

Also, I love feedback. Let me know if this helped or if there’s something you feel I should add.



OFAI (Stage 3 Skills Test) – 6 Guidelines To Follow

OFAI (Stage 3 Skills Test) – 6 Guidelines To Follow

Hey guys!
Due to popular demand I’ve decided to start a new blog series dedicated strictly to the OFAI testing in Ontario. I’m super excited to be sharing my knowledge with you guys on how to pass each station in the stage 3 testing!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Ontario Fire Administration Inc. (OFAI) testing, it’s basically become the standard testing in Ontario in order to apply to most departments.

Take a look on their website to gather some more information: OFAI

This first post is going to be more of a general overlook on certain ‘guidelines’ that I followed in order to be successful with passing each station.

Let’s start with the first point.



1. Be Professional.


This one should be an obvious one, but you’d be surprised at how many stories I’ve heard of candidates going through the testing either acting over confident and coming off as D-Bag, or complaining when they get told they’ve failed the station.

If you end up failing a station, PLEASE remain professional and thank the proctor for his/her time and go home hungry for the next opportunity you get. Yes I know it sucks to fail, and you may disagree with how they failed you, but at the end of the day you’re complaining is not going to help you.

In fact if you piss off the proctors enough, you’ll be red flagged for the next time you go through the testing.

With that being said, if you think you have a legitimate case against failing a certain evolution, you can always fill out a grievance form off the OFAI website.



2.Use The Allotted Time Before Beginning Each Station Test.


Before each station, candidates are allotted 5 minutes to review instructions prior to commencing the test.

I always used the 5 minutes to read over the instructions and visualize in my head what I’m going to be doing. Also, this most likely will be the first time you’re seeing the testing ground in front of you. Give yourself some time to scan over the fireground and see what’s in front of you and plan your tasks accordingly.

You can also use this time to simply take a few deep breathes and calm yourself before jumping in.

It may be a little award standing there next to the proctor silently, but at the end of the day passing is the most important thing.



3.Pay Attention To Detail.


Most candidates aren’t failed because they lack the skills required to pass, it’s because they make the smallest error in completing a task. OFAI however, views a lot of small slip ups as critical mistakes, leading to a fail.

For example, during the roof prop station, if candidates handle any of the cut sections of the roof after cutting, they’ll automatically fail. OFAI views handling any pieces of the roof unsafe because in a fire condition the piece of roof is hot.

So although it may be instinct to bend over and push the piece of plywood through the hole with your hand, think before you act.

Paying attention to every little detail while going through each station is crucial.



4. Focus On 1 Section At A Time.


Remembering what you need to do for all 6 station can be overwhelming.

There’s so many little things you need to remember for each skill, but if you focus on one section (3 stations) at a time, it’ll help you concentrate and be less overwhelmed.

You most likely won’t know which station you’re about to do next because there is no particular order. You however will know the certain grouping of stations once you complete the first station.

For example, if your first station is the Medical Scenario, you’ll know the SCBA Proficiency Test and 10 Metre Ladder Climb will be coming next because they’re all within the Section One grouping.

At this point you need to block out the other 3 stations and focus on what you need to do for the upcoming stations.

It worked well for me.



5. Verbalize/Emphasize EVERYTHING.


While performing tasks in each station you need to verbalize and emphasize everything you’re doing.

Doing this will have proctors convinced right off the bat you know what you’re doing. As a result they may not pay as close attention to you versus the other candidate who looks shaky and nervous right off the get go.

You might be saying to yourself “well Tom, the proctors are there to test candidates equally”. Yes, they are, but they’re also only human. If they see someone who is much more confident and knows what they’re doing, subconsciously the proctor won’t be paying as close of attention to that candidate versus the other nervous/quiet one.

Going back to the roof prop as an example, when you start traveling up the roof you should be sounding the roof on both sides of the ladder, ALL the way up, verbalizing “SOUNDING ROOF!”. This reassures the evaluator you know what you’re doing.



