|The Chester County Fire Chiefs Association Gives a Mother’s Day Salute to the Volunteer Moms Who Help Keep Chester County Lives Safe Every Day|
|May 11, 2018|
As we celebrate Mother’s Day this year, the Chester County Fire Chiefs Association gives a special thank you to all moms who volunteer to keep Chester County lives safe and encourages more to do the same by learning about volunteer opportunities at www.helpfightfire.com.
For six women profiled below, and the countless other moms like them, volunteering isn’t just a hobby. It’s a duty; a way to give back to their community. These women save lives in their communities as firefighters, EMTs and administrative volunteers. We honor them by sharing their stories here.
Striking a Balance as a Single Mom
For Amanda Demarco, finding a balance between being a single mom to her 9-year-old son and volunteering at the Goshen Fire Company, as a firefighter and EMT, was tricky to say the least. Growing up around a fire station herself, the 28-year-old knows the firehouse is a family. Her father is chief of East Whiteland Fire Company and the lead Chester County fire academy instructor. “Firefighting is a passion; a brotherhood and sisterhood that is an honor to be a part of.”
Growing up she can remember going to the station with her father, eating pizza and hanging out with the other members of the crew while they talked about firehouse topics.
“I loved and cherish those memories and I wanted to be able to give my son the same memories as I had growing up,” she said. “I balanced being a single parent (up until April 7 when she got married) and the firehouse for a very long time by just having him tag along with me to everything at the firehouse.”
Her son watches her when the crew practices drills. He has his own set of gear to wear, along with a helmet that fits him. While there are times she’s had to pass up going out with the crew after a drill, or decided not to go on a “good” call because she had to take care of her son, she also knows that he’ll always be more important. “I always remind myself that the firehouse will always be there and that my son is growing up and I would never be able to forgive myself if I missed a special moment of my son’s life because I was out on a fire call.”
She’s proud to say that her son has told her he wants to become a firefighter when he’s old enough. Demarco looks forward to the day she’ll be able to place his helmet on him and welcome him to the station for the first time as a member.
“I know that he is proud of his mother and I want him to grow up knowing that giving back to your community and being passionate about something you love to do is key in being a good firefighter,” she said. “I extremely thankful for my fire company also for supporting me being a single parent and being so understanding in certain situations where my son had to tag along. I am thankful for the role models that my son has in his life due to all the guys that I volunteer alongside with at the firehouse.”
Protecting the Community
Many women who volunteer with their local fire company already have a background in emergency response and volunteer to continue helping others. That’s certainly the case for Chrissy Miller, a volunteer with the West Grove Fire Company.
“When I first joined the company in June of 2017; I was looking for a way to give back to my community and surrounding areas,” said Miller. Her whole life has been spent watching friends and family serve others. She grew up around firefighters and first responders. Her own mother was a member of Southern Chester County EMS Medic 94 in the 1980s and worked in the emergency room at Jennersville Hospital. After high school Miller joined the U.S. Navy and served as a hospital corpsman.
After the Navy, she moved from California to West Grove to raise her son, as then a single mom. She didn’t have time to volunteer until her son was grown and went off to college. Looking for a way to fill the void of running her son around, friends and family suggested she volunteer at West Grove.
Given her background, Miller wanted to join the EMS crew because she thought it would be meaningful way to give back. After orientation, she soon learned new skills like how to use rescue tools and how to get water to a fire. She began to build a camaraderie with her fellow volunteers at the station, who soon felt like family. She realized she wanted to help them in any way she could, and decided to enroll in fire school. “As a first responder you have to remember that the people we are helping and caring for are in a vulnerable moment in their lives, whether they are experiencing an emergency, a motor vehicle accident or a fire,” she said. “The other firefighters and EMTs that I ride with do just that; they care.”
Her experience volunteering has already had an impact. Her son was so inspired by his mom’s service that he too has become a volunteer firefighter, which she welcomed. “What better way to raise your son to be a hero!”
Balancing Life and Volunteering
Danielle Moffett works full time. She’s raising a 6-year-old daughter, and is expecting another baby in a few months. Yet she still finds time to volunteer as an EMT and firefighter at Malvern Fire Company. How does she do it? One week at a time.
“I’m primarily working just EMS one day a week for a seven to eight hour shift,” she said. “The firehouse in Malvern has been great about not locking me into a schedule. I volunteer when I can. I work with my work schedule and my daughter’s school schedule.”
Before joining the crew at Malvern, Moffett helped communities across the country. She joined the American Red Cross of Massachusetts in 2010 as a member of its Disaster Action Team. When she moved to Charlotte, N.C. the following year, she transferred to the Charlotte chapter of the Red Cross, where she led the Disaster Action Team for three years. “We responded primarily to fires but any disaster/incident where people were displaced,” she said. “During that time I also became qualified as an EMT.”
