Kacey Simmons, Paramedic and Matt Scribner, EMT not only serve as first responders at NDP EMS, but as compassionate, dedicated first responders (aka parents!) to their two children (Jenna, 21 and Addie, 11). This wonderful couple, who both lead with kindness, seem to balance it all so effortlessly. We wanted to learn more about how they stay so connected to their work, their home life, and one another. Here’s more:
How did you two meet?
Kacey: We actually met at NDP EMS! We had been acquainted for some time, and then we worked one shift together about 13 years ago, and that was it!
Matt: We had developed a friendship over the years before that, but during the course of that one shift we ended up talking for probably about 4 hours. Shortly after that we had an official date and the rest is history. Looking back, it really was love at first sight.
Kacey: We really respect one another, and I think that a lot of it comes from the fact that we have chosen the same field of work and really understand the challenges that we both encounter. We both really “get it” and that goes a long way.
What inspired each of you to pursue careers in this field?
Kacey: I just fell into it, actually, when I was 19 and a young mom. I started as an ambulette attendant, and NDP paid for my EMT class while I worked. The irony is that I had never seen the inside of an ambulance before; but I just fell in love with the whole experience. The people, the idea of helping others, the atmosphere. I was sold pretty quickly on this career path. It was also 2002, and although I may not have thought about the connection at that time, I do think that 9/11 made everyone want to do more for others. Every anniversary of September 11th is a reminder that I started in that post 9/11 era in history, and it is interesting that the start of my career aligned with that period of time.
Matt: For me, the path began when I started volunteering at the fire department. And my brother influenced me as well - he had become a Paramedic and when he started working in the field, I would visit him at his workplace at night to hang out with him a bit. It helped me understand these lines of work, and when I got the opportunity to enroll in an EMT class about 20 years ago, I decided to go for it. I had made some friends already and quickly decided that there was no better place to be than NDP EMS. Two decades later, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. And to Kacey’s point about 9/11, I think if you look at our age group (40-somethings!), those world events definitely instilled a desire in all of us to want to help people and make a difference. Having a real sense of purpose is a big part of this field and it means a lot to experience that every day.
In what ways has your training impacted your parenting (your ultimate first responder role!):
Matt: Our work certainly makes for very interesting dinner conversations!
Kacey: Yes! And I think that we have a unique perspective on life itself. It changes who you are as a person and as a parent specifically. I think we live life very fully because of our jobs - we embrace every day for what it is and teach our kids the same. We know how quickly things can change and so we appreciate the simple things more.
How has the career been from a work/life balance standpoint?
Kacey: It can certainly be challenging given the long hours, but we have flexibility and work for a company that really supports our need for family time.
Matt: In our 20 years working for the same company, that first night shift was actually the only one we ever worked together. And we feel our lives are better because of our work, and our marriage is also better. We talk about work, but we don’t discuss specific decisions we made when we were out on calls. Even if we are on a scene together, we are there as separate units - and I think it’s been important for us to have that balance too at work, because it gives us a chance to just be a family at home too (while still understanding what each of us might be going through on a given day at work).
What lessons have you learned from work that have been applied to your family life?
Matt: Don’t take life for granted!
Kacey: Yes. That’s probably the one thing that we have really tried to instill in our kids - go for it today because tomorrow isn’t promised - live your life, enjoy, and laugh - and of course, wear your seatbelts, don’t go over the speed limit, etc., because we see first-hand what happens when people are reckless.
Matt: I also want to point out that in our work we deal with all kinds of family dynamics and alot of chaos that we see in some homes - so we have learned to be extra-grateful for the closeness of our family. In fact, Kacey’s mom even lives with us and has jumped in anytime we have needed help with our kids. We have a lot to be grateful for, and we don’t forget that on any given day.
What advice would you offer to working parents who are exploring the possibility of becoming first responders?
Matt: It’s a very rewarding career, and it is important to work for a company like NDP EMS to get through the ups and downs of work and of life. We have an extended family at NDP - not just at work, but even in everyone’s free time. If any one of us needs help with anything, everyone is willing to drop what they are doing to help that person out.
Kacey: Having a company who really cares about you is key. NDP EMS is really special in that sense, and I think that for anyone going into this field, a work environment like this where everyone is connected really makes it special.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Matt: We like to work on making our house a home - time with the kids, gardening, yardwork - and what we’re doing right now - just having a cup of coffee together.
Kacey: And just talking to each other in our free time about whatever we are experiencing. In fact anytime I go through a tough call or day, as soon as I connect with Matt I feel 100% better.
Can you comment on what you’re most grateful for when it comes to being part of the NDP EMS family?
Kacey: Just that…being part of NDP EMS family; that’s exactly it! Our kids know the people we work with and I could say Addie has a cold and the next day everyone checks in - it sounds corny but it really is an extended family.
Matt: The biggest part for me and is still true to this day….and I’ve worked in other fields prior to working in EMS…but I’m still excited to get up and go to work. NDP makes it even more exciting because of that family atmosphere. I have worked alongside the same partner for the past 15 years and we’ve basically become like brothers. There are always those tough days, but when I wake up and put my uniform on, I realize that I genuinely love going to work. The company, the people - it’s a great atmosphere. You go in and everyone is having coffee and chatting. And then you get to go out and help others. And if there are any concerns or challenges, our leadership team and upper management are always there for us and available. I love working at NDP EMS. It’s a great place to be and I can’t imagine working anywhere else.