Welcome to the third installment of the Courier’s shout-out to Easton volunteers. This week we honor EMT Cristina DiPalma, a proud first responder in her own hometown.

Last week we spotlighted Paco Acosta, EMS 2018 Volunteer of the Year, preceded by  Victor Malindretos, president of the EMS Board of Trustees, director of communications and an Emergency Medical Responder.

Cristina DiPalma — Tomas Koeck Photo

“Being a first responder in my hometown is always something that I have taken pride in,” DiPalma said. “There is no greater feeling than my radio going off, turning on my green light in my car, and knowing that I am on the way to help out a neighbor in the town I grew up in.”

However, being a volunteer EMT is only a small aspect of DiPalma’s life. Outside of Easton EMS, she is studying to become a physician assistant (PA). A PA is a medical professional who can see patients, diagnose their condition, order diagnostic testing, and ultimately prescribe medications to help them feel better. 

Physician assistants can work in a variety of different settings, ranging from the operating room to the emergency department, according to DiPalma. Currently, she is in her last year of schooling to become a PA, during which students have the opportunity to work in inpatient and outpatient settings. They are exposed to different specialties to gain hands-on experience. 

“At the moment, I am in my general surgery rotation at a local hospital in Connecticut,” DiPalma said. “I have had the opportunity to scrub in on several surgical procedures and learn from incredibly knowledgeable surgeons, physicians, and PAs. After I graduate, I would love to work as a physician assistant in emergency medicine, surgery, or psychiatry. 

“Outside of school and EMS, I love to hike on local trails in Connecticut and explore what our great state has to offer. I personally believe that there is no better feeling than being surrounded by woods and hearing the crinkling of leaves underneath your feet. When I am not hiking, I spend my free time trying to give back and help other first responders.”

About three-and-a-half years ago, she made an online Facebook page, “Healing our Healers,” which was designed to raise awareness and decrease first responder and military PTSD-related suicide. The page often features helpful resources, quotes, and videos for first responders and military personnel to review. Healing Our Healers has reached individuals from all across the globe, ranging from the United States to overseas.

“The page is now run by me and three other administrators, all current or former first responders,” DiPalma said. “Our motto at Healing Our Healers is ‘nobody fights alone,’ and this is something that we firmly stand by. Our page is open 24/7 with admins standing by to act as an anonymous resource for individuals who need someone to vent to about a work-related event.”

This page is meant to act as one of many resources, and several other emergency hotlines are listed on the page. It is DiPalma’s goal to extend Healing Our Healers into a greater organization after she graduates as a physician assistant in May 2021.

“Ultimately, I am so fortunate to be able to give back to my community in all the ways I can,” DiPalma said. “I feel that we all have our own callings in life, and medicine was most definitely mine.”

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