She initially saw an advertisement looking for volunteers at Malvern and “thought it would be a great opportunity to expand what I could do and contribute to the community.”
Her husband has been very supportive of her volunteering efforts with the fire station and their daughter has already hinted about following in her mom’s footsteps. She regularly goes to the station with her mom and loves to ask the EMTs questions and play on the fire trucks.
“She’s already made a list of things she wants to be when she grows up: she wants to be an EMT and a dance teacher,” said Moffett. “I made the list!”
Lending a Helping Hand
Volunteering at a fire company doesn’t have to mean becoming a first responder. There are plenty of other ways to serve. For example, for the last year Annemarie Patton has served as the Malvern Fire Company department photographer and company secretary.
“My opportunity to volunteer at the Malvern Fire Company came about when my son joined the company to become a firefighter,” she said. “I never knew how much time and effort the volunteers put into training, education, running calls and running the fire company. So when my son asked me to join as their photographer, I was thrilled that there was a way for me to help.”
Patton’s roles have allowed her to see the business side of running a fire company, while also taking pictures at a fire scene. Plus she’s delighted to get to spend more time with her son at the station and on calls.
“The members of the Malvern Fire Company are a wonderful group of dedicated and hardworking individuals, who welcomed me warmly,” she said, “and I am proud to be a part of this organization.”
Two of a Kind
They say team work makes the dream work. Best friends for 10 years and volunteer EMTs for Ludwigs Corner Fire Company, in Glenmoore, Pa., Kristina Casey and Adrienne Patrick are here to prove it. These two ladies, who call themselves “Thelma and Louise,” push each other to help save lives together with an unshakeable sense of humor. And they’ve already begun inspiring their children to do the same.
Casey is a mom of four children ranging in age from 12 to 16. She and her husband, Scott, have been married for over 20 years. After graduating from Lehigh University in 1992, she took a corporate job until after the birth of their first child. Then she became a stay-at-home mom and now works as a substitute teacher.
Patrick has been married for 31 years to her husband, Jeff. She is a mother of four kids ranging in age from 14 to 28. She graduated from Penn State University and currently works as a licensed private investigator.
The duo began volunteering together when Patrick’s husband and son, who are both volunteer EMTs, would run to a call at the drop of a hat. Patrick wanted to help too but she needed to join the firehouse and pass the necessary first aid courses first. She knew she could do it if Casey was by her side. The two have known each other for nearly 10 years through their children’s school functions and have remained very close.
“I took the courses and it was fun because I went through the training with my BFF Kristina Casey,” she said. Convincing her friend to train with her, though, took some effort initially.
“I don’t like blood or graphically gory things, so when Adrienne suggested taking a free CPR course a few years ago, I cringed,” said Casey. “She promised it was just CPR, so I went, we got certified and we had a great time. I didn’t think it was possible to laugh so much at a medical course.”
Today Casey and Patrick help teach future EMTs and consider themselves “a package deal” when it comes to responding to emergency calls. Having a friend there with you can make volunteering fun and allows you to have someone you can lean on when times get tough.
“We understand that 911 calls can be scary and anxiety-ridden, but we became great at assessing the situation and incorporating the right amount of humor and/or compassion to put the patients at ease,” said Casey.
Their families have taken notice of their willingness to help others and that drive has begun to rub off. As the two were studying for the EMT exam, Casey’s 16-year-old daughter Emelie helped quiz them and soon became interested in the work as well. She too became a member of the fire company and passed her CPR and first aid courses, and has plans to become a first responder as well.
“She can go on runs with me this summer, and I look forward to sharing this experience with her, much like Adrienne does with her family,” said Casey. “I’m so proud that I’m setting such a positive example for my children by volunteering. Each one has said that they can’t wait to become members at Ludwigs Corner Fire Company and help out our town. I’m always proud of my kids, but those words just make me burst with happiness.”
Advice for New Volunteers
Moms are great at doling out advice and the women profiled in this story are no exception. Here are their recommendations for new firefighters:
* Volunteer as much as you’re able. You’re serving your community and it’s great to see former patients doing well out in the community. Plus it can be a lot of fun.
* Find a buddy, there’s always someone to lean on when times get tough.
* There are plenty of ways to help as a volunteer, whether you have a lot of free time or just a little.
* Ask questions, especially if you’re brand new to volunteering. There are plenty of people who are willing to help you.
* Be strong- both physically and emotionally. You are helping people during a vulnerable moment in their lives. Be there to comfort them.
* Work hard and accept you may fail at something. Don’t expect special treatment. Trust your crew and never leave a man behind.
The Chester County Fire Chiefs Association encourages anyone interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter, EMT or administrative volunteer to visit www.HelpFightFire.com. Volunteer today, Chester County lives depend on it.
|Hyperlinks:||Help Fight Fire