6. Find Your Pace.


Each evolution has a time limit of 10 minutes. Some evolutions such as the Medical Skills or the 10 Metre Ladder Climb won’t be an issue for time. But some evolutions will have you tight for time, such as the 7 Metre Ladder Raise or the Fine Motor Skills Hose Assembly.

That’s why it’s important to keep a quick pace in your step when going through the evolutions.

You however don’t want to be going too quick that you forget something. It’s important you find the middle ground (It’s easier said than done, I know!).



So there you have it! I hope these 6 tips will help you when performing the skills through each evolution. Remember to not get discouraged if you end up failing. It’s one of the hardest tests out there and it’s not meant to be easy.

Stay tuned for more posts related to the OFAI testing as I’ll be breaking down each skill station to help prepare you guys to pass!



4 ‘No Brainer’ Certifications/Courses To Obtain

4 ‘No Brainer’ Certifications/Courses To Obtain

When it comes to padding up your resume, it’s always tough deciding which direction to take.
That’s why I’ve created a list of 4 important certifications/courses to obtain after graduating from fire school.

To make things clear, I’m not suggesting these are the BEST courses, nor am I saying they are the ONLY courses to get. I am simply giving you my opinion on what a fire candidate must have on his or her resume when applying to fire departments. The following 4 are what I’ve gathered to be some of the most important courses departments look for when selecting candidates.


1. Higher Level Of Medical Certification


Although most firefighter postings will include a minimum qualification of Standard First Aid/CPR, it’s important you have a higher medical qualification. There’s now departments asking for higher levels of medical training as a minimum qualification and it seems like at some point in the future, it’ll become a standard in firefighting recruitments.

Firefighting is becoming very ‘medical’ oriented and it’s really important candidates can show they have had the training in the past and have a good grasp on the matter.

The Emergency Medical Responder course Red Cross provides is a solid base to have. You can even go a step further and obtain paramedic certifications (this of course is a serious commitment, but would make a candidate stand out from the rest).

Click here for more info on obtaining an EMR certification.


2. One Or More Technical Rescue Certifications (Technician Level)


When it comes to firefighter technical rescue certifications there are many options. From courses like High Angle Rescue, Water/Ice Rescue, Confined Space Rescue, in my opinion they all look very good on a resume. The unfortunate thing is that almost all serious candidates will have at least one of these certifications.

It’s best to pick a course you think you would be interested in, but also try and pick one that is more useful to departments. For example, not all departments perform trench rescue, so try and pick one that’s widely used by most departments. I personally went out and obtained my Auto Electrician cert because ALL fire departments are involved in auto extrication one way or another.

Secondly, make sure to take the course to all the way to technician level. Departments don’t like seeing a candidate who has a bunch of courses at awareness/operations level!


3. Fire and Life Safety Educator (NFPA 1035), and Fire Inspector (NFPA 1031)


Now I know these courses don’t sound all too exciting to take. But the reality is a lot of departments are now hopping on board with ensuring their new hires are certified with these 2 courses after being hired.

I personally have taken both courses and it isn’t a whole lot of fun, but did they ever give me a leg up on other candidates.

Departments will see that you are more of a well rounded candidate, having knowledge in both the fire suppression and fire prevention side of things.


4. Obtain A Unique Certification


Last on the list may be one of the more important out of the 4.

Having something that makes you different than other candidates is crucial. You can be very creative when it comes to obtaining courses that are more unique, and they don’t have to be fire specific.

Here’s a list of some courses that may be of interest to you:

  • American Sign Language Course (ASL)
  • SCUBA cert
  • Coaching Certification
  • Culinary Course (Yes I’m Serious)
  • Boating License
  • Radio Operator Certification (Air or Marine)
  • Airport Firefighter Certifications
  • Pump Ops
  • Red Seal Trade Cert
  • Chainsaw Cert
  • IMS 100/200



As you can see the list can almost be endless when it comes to building up your resume.

The key is to not be overwhelmed when trying to add experience to your resume and to remember that this journey is not a short one, it’s one that can take years to get to get hired.
So it’s important to pick courses you think you would have fun doing!