From Mother to Rescuer

July 9, 2013 in Newsletters

Name: Maria Vassallo Micallef
Age: 27
Occupation: Team leader in a pharmaceutical laboratory
Position with the EFRU:  Secretary to the Executive Committee

This month, I had the opportunity to sit down and really get to know Maria – one of the EFRU’s most seasoned members.  Maria first joined the Unit in 2009 and two years ago assumed the role of Secretary to the Executive Committee: a role to which she has taken with natural ease, with her superb organisational skills and competence in performing her tasks.

Outside of the EFRU, Maria is currently employed within a local pharmaceutical company and has recently submitted her Masters dissertation in Environmental Chemistry at the University of Malta.  Despite leading a busy life, nothing can keep her from spending quality time with her husband and their 10 month-old daughter.

Maria’s contribution to the EFRU is three-fold:  she participates in weekly training sessions alongside other EFRU members and may lead a team of volunteers on training exercises and on duties.  She also shares in the administrative duties within the Unit, being the Secretary to the Executive Committee.  Such tasks include (but are definitely not limited to) coordinating members for events, assisting in managing the Unit’s finances, as well as compiling reports and presentations about the EFRU’s activities and achievements.

Whilst waiting for one of the Saturday training sessions to start, Maria and I sat down with a nice cold drink… and I bombarded her with questions.  In between laughs, she managed to answer my queries and provided me with a couple of thought-provoking replies.

Do you have any particular hobbies?

Aside from the EFRU?  Well, there are other things I love to do, but I don’t often have the time to engage in them.  When I do find some free time though, I like to read and possibly go for the occasional SCUBA dive.  However, each week I make it a point to enjoy some relaxing quality time with my family, such as picnics in Winter or BBQs and swimming in Summer.

What does the EFRU mean to you?

The EFRU is a commitment but not in negative way at all. The EFRU offers a number of positive aspects and is not only about rescue. The Unit gives young people many opportunities to learn, interact and develop important teamwork skills at a very crucial point in their lives: when they’re leaving their teenage life and entering the adult world.

Aside from the skills mentioned previously, the EFRU offers an encyclopaedia of first-hand knowledge in Rescue techniques, Fire fighting, First Aid skills and Safety Awareness to members.  All of this from highly dedicated and experienced personnel within the Unit.

What keeps you interested?

First and foremost is the sense of belonging to this group.  One feels a deep sense of familiarity, not only within the management team, but also and more importantly throughout the EFRU team.  The EFRU literally feels like my second home, and here I am not referring to the physical headquarters but to the sincere and sound relationships we have managed to build among our ever-growing team of members.  I am proud to say that I have plenty of brothers and sisters that I care for, and I am fully confident that this spirit is mutual.

How do you manage to fit everything into your busy schedule?

A lecturer once advised that “Work expands to fill the time you have”. This, I have learnt to be so true!  If you put your mind to it, you will manage to do all you want to do.  It became more challenging when I got married, and even more so after I gave birth to my daughter.  However, if you really want something, you’ll manage to structure your life to accommodate everything important to you.  In a committed life, one needs to be flexible and learns how to prioritise on a daily and weekly basis.  Something that keeps me going is that I am not the only one working; we are a team and I am only a small component of this team.   Above all, I have to admit that such a life is challenging. One encounters ups and downs, possibly due to the occasional failure to perform as one would wish, but life is a learning process after all!

As things stand, what words of wisdom would you impart to young adults?

In retrospect, I think that it really is a “must” that a person gets involved in some type of voluntary work.  Investing all your energy in your paid work just doesn’t make sense because, if you do not manage to “regenerate” yourself and free your mind from your day-to-day chores on a regular basis, then the work produced will not be of the highest quality you can give.

I do encourage people to involve themselves in organisations such as ours.  In particular, I see the EFRU as an opportunity for people from all walks of life.  If you want to give yourself a break and make a difference by helping others: through increasing awareness about fire safety, learning rescue techniques and First Aid skills to help when the need arises, then the EFRU is your organisation.

The most important thing is that you are committed.  In return, the EFRU gives you a goal to work for.  The EFRU helps you develop time management skills – so you can do what you love as well as manage other duties and responsibilities.  More importantly, at the EFRU you will be respected, your voice will be heard and you will make a difference!

Sylvana Cremona
EFRU Rescuer