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Shelter Island EMT of the Year honored at gala dinner

Stacey Clark Kehl was named EMT of the year at the annual Emergency Medical Services awards dinner at The Pridwin on June 13. Flanking Ms. Clark are, left, Squad Chief Kevin Dunning and Director Jack Thilberg.

Stacey Clark Kehl, a woman who was described by a colleague as a person “who brings joy to everything she does,” was named EMT of the Year by Shelter Island Emergency Medical Services (SIEMS).

Ms. Clark Kehl was honored at a gala June 13 cocktail reception and dinner at The Pridwin Hotel.

The event brought together friends, family and Shelter Island town officials to publicly recognize and thank Islanders who interrupt their lives at a moment’s notice to serve those who often are suffering through some of the most serious times of their lives.

Also honored was EMT Phil Power as the Top Responder of the department. Mr. Power answered the call on 65 percent of the 312 emergencies that SIEMS responded to in 2018. Driver of the Year was awarded to Mike Martin, and Marian Brownlie, the guiding spirit of the EMS Advisory Board, and organizer of the annual dinner and awards ceremonies, was also recognized for her tireless work for the volunteers.

Ms. Clark Kehl, 26, was surprised at her selection as EMT of the Year. “Happily surprised,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it.”

A licensed practical nurse, she was inspired to become an EMT because “I love helping people,” she said.

This is especially true in her work in the field of geriatrics at Peconic Landing in Greenport. “You can’t escape being in healthcare and not wanting to help people as much as you can,” she said.

Asked why she decided to join SIEMS, the born- and-raised-Islander said it was an easy decision to make, since she wanted to lend her time and expertise to giving back to a community that has always nurtured her.

Caring for others is not new to Ms. Clark Kehl. She said that even as a girl, “I’ve always been a Mother Goose.”

Asked if there was any call on the Island that she’s responded to that was more rewarding than others, she said no, adding, “They‘re all fulfilling.”

Ms. Clark Kehl did note that there’s a difference between what’s known as a “medical” call and those responding to a traumatic injury.

The former can be truly gratifying, Ms. Clark said, especially when an older person is in distress. “Their state of mind is so vulnerable, and they can trust you and know that you’ll care for them,” she said.

As for trauma victims, the direct care is the most important part of the process, and both the victim and the EMT know that.

She has ambitions to become a registered nurse and possibly work in a pediatric unit of a hospital. “And some day I’d like to train as a paramedic,” she said.

Ms. Clark Kehl and her husband Glenn are dealing with their own pediatric situation, since a new member of the family is expected July 1. The baby will join 3½-year-old Colby, to round out the family.

Asked if Colby was excited, Ms. Clark said, “Very. He’s already in his protector mode.”

Just like his mother.