Interview with Deborah Cefai

October 3, 2014 in Member Interviews

NAME: Deborah CefaiDebbie
AGE: 31
OCCUPATION: Senior QC Analyst (Pharmaceutical Industry)
POSITION WITHIN THE EFRU:  First Aid Coordinator, Editor of the EFRU newsletter

Now this is what I call efficiency! My article is being reviewed and edited as I write it … well that’s because the interviewee happens to be the editor of our quarterly newsletter. Yes, Debbie (as she prefers to be called) does most of the background work that goes into producing interesting EFRU newsletters, from setting the contents, coordinating the writing tasks, ensuring deadlines are met and also quality checking and editing the articles.

Debbie joined the EFRU in September 2010 (Happy Anniversary! Now where’s the cake, seriously?!) after having been introduced by a friend. She claims to have been immediately hooked:

“The EFRU incorporated all of the activities that I was previously interested in, such as abseiling and knot work, along with so many more new and exciting activities.  Couple that with helping others and it’s the perfect combination.”

Since joining the EFRU, Debbie has been among the most dedicated members, always trying to motivate others (as I can vouch for myself) and also aiming to excel at whatever she does. That is what led the committee to assign to her the task of coordinating the delivery of first aid courses. This involves managing a team of first aid instructors to make sure the course contents are kept up to date and that the course delivery is tailored for the attendees… and this apart from being an instructor herself. Over and above the roles of First Aid Coordinator and Newsletter Editor, Debbie is a qualified rescuer, participating in practically all rescue disciplines, be it rope access, search and rescue, K9, firefighting and rescue diving. Her preferred, though, is Confined Space Rescue…

“… because of the inherent challenges that are faced, such as limited space to work in and the need to really be creative in the extraction of a casualty from such conditions.”

But the EFRU is not only about dire situations involving casualties waiting to be rescued. EFRU is also about having fun practising adventurous sports such as abseiling. In fact, asked about the most memorable moments with EFRU, Debbie recounts without hesitation her very first abseiling training session. I can still see her “dancing” happily on the cliff face with an amazing view in the background.

As with all the other members of EFRU, Debbie has a professional career outside of EFRU – she graduated in Biology and Chemistry, and is currently supervising a laboratory in a pharmaceutical company, testing medicines before being released onto the market. Quite a responsibility, I think… so I ask how does she manage? Being the humble person she is, Debbie credits her “fantastic team”. Teamwork is clearly a common subject between her work and the EFRU. She also points out how the EFRU has helped her grow as a person, which in turn helps her in her private and professional life. Likewise, she brings back to the EFRU the skills that she learns at work.

“In both areas of my life, there are certain key members who, directly or indirectly, have given me the encouragement and tools needed to continue developing and improving.”

Debbie admits, though, that there is no magical formula to finding the perfect balance between private life, work and the EFRU. She defines this as a work in progress, always learning how to prioritise all the tasks. Again she highlights the importance of having supportive people by her side and to work alongside others rather than try to manage everything alone. It is also important to have hobbies or pastimes to break the everyday routine and wind down. EFRU activities are among some of Debbie’s favourite pastimes, along with cycling, reading and the occasional dive.

Closing off this interview, Debbie has the following advice to pass on to current EFRU members and potential new recruits:

“Try something new, especially if it scares you.  The bigger the challenge, the more you’ll enjoy completing/conquering it.  Help out whenever you can – even the smallest action can make a big difference in someone’s life.”


Joseph Bonnici
EFRU Rescue Volunteer