CROTON-On-HUDSON, N.Y. -- Croton-on-Hudson firefighter Dave Kempter sums up his on-the-job motivation with two simple ideals: "try to make a difference" and "everyone goes home."
With all the "bad" things that Kempter and his co-workers have seen happen to good people, it seemed right to document first-person accounts -- with a Facebook page called Kempter's Fire Wire -- as a way of letting us know what we should be doing to avoid the emergencies that can cost previous lives.
"The satisfaction of knowing that I made a difference is all that keeps me going, training and Learning never stops," Kempter said. "Every time we respond to an emergency the saying "everyone goes home" is in the back of my head, not only for my brother firefighters but for the people we protect. There is nothing better in this world than being able to help and serve the community in such a valuable way as being in the emergency services business."
Vincent Nienstedt, a volunteer emergency medical technician in Mamaroneck and firefighter in Larchmont, said the photos posted on the Kempter's Fire Wire often tell the stories he and his mates don't cherish taking about.
"There have been so many emergencies over the years that really stick with you or that you keep in the back of your mind," Nienstedt said. "It's crazy to think over the 11 years I've been in the service, all the people I have helped and all the people in whose lives I have made a difference. I am honestly not much of a storyteller when it comes to emergencies I've dealt with. I tend to keep a lot of that information to myself."
According to Kempster, who works alongside his brother Joe, the fire department's most frequent calls are related to motor vehicle accidents, gas emergencies and house alarms.
"Our fire prevention speaks for itself as we don't get many house fires in Croton," Kempter said. "Our education towards the public is always positive and it shows. We are all highly trained in many types of emergencies but thankfully we don't have to execute some of that training all the time."
Eli Russ of Larchmont, who is an EMT in New York and and in Pennsylvania on the campus of Muhlenberg College where he is a freshman, said civilians can help assist first responders in emergencies.
"I come upon a lot of medical incidents that are not life-threatening emergencies but are concerns that do require professional medical care," Russ said. "If people are trained in first aid and it is safe for them to do so, they should render care to the injured. They should also make sure they will be out of the way of the emergency personnel working."
Nienstedt said first responders can expect good and bad days -- with lives being saved and lost.
"I have been lucky enough to have save people, and make a difference in someone's life," he said. "From something as extraordinary as bringing someone back from the dead, to something as simple as holding an elderly person's hand because they are scared. It the same feeling of accomplishment. It takes a strong person to do the jobs we do, and we are proud to do it."
Kempter said he and his Fire Wire co-workers who are with fire and EMS companies in Somers, Verplank and Larchmont as well, want people to be prepared for emergencies but more prepared to prevent them.
"The best advice I think most people would give civilians when they are confronted with an emergency is to always make sure you don't become a victim -- don't do anything out of the scope of your training," Kempter said. "Seek professional help by calling 911, and do your best to contain or mitigate the situation until help arrives."
The Kempter's Fire Wire is not an official Facebook page of any fire or emergency service department and the expressions of the Fire Wire contributors are their own.