Kimberly Raffaele, EMT and Communications Supervisor, was practically destined for a career at NDP EMS. A graduate of Roy C. Ketcham High School (‘98), Kim grew up watching her dad and grandfather make positive contributions to her hometown of Wappingers Falls - and what’s more is that she is naturally empathetic, warm, and just a delight to be around. We sat down with Kim recently to learn more about her journey:
Kim, what inspired you to pursue a career in this field?
Definitely my family. Growing up I always admired my father, now a 50-year member of the fire department; he and my grandfather were both involved in fire service, as were other members of the family. I constantly followed Dad around to see what he was doing; there was so much excitement and adrenaline that came with it all! Living in a small town made it easy to find out what was happening and to hop on my bike to head to scenes he had been called to with the department (even when I was told not to go!) I went to many fires and accidents, and as I got older, I knew I also wanted to be helpful to people in the community, so becoming an EMT made sense. When the 9/11 tragedy happened, I was 21 years old and had been volunteering with the Pleasant Valley Fire Department. I had started an EMT program, and 9/11 solidified for me and so many others a real “call to duty”. Although from a very young age I had always wanted to be a helper and make a difference for people, at that time it became more clear than ever before that this was exactly what I needed to do.
What was your training like?
I completed my EMT training through Dutchess Community College, and it was great to see the field from that vantage point; I had a good understanding of the fire department side of things, but the EMS side was new to me. From the time I started the program, I just loved it and was confident that I would enjoy a lifelong career as an EMT. I love being on the ambulance, and there’s nothing more rewarding than helping people at their time of need.
Can you tell us about one of your most rewarding moments?
Yes! In 2018, we were called to a home where a woman was in labor. When we arrived, my then-partner checked her quickly and turned to me to say, “you’re delivering this baby here!” I had always wanted to deliver a baby. I ran out and grabbed the pediatric bag and OB kit, and 10 minutes later, I got to deliver her healthy baby girl! That’s one of my happiest thoughts to this day, remembering what it was like to help this woman and to hold her brand new baby in my hands. It was emotional and beautiful, and I think about that sometimes when we have very sad moments that we witness - it is a happy place I can return to anytime I need it.
What a remarkable experience that must have been for you, Kim. Given the wide range of situations you are in, what qualities do you think are most important for someone in your field to have?
Compassion, first and foremost. You have to really want to care for people and do so without making any judgements about them. You are with people on some very tough days, and you don’t know what you might walk into. It is critical that you are truly there for them, and do not pass any kind of judgment on their lives or on choices they have made that may have gotten them into a bad situation. Compassion means really recognizing that we are all here to take care of one another, regardless of anything else.
What do you most love about your work at NDP EMS?
I have shifted over to a dispatch role (our team handles calls for 8 different stations) and I really enjoy being one of the voices in the group that kind of controls the chaos! It’s nice for us to be a constant for our crews and I also enjoy training new employees. I genuinely love being here at NDP EMS every day; I have a great partner and everyone on the team checks in on each other and cares about one another. It’s truly a big family here, and I feel so lucky to work in this kind of environment.
Can you comment on what it was like to work as a first responder through a global pandemic?
It was an eye-opener for everyone. There was of course some fear to work through because nobody knew what to expect and so much was out of our control - but I think as a group, we were very adaptable and resilient. We did what we had to do, followed protocols, and tried to take care of each other too as we always do. Again, it’s like a family here - and no matter what the challenges are, we are always in it together, which is comforting.
What life lessons have you learned from your professional role?
I’ve learned so much - but especially how important it is to always listen, stay calm, and be a steady voice. Everyone has something to say, and we all need to be open-minded to the ideas and feelings and advice of the people around us.
What do you do to relax and rejuvenate?
I love spending time with my 16-year-old son, who is a student and trumpet player at Arlington High School. Between marching band, jazz band, and concert band, there is always an event to attend where I get to watch him perform! We also like going to New York Rangers games when we can. In addition, I love camping in the summertime, going to wineries like Millbrook Winery, hanging around with my parents, son, and friends - or reading. And, if I’m stressed, cooking and baking help me decompress!
What makes you most proud of being part of the team at NDP EMS?
I’ve said it a million times over, and I’ll keep saying it because it’s everything: being a big family! From the minute I walked through the door 6 years ago I felt welcomed - and they have done a lot for me, especially our leadership, like Ed (Murray), Mark (Browne), and Sandi (Christensen). If you have a problem, you can go and talk to them - they are always there for you; they have done SO much for me. Not many people can say that about their workplace. It really feels like home.
Learn more about becoming part of the NDP EMS team at ndpems.com/careers.