In August of 2006, while at the Fire Academy trying to successfully train and test to become one of the only female fire fighters in Flagstaff, Arizona, Tara Paprocki broke her back. She was in full “turnouts” and air-dragging a rescue dummy when she tripped and fell backwards, landing on her back and airpack with the rescue dummy on top of her.
I was asked to leave the Academy due to the injury, and was told that I could return to the next Academy in February if I was cleared by both my doctor and the city’s doctor. I truly believe that they never thought six months was enough time to be ready, and that there was no chance they would have to let me come back in February.
She had six months to heal and get herself back in shape. Enter Lisa Ray from CrossFit Flagstaff.
At the time I met Lisa and told her what I was up against, she was actually a volunteer at another fire department in town and was working on her fire 1 & 2 certification. She was well aware of the rigors of the job and the kind of shape I needed to be in before I could return to the Fire Academy.
Today, Tara is the only woman working for Summit Fire Department, Flagstaff’s other fire department. She trained even harder and passed a physical and agility test known for its difficulty. The article is her amazing story.