Alumni Profiles Articles

Alumni Profiles: Chris Thiessen (CMU ’05)

Being a firefighter or a paramedic is difficult work – and it is work that everybody appreciates. Everyday, people in our communities are being helped by others who have this type of specialized training. But what is it that drives firefighers and paramedicas to seek out such tough careers? What drives them to go to work every day, when each time brings with it the real possibility of difficult circumstances and risking one’s own life helping others?

For firefighter Chris Thiessen, who graduated from CMU in 2005 with a three-year Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in History, what inspired him to fight fires and help people as a job was his time at CMU and his practicum at Grace Hospital in Winnipeg.

At Grace Hospital, Thiessen worked in the Emergency Room helping out in any way he could.

Though his degree doesn’t exactly fit in with his career, Thiessen said it was the community at CMU that shaped his worldview and his practicum that allowed him to take the step into his career.

“Being at CMU was a very formative time in my life,” Thiessen said.

Because he has a passion for helping people, being at CMU was a perfect place for Thiessen. “It’s a culture of people who are always doing something for others. The people at CMU are very involved and informed. They want to be active and make a difference. They are very motivated. That inspired me to be active and to make a difference,” he said.

Thiessen now works as a firefighter in Abbotsford, BC. But he has had to use his life-saving skills off the clock as well.

While on a hunting trip with his father last year, Ken, Thiessen’s quad broke down on a trail. At that moment, a man came running down the trail and begged for assistance.

The man’s friend’s had gotten into a quadding accident and had fallen off a cliff onto an embankment, leaving him badly wounded and in a serious condition.

Thiessen sent the person asking for assistance back to the camp, where there was cell reception, to call 911.
Thiessen then ran to the embankment with his first-aid kit and bandaged the injured man, stopping the bleeding. He then waited by the man’s side for more than two hours for the helicopter to arrive and take the injured man to a local hospital. The man survived.

“It was one of those situations where everything had to work out just right. It was God working in mysterious ways,” Thiessen said.

Looking back, seven years after completing his degree at CMU, Thiessen feels thankful that the career choices he made and the experience and skills that he gained let him help someone in difficult circumstances.

Text by Rachel Bergen