Firefighter Wellness Testimonial: Stephanie Wowk

You’re going to have to deal with adversity in life, that’s just part of it. The fire department is no different.

I faced it as soon as was sworn in. On October 13, 2015, I officially became a member of the Saint James Volunteer Fire Department and proudly joined Heavy Rescue Co. No. 9. Coming into this, I understood the risks and challenges that every firefighter is faced with, but, I also understood my own.

After completing my Firefighter 1 course in June 2016, I had a misfortunate spill in the truck bay and dislocated my right shoulder. I later learned that I would need surgery to fix the type of dislocation and trauma I experienced. Heartbroken, the first thing that came to my mind was losing any chance of becoming a New York City firefighter…my dream career. But, I hadn’t come this far to let an injury defeat me.

In December 2016, I underwent my operation and now have a beautiful scar to remind me of everything triumphed.

Fast forward five months of physical therapy three days a week as well as going to the gym opposite days, I gained 100 percent of mobility back, strengthened my shoulder and became an overall more fit and healthy version of myself.

The opportunity to go through that experience and still prove myself as mentally and physically strong is a phenomenal feeling. This was an instance that taught me the importance of being resilient. You have to embrace the challenge in which you are faced, be energized by it and not shy away from it. Your attitude on how you meet that challenge is going to determine your outcome.

I’m very fortunate to have the love and support of my parents and the Saint James Fire Department as well as the determination and conviction in myself to cross every line life draws for me in the sand. Less than a year after the injury, I am ecstatic to deliver the good news of my medical clearance to my Chiefs and return to serving my community.

My moral: There are no excuses, only choices.

– Stephanie Wowk, Saint James Volunteer Fire Department

Have you improved your heart health, coped with general wellness issues or beat cancer? Share your story to inspire fellow volunteer first responders!