Katelyn Sanders: The Compassionate Firefighter with a Heart for Community

Oct 26, 2023, 08:41 AM by Nuvision 

Nuvision Heroes October First Responder: Katelyn Sanders

Katelyn Sanders is an Alaska-based firefighter EMT who embodies the grit, dedication, and altruism that characterize first responders. Having spent only 2 1/2 years in Alaska and in her role as a firefighter, Katelyn brings an eclectic background to her work, including a degree in early childhood education and experience in child and family services.

Born to Air Force parents, she has a life story filled with frequent relocations, landing her family in Montana, where they eventually retired. Her career pivot from social services to firefighting was a courageous step, driven by the nagging curiosity to be more directly involved in emergencies. "I felt like my previous job was a band-aid, always coming in after the traumatic event. But as a first responder, you get a chance to be there before or when the bad thing is happening," she explains. 

Katelyn admits she had no prior connection to firefighting; it was a career she found intriguing but intimidating. "I literally googled how to become a firefighter," she says, smiling. Her decision reflects an understated bravery — to face the unknown in pursuit of a more immediate impact on people's lives.

Once she stepped into the firefighting community, Katelyn quickly got involved in the service work that has been integral to the culture of her fire department. Driven by a family history of volunteerism and a personal need to be active in her new community, she embraced various charitable causes.

Among the projects she's most passionate about is "Fill the Boot," a fundraising event where she works behind the scenes coordinating efforts. "It's a lot of admin stuff, but it's crucial," she notes. Another program close to her heart is "Shop with a Firefighter," which reconnects her to her past in social services. During these events, children and families go shopping for essentials and toys, often using discounts provided by local businesses. "It's gratifying to see the kids put a toy they want into the cart," she says. Katelyn also gives her time to numerous other projects, ranging from car seat safety events to anti-drunk driving campaigns.

Katelyn's multifaceted involvement in both her job and volunteer activities shows that heroism can be manifested in countless ways. Although she claims she gets something out of her service activities — a sense of community, camaraderie, and even fun — it's evident that what she gives back is invaluable. Through her proactive involvement, relentless spirit, and empathy, Katelyn Sanders sets a shining example of what it means to be a first responder.