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Sylvan Lake firefighter and paramedic remembered in emotional ceremony

Joey Manson remembered for his dedication, good humour and kindness

Final dispatch calls crackled through speakers for Sylvan Lake firefighter and paramedic Joey Manson in an emotional celebration of his life on Friday.

“Sylvan Lake firefighter-paramedic Joey Manson you are cleared of your duties. May you rest in peace and know you will be forever in our hearts,” said the dispatcher through the speakers at Sylvan Lake Community Centre.

An EMS dispatcher made a similar call, signing Manson out of service “but not out of our hearts and memories,” adding that on behalf of EMS “we will take it from here Jo-Jo.”

Manson, 36, died on Jan. 16. Manson was a paramedic for 16 years and also a volunteer firefighter for Sylvan Lake’s department where his fun-loving personality was legendary.

His only sibling, Dan Manson, said the family, which includes Joey’s wife, Kelsey Manson, was amazed that more than 800 people had shared anecdotes of what Joey had meant to them following his passing.

“We really shouldn’t be surprised. He was so important to so many people. He was undeniably fearless. He was kind. He was funny, for sure.

But mostly he was absolute genuine.”

Dan said Joey was a skilled drummer and guitarist who was in a number of bands and would jam with anyone, while being one of The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie’s most dedicated fans.

“It may sound cliché to say that Joey wore his heart on the outside. But Joey’s kindness and his empathy were always available.

“He always just seemed to know how to make us feel better when he was around.”

His brother will also be remembered for his ability to find humour in almost every situation.

“We’re so proud of all of the things my brother accomplished and all the kindness he shared and the genuine love that he had for everyone.”

A colleague recalled the last day he spent with Manson, who was happily working with a student.

“He was so attentive. He was explaining medication doses. He was explaining our job. He was bringing someone new into our family.”

After Manson died, the station did not feel the same, he said. “It was missing a heart because Joey was the heart of that station.”

The community centre was filled with friends, family and colleagues, many in full-dress uniform, for the celebration of life. Following the ceremony, a procession led by fire trucks and an ambulance draped in black led the way to the Royal Canadian Legion where mourners gathered to share their memories.

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