By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Southborough – Even at a very young age, Lieutenant Chris Dano knew that he wanted to help people. As he got older, he joined the Army Reserves and simultaneously joined the Auburn Fire Department as a volunteer. He knew immediately that this was his calling.
“One ride in the fire truck and that was it for me,” he recalled. “My best friend from high school wanted to take an EMT class so I took it with him and I got working on the ambulance. I loved that, too. I became a paramedic and was hired full-time at the Auburn Fire Department. I was the first paramedic there.”
He was a member of that fire department for 10 years. He enjoyed working there but wanted to fight fires as well as ride in the ambulance and they did not have one; they used a private company.
After learning about an opening in Southborough, Dano joined the Southborough Fire Department in 2002 as one of eight paramedics. In 2004, he was promoted to lieutenant.
“I met with the Board of Chiefs for an interview and was fortunate to have been selected for this new role. I am one of four shift officers on rotation so I am a shift commander. Each officer has their own responsibilities,” said Dano.
When he is not helping to put out fires and tend to emergencies, Dano is in charge of public education. Every year they apply for a grant from the state. Some of the school programs that have been highly successful include: Escape Drills in the Home (EDITH) for third-grade students, as well as “Stop, Drop, Roll – How to Stay Low in the Smoke” for first- and second-graders.
Dano shared a story about an emergency call that came in where a mother and son were trying to administer CPR to the dad. Paramedics arrived and took over but he did not make it. The mother expressed guilt that perhaps she and her son had done something wrong. That inspired him to educate students at P. Brent Trottier Middle School where he teaches a CPR class for eight-grade students.
“It’s beneficial to learn,” Dano noted. “This is a heroic effort that may or may not work. This is how you do it but expect any type of result.”
Dano is also the senior liaison for the Fire Department, a position created about 10 years ago. He works closely with Aaron Richardson of the Southborough Police Department to ensure a comfort level among the seniors in the community. He wants to ensure that they would call the fire department or call for an ambulance.
“We get grant money to teach more programs to the seniors,” he explained. “This Safe Grant allows me to go to the Senior Center on a weekly basis.”
He also just got a grant for a Knox-Box, a lock box at a home or apartment building that holds a key to allow entrance to emergency personnel.
“In the fire trucks and the ambulance, it’s a safe that only the firefighters have the code to. This way we can safely open a homeowner’s door without breaking the door down or doing damage to the home,” Dano said.
They recently obtained two more Knox Boxes and Dano is hoping for more. Residents can request them, free of charge, and the combinations to the Knox Boxes will be entered into a database.
Being a public service employee is hard work but very rewarding. Dano thrives on his ability to truly make a difference.
“People always think they are burdening us when they call. I don’t want anyone to ever hesitate,” said Dano.
In his free time, Dano, who lives in Hudson, enjoys riding his Harley-Davidson, leather-crafting and spending time with his family.