Crossfield Fire Captain Joe Holstein has been awarded the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal for his nearly four decades of providing extraordinary public service to the community.
Holstein, who has been a member of Crossfield’s fire department for 39 years, said he was greatly honoured to receive the accolade.
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” he told the Rocky View Weekly. “Nobody goes into this looking for recognition, but to get an award like this Queen’s Jubilee Medal just means the world to me. I am very grateful to have been put in as a recipient.”
A nearly life-long member of the local department, Holstein first joined the Crossfield Fire Department when he was just 15 years old.
“My brother was a captain, and they were short-handed,” Holstein recalled. “So, the Chief come up to me and said, “Hey, we sure could use you.’ So that was what brought me to it.”
Holstein, who also once served as Crossfield’s Fire Chief before stepping back to take on the captain’s role, admitted nearly four decades of demanding public service, in at times tragic situations, has taken an emotional toll.
Holstein has been diagnosed with PTSD, but has turned his personal mental battle outward to help others in Crossfield by becoming a vocal advocate for mental health and self-care in the community. He has made a particular effort to reach out to other front-line responders in the region to let them know they are not alone in their mental struggles.
“I lived through it and coming up as a young guy, I wish somebody would have told me about it,” he said. “But I want them to understand that, unfortunately, you are seeing the worst of the worst, and it does affect you … I am a large proponent of telling guys here’s the warning signs, and here’s how you deal with it. Don’t be afraid to get help and reach out for help.”
Holstein has also dedicated himself to doing positive works in the community as a means to offset tragedy with brightness. Holstein sits on the Crossfield Fire Department’s charity board, and is instrumental in helping to organize events like the department’s annual Santa’s Candy Run, the Christmas food hamper program, and various other charitable works in the town.
“You got to take the good with the bad,” Holstein acknowledged. “A lot of that good has been the Santa’s Candy Cane runs, helping out with food hampers. There’s nothing more rewarding than when you are dropping off a Christmas hamper to a very receptive family. It just warms my heart, you know? Stuff like that, I enjoy.”
Holstein credits the support of his wife and family, the teamwork among his fellow fire firefighters, and the reward of helping others in need as the main reasons he has stayed in firefighting all these years.
“It all boils down to a love of the community and the camaraderie at the fire hall,” he summarized. “There’s no better feeling in the world.”