BY BARRY KIRSCHNER
I grew up in Kempsville and now reside in the Sandbridge section of Virginia Beach with my wife and two boys. I have been volunteering with the city of Virginia Beach since 2007 with both the Virginia Beach Emergency Medical Services Department as a paramedic and most recently with Virginia Beach Police Aviation Unit.
The city of Virginia Beach gives residents many volunteer opportunities.
Volunteers must be able to quickly integrate into a team environment and work just as hard as their paid teammates. However, the rewards are different.
Some teammates are paid via a check at the end of the week, and that’s fine. They have chosen this profession as their career, and the opportunity allows them to provide for their family. They have a career that they earned through hard work and education.
As volunteers, we work just as hard, but we also have to juggle a career with our volunteering. This means additional time away from our families and sometimes missing family and social events. We don’t do this for paychecks or thank yous. Rather, we challenge ourselves to give back to the community in which we live.
As a volunteer flight officer with the aviation unit, I challenge myself to think and work outside my normal comfort zone. I have always loved flying.
I initially entered into a partnership with the unit through a flight paramedic program that was affiliated with Virginia Beach EMS. With the retirement of the flight medic program two years ago, I wanted to continue to build on the fundamentals of aviation that I learned flying as a paramedic.
Eventually, I earned my way into the flight program, and now I’m enjoying learning how to be a helicopter flight officer from, in my opinion, the finest helicopter pilots in Virginia.
Giving back to my hometown in the form of helping with search and rescue and crime prevention is my personal challenge.
The aviation unit has allowed me to take on this challenge. I challenge the citizens of Virginia Beach to find their passion and pursue their dreams – whether it is for pay or as a volunteer.
Kirschner lives in Sandbridge. Among his accomplishments, he was named Public Safety Volunteer of the year in 2016 by the Cape Henry Rotary Club and awarded the Silver Medal of Valor by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce for his role in a rescue in Sandbridge.
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