KVFD Volunteer Spotlight: Truc Nguyen

The next volunteer we’re spotlighting is 13-year member Truc Nguyen. Truc joined our team after his freshman year of college and is now a career firefighter and paramedic for the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Service (DCFEMS) Department. Keep reading to learn more about Truc and his time at KVFD.

Why did you decide to join KVFD?

I have been a member for 13 years and began volunteering here the summer after my freshman year of college. At the time, I wanted to become a physician and was looking for opportunities to engage in patient care before applying to medical school. What drew me to KVFD and the unique role of an emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic was the chance to take on primary responsibility for a patient. To the best of my knowledge, there is no other medical trade or profession that grants the authority to make a medical decision independently without direct supervision unless you hold a graduate degree. For example, roles like medical assistants, certified nursing assistants (CNAs), and even registered nurses (RNs) typically operate in settings where nurse practitioners (NPs), physician assistants (PAs), or physicians are readily available and ultimately responsible for the patient. While transporting someone to the hospital in an ambulance, you are often alone to make decisions until your arrival and transfer of care. That was a long explanation, but it’s what made becoming a member of KVFD so much more enticing than volunteering at a hospital or shadowing a physician. The stakes are higher, and the personal and professional stewardship that you develop as you interact so intimately with another human being in their time of need is unparalleled.

What titles, roles, and responsibilities have you held in your time at KVFD?

In a volunteer organization like KVFD, your titles and responsibilities ebb and flow over the years to accommodate changes in your life and availability. My current rank is Firefighter 3, and I am the engine driver (and cook!) on Tuesday Night Crew. Previously, Captain was the highest rank I had attained. In that role, I was the shift officer of Tuesday Night Crew and oversaw firefighter training within the department. On the administrative side, I had served as the Station Board Representative who advocated for members’ interests and contributed to the maintenance of firehouse facilities as a member of the Board of Directors. I was also the senior Live-In for a few years. Live-Ins are members who make the firehouse their primary residence in exchange for a certain amount of on-duty service. I was one for six years, and at the time, the requirement was at least 48 hours of volunteering a week. To incentivize more Live-Ins, the current requirement is only 36 hours a week. It is a unique program that quickly broadens your experience, and more people should know about it!

What do you do when you’re not volunteering?

When I am not volunteering, I am just trying to live by my life motto, “Love all. Trust a few. Do wrong to none.” I have a wife named Qiuyin (like chewin’ gum) who is the paint to my canvas and a pomeranian husky named Zuko who reminds me daily what unconditional love is. I work full-time as a career firefighter and paramedic for the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Service (DCFEMS) Department. I currently hold the rank of Sergeant, and I am assigned to the Fire Prevention Division where I manage a cadre of wonderful fire inspectors who ensure that residences and businesses meet fire code and are safe to the citizens and visitors of DC. I am pursuing a master’s degree in Homeland Security at the Naval Postgraduate School with hopes of elevating my emergency management skills by learning more about critical infrastructure protection and emerging threats. I had gotten my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. It’s okay to have changing interests as you experience life and that you should feel empowered to work hard at what makes you happy! My “for fun” activities include dancing at raves, sailing yachts in beautiful places, and eating good food with friends.

What is your favorite part about volunteering at KVFD?

My favorite part about volunteering at KVFD is the people that you connect with, both in the firehouse and while providing service to the community. I have spent many unforgettable nights talking to other members about life, dreams, and nonsense until the sun comes up. A handful of my very best friends were met in this firehouse, and the KVFD family has supported me over 13 years of tragedy and joy. I started volunteering when I was 18 years old, and I am 32 now. The people here have seen me get my heart broken, stood by me through all the changes as I discovered who I am, and are present to celebrate every one of my milestone achievements. On the ambulance and engine, I’ve held the hands of the homeless and the wealthy. I’ve been given advice by children and grandparents. I’ve laughed and cried with people who are just like me and nothing like me. The diversity of people encountered by way of volunteering is infinite, but the imprint left by each on my soul is distinct. In the setting of an emergency, responders and patients are stripped of their superficial barriers and identities, and the result is intimacy and trust in its purest form. Being a volunteer is a constant and welcome reminder that connection is at the heart of humanity.

How has your experience at KVFD had a positive influence on your career or other aspects of your life?

I think it goes without saying that volunteering at KVFD gave me the skills and maturity to excel at my career with DCFEMS. A critical yet less known positive influence that KVFD had on my life is that it brought my wife Qiuyin into my life. She and I both went to Hopkins, and we met on a school-sponsored service trip to Honduras called Global Brigades where we brought medical supplies to set up temporary clinics in rural communities that needed them. During that trip, I was telling the other brigaders that they could come ride along with me at KVFD if they wanted to gain more medical experience. Of course, Qiuyin was the only one who took me up on the offer and was scheduled to ride along for one weekend. However, Winter Storm Jonas decided to dump 30 inches of snow on Maryland, and she was snowed in at the firehouse for five days. During that time, we got to talking, and the rest, they say, is history. Qiuyin herself states that had it not been for that ride along opportunity, she and I would probably never have hung out again after getting back to the states from Honduras.

Join the Family
Are you ready to join the KVFD family? Head over to our join page for more information about how to apply, and stay tuned for more spotlights of our amazing volunteers!