Mykael Ann Howe’s passion for serving others has fueled a continual pursuit to find as many ways to be of service to those in the community as possible.
“As I dove into my career in public service, I realized how many different areas you can have your hand in, so I’ve tried to get different certifications that allow me to be more effective in every situation I encounter,” said Howe, who has been with the Independence Fire Department (IFD) for 16 years.
Howe grew up in Seattle, Washington, where she attended the fire academy and earned her certifications. She moved to Kansas City in 2004 after family members moved to the area. It didn’t take long for KC to feel like home. “When I first moved here, I didn’t have the intention of staying,” said Howe. “I ended up getting a full-time job as a firefighter/paramedic and fell in love with the city and the people, and I’m still here.”
Howe spent her first five years at IFD as a firefighter, then was promoted to Fire Equipment Operator (fire engine driver) for the next five years. She is now a captain at Station 5, which is also the department’s Hazardous Materials Response Team (HAZMAT). She oversees a crew of four responders, a responsibility she has held for the past six years.
Howe recently completed training to become an out-of-position Battalion Chief, allowing her to fill in as the shift commander when the Chief is not on duty. She has also been trained as a Technical Medic to help support the police department and obtained her Critical Care Paramedic certification, which allows her to work with critical patients.
The ability to shift gears quickly is crucial with all of the different responsibilities each day can bring. It’s not uncommon for Howe to take medical calls, HAZMAT calls, service calls and calls for fires within one 24-hour shift. “Right now, it comes naturally to me,” Howe said. “Obviously when I started, there was a learning curve, but what I love about the job is that you can go from helping out an elderly lady who fell, to putting out a house fire, to delivering a baby.”
Howe’s line of work can be just as mentally taxing as it is physically. While she was training to become the out-of-position Battalion Chief, a firefighter fell through the floor and called mayday on the very first fire in which she was leading the crew. “It just made me realize that we are all human and we can become the emergency too,” Howe said. “Keeping our personnel safe so everyone can go home to their families is of the utmost priority.”
She was introduced to The Battle Within by her husband John, a retired Independence Police Sergeant who had become a mentor in the program. The Battle Within is a non-profit organization that provides a week-long program to help first responders and veterans address their mental health so they can continue to help others effectively. “Just with what we see on a day-to-day basis, sometimes all of that negativity can build, and you don’t see the world as a happy or productive place anymore,” Howe said. “The Battle Within helps you process everything in a healthy way and be available to help other people.”
For Howe, a mother of a 10-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl, giving back to the community extends beyond her career. Every year she volunteers at the MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) Boot Block, which is an event that helps raise money for the MDA Heart of America Chapter. The Howe family also has a tradition of volunteering for the Salvation Army and ringing the bell to help take donations for the organization each year at Christmas time. Howe greatly enjoys volunteering because she can interact with the public when it’s not an emergency.
Howe would like to encourage first responders and veterans to consider participating in The Battle Within. To learn more about the organization and apply for the program, please visit https://thebattlewithin.org
For her dedicated service to the Kansas City community in so many different ways, Howe is being honored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and the Kansas City Royals as a “Blue KC Hometown Hero”. She was recognized at the Royals game on Friday, April 15.