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Rising Stars: Meet Tia Urella

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tia Urella.

Hi Tia, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I knew with clarity and certainty that I was going to be a Firefighter/Paramedic by 11 am on the morning of September 11th, 2001. I was a political science major in my second year of college at The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, when I sat transfixed to the television screen, as so many of us did, on that devastating and fateful morning. There is a very specific and particular piece of imagery that was forever burned into my brain. It’s a low-angle shot. The firefighters are looking upward towards the smoking towers as they bravely proceed into what will soon become utter hell and chaos for them. They follow one another, as brothers so often do, without hesitation or fear.

By noon that day, I knew deep in my soul that firefighting and helping others in their greatest time of need was my true calling. I was a very small female, fairly unusual for the early 2000s, and I had no idea how to get started. I began volunteering as a firefighter for a small town called Lauderdale By The Sea, which is located just north of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There I gained experience and education, graduating from EMT school and then Paramedic school. I was the first female class leader at The Broward Fire Academy. I was hired in 2010 by The Broward Sheriff’s Office. Again, I was nominated by my peers and instructors to be the class leader, a highly respected position. I worked on the helicopter as a flight medic for several years. Today, after 11 years on the job, I am a Driver/Engineer for The Broward Sheriff’s Office. I also hold a master’s degree from Nova University in Disaster and Emergency Management.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I think that it is never an easy road being a female in the fire service industry. While it has gotten easier over the years, it is still not entirely smooth today. I am also a member of the LGBTQ community which can occasionally serve as another divider between myself and my colleagues.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a Firefighter/Paramedic for The Broward Sheriff’s Office. I was the class leader for my class once officially hired as well as my academy class. I am an EMT/Paramedic. I am a driver/engineer hoping to be promoted to the position of Lieutenant in the next year. I hold a BA in political science as well as a master’s degree in Disaster and Emergency Management. I am a licensed realtor. I think what sets me apart from my others is my never-quit attitude. I am certainly not the biggest, fastest, strongest, or smartest person but I can promise you that I will never quit and I will never let those around me quit once a task has been determined.

How do you think about happiness?
Today, what makes me happiest is spending time with my family in New England, in particular my two nieces and two nephews. Growing up, my family was fragmented, spread across multiple states, and we didn’t always see eye to eye on particular issues. My parents divorced when I was 3, both parents remarried, which introduced multiple stepbrothers. Today, we are an extremely tight-knit and cohesive bunch sharing nuanced humor and ideas. I love physical activity as well as making pottery at my local pottery studio. I recently obtained my realtors license and I am thoroughly enjoying the business. I love to travel. In 2019, I lived in Cambodia for four months and stayed at a school (Kulen Outreach) in the city of Siem Reap. I taught English to the students. We connected on a very deep level.

Contact Info:

  • Email: Tiaurella@hotmail.com
  • Instagram: Tiafireyogi

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