Healthy CommunitiesYMCA Health and Fitness

YMCA aquatics alumni Jason Byles continues to Shine On

02 May 2023 - by YMCA of Greater Toronto

From the swimming pool to the fire hall, former lifeguard and swimming instructor Jason Byles has always had a passion for helping others. In fact, a lot of what he learned working for the YMCA is still useful in his daily life as a City of Toronto firefighter. Here’s Jason’s Y story:

Q: What does a typical day in the life of a Toronto firefighter look like?

A: A typical shift is 24 hours (7 am–7 am). I arrive at the fire hall by 6:30 am to relieve the previous crew members and get a briefing of anything wrong with the truck or equipment. We check our Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), medical equipment, and the overall tools on the fire truck. Then I have coffee and try to eat breakfast. We may have online training or scheduled in-person training about job-related skills. We remain on standby and are ready for any calls that are dispatched to the fire hall during this time. We normally come together at dinner time and make a crew meal. Sleep is any time after 11 pm. Of course, if a call comes in, we wake up and attend to that emergency.

Q: What made you interested in becoming a firefighter?

A: I wanted to make a difference in my city and answer a calling in my life to help others in need.

Q: The Y knows you as a former lifeguard and aquatics instructor. Can you tell us about your experience in those roles?

A: I had a great experience working as a YMCA lifeguard and swim instructor. It allowed me a flexible schedule to work part-time as I was in school, and to put some extra money in my pocket. I liked the training that helped us maintain our skills and gave us the confidence to be ready for anything. It was fun being a swim instructor for young people. It brought me great pleasure helping students learn how to swim and watching them progress to the next levels.

Q: Are there any skills that you gained at the Y that help you in your day-to-day work as a firefighter?

A: The skills I acquired that have helped me in my role as a firefighter today are the CardioPulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and first aid training that we did as lifeguards. It gave me that added confidence to perform on the many medical calls we are tasked with attending.

Q: Do you have a favourite story or memory from working at the Y?

A: My favourite memories while working at the Y have been making friends with fellow lifeguards. In addition to that, I was so happy when I received positive feedback from the parents who mentioned how much their kids loved my swim lessons. It reaffirmed to me that I was doing a great job. It inspired me to continue my journey of a life of service.

Inspired by Jason’s story and interested in joining the Y family? Apply to work as a lifeguard and swim instructor today.



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