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Art Finds a Home at RFD
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By RFD Watchdesk
June 15, 2022

The O'Leary family is no stranger to Emergency Services. Hannah O'Leary joined Royersford Fire Department and Friendship Ambulance after obtaining for EMT certification in 2020 as a member of our EMS Division team. Her family's roots in the Emergency Services dates back to 1975 when her father joined the Berwyn Fire Company rising to the rank of Assistant Chief. In 2019 the O'Leary Family joined the Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Company where Hannah, her father, mother, & brother all volunteer in the company and Ladies Auxiliary. When speaking about her family Hannah reflected "My dad always told my brother and I stories when we were little about things he did as a first responder. He did so many extremely brave things and I hoped that one day I could be like that. Although the whole "hero" thing can get pretty weird, untrue, and unnecessary, my dad is absolutely a hero (although he'll never believe it), and one day I hope that I can be half the first responder that he is." This inspiration has truly made an impact on Hannah as she continues the Call to Action with RFD, Valley Forge, along with Good Fellowship Ambulance and Fame Fire Company, both in West Chester.

Hannah's explained her motivation to help others is "taking care of people, which I never realized before. I think as a person who struggles so much with anxiety, I have a lot of empathy for the people I care for, because I know what it's like to be in a stressful situation and need help, and I know how much it means to me when I'm treated with compassion and respect in those difficult times. I want to give that to people who might really need it." She adds "I also think I like the challenge of this job. It's extremely stressful most of the time, and very physically and mentally demanding at times, but I have now done things that I never thought I was capable of, and I continue to surprise myself."

With so much deserved focus on mental health and emotional wellbeing, outlets to relieve the stresses of first responders has become a prevalent topic. One of the outlets Hannah has harnessed is her infinity of creating art. Some of the art focuses on Emergency Services while other highlights other aspects of her life and experiences. "I've always been artistically inclined. That's not to say that I've always been good at it, but I've always leaned toward doing artistic things." The art she creates is not just a hobby or a way to decompress but a career path as she's a studio art major with an art history minor at West Chester University graduating this December. Hannah makes the connection between her roles in Emergency Services and the art she creates explaining "art is sort of the opposite for me from emergency services, I like having that dichotomy in my life. I think I would get bored if I didn't. Art is also an outlet for me, it's something I can use to process things I've seen that most people will hopefully not have to see, and it's also an outlet for a lot of stress. Now that I've turned to doing a lot of nonrepresentational painting, I can illustrate a lot of what I've experienced without directly putting that on the people who look at my art."

One of Hannah's first pieces for public view was purchased by RFD President & Director of EMS Gilliano and now proudly hangs in the recently renovated Conference & Training space at RFD's Green Street station.

"I think that if there's any message I want to push, it's to not pigeon-hole yourself or others. Do what you're interested in doing, even if you're not good at it or it's completely out of your comfort zone." Hannah adds, "and also learn CPR because that's really important."

You can follow Hannah and her latest creations via her Instagram below.

Hyperlinks: Follow Hannah on Instagram

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