AEO Building a Better World Volunteer of the Month: Dave, SVP – International Operations, Finance and Planning

AEO associates share our commitment to doing better, being better and building a better world. We’re proud to spotlight our people who are making a real and lasting impact in their communities.

Meet Dave, SVP – International Operations, Finance and Planning and a volunteer EMT with Shaler Hampton EMS. In 2023, he volunteered an impressive 352 hours with the organization! Daves shares his volunteer journey and personal insights on what it means to give back to his local community below.

Tell us about your volunteer service with Shaler Hampton EMS.

In a staff of over 50 paramedics and EMTs, I am one of only five volunteers who provides emergency medical services in the Pittsburgh suburbs of Shaler, Hampton and Etna. As an EMT, I partner with a paramedic, and together, we are the first responders to 911 calls. We provide prehospital treatment to patients who are experiencing medical emergencies, or who have suffered traumatic injuries. In most cases, we also transport the patients to the hospital by ambulance. I typically work one 8 or 16 hour shift every weekend, if my schedule permits. Often, these shifts fall on a midnight – 8:00 a.m. window. It takes a lot of planning to schedule these shifts around my unpredictable work schedule, as I sometimes take weekend shifts at the last minute if I am needed. I like to average 8 hours a week, as a personal commitment. If I have to skip a week, I will do a double shift to make up the time and honor the commitment I made to myself and helping others.

Why is volunteering at Shaler Hampton EMS important to you? 

Since the start of the pandemic, health care providers have worked tirelessly under extremely challenging, unrelenting conditions. In my experience, emergency departments and EMS agencies continue to be overworked and understaffed. I have been a fully trained and licensed first responder for many years, which involves several hundred hours of training to achieve licensure. I feel if I do not put these skills to good use, then they are wasted. My non-volunteer colleagues are grateful for volunteers like me who can augment the staff, pick up shifts when somebody needs time off, or cannot work due to illness. On the personal side, when somebody calls 911 for EMS, usually something really bad has happened. I find it very fulfilling to be able to step out of my normal professional career and apply my skills in a manner that  helps people when they need it most. I can walk into someone’s house and they do not see me as Dave, AEO business executive. They see me as a first responder who will help them through whatever the emergency may be. 

How many years have you been volunteering? 

I started volunteering with Shaler Hampton EMS in August of 2021. Previously, I was a volunteer ski patroller with Vail Resorts for almost 10 years, until the pandemic ended their volunteer program. Over the years, I have held increasing levels of EMS certification including Emergency Medical Responder, Outdoor/Wilderness Emergency Care Technician, and Nationally Registered EMT. I am currently in training to become an Advanced EMT (AEMT), which is closer to paramedic level in terms of scope of practice.

How do you think that being an active participant in your community helps to build a better world?

When I am in my EMT role, people are  surprised when they learn I am a volunteer. It is physically and mentally challenging work, often in high-risk situations. However, I believe it sets an example of how people like me should do more with their lives in addition to being the best employee they can. I am a citizen of my community, and Pittsburgh is home to AEO. I feel obligated to return the favor in some way; volunteering with Shaler Hampton EMS is my way of giving back. 

What are some of the benefits you’ve found in volunteering?

At the top of the list are the people I work with. Instead of having the privilege of only working with my AEO colleagues, I get to work with a second group of exceptional people. In addition, I have found this work helps me sharpen my problem solving, critical thinking, and teamwork skills. We never know exactly what we will be facing on a call until we get on-scene. That requires the ability to make big decisions in the moment and work as a unit with my partner. During critical cases, additional backup will be on scene, but we are the ones in charge. We rely on teamwork and command skills to keep everybody focused on a specific task, operating as a unit and delivering the highest quality patient care possible. This work is profoundly rewarding to me. 

Tell us about the best thing you’ve learned through volunteerism.

I have learned that once you commit to a cause in which you are passionate, it can become addictive. For me volunteering has become a regular, constant undertaking. It’s not a “one and done” activity. I also see volunteerism as being contagious to others. As I talk about what I do with family, friends and colleagues at AEO, it has inspired many of them to do a little bit more to help in their communities.

Through his volunteer efforts, Dave qualified for the AEO Volunteer Recognition program and a donation was made to the Shaler Hampton EMS in his honor. The AEO Volunteer Recognition program honors the service of our associates who spend 25 hours or more a year volunteering with a 501 c-3 charitable nonprofit outside of work by donating $500 on their behalf.