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Life in the Spotlight

A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Dale Holsti


Dale Holsti asked for a dance that affected his partner and her family more than he would ever know. Holsti was on duty, called to the house of an elderly woman who was having trouble in the bathroom by her daughter.

Holsti, a Crown Point Firefighter, arrived at the house ready to help, and before leaving he danced back to the woman’s bed with Frank Sinatra’s ‘I Get a Kick Out of You.’ Weeks later, the daughter came to the fire station thanking the crew and Holsti for being a special type of angels looking over her city.

Holsti was in kindergarten when he knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up. Sure, he said, there was the stints of wanting to be an astronaut, but the desire to be a firefighter and paramedic was deeply rooted.

“My whole life, and my parents can vouch for that, I have wanted to be a firefighter and paramedic,” he said. “When I got out of kindergarten my mom would rush me home for lunch to watch Emergency.”

The syndicated television show was on the Los Angeles Firefighter and Paramedics department and was what inspired the young Holsti to grow up to follow in the same footsteps.

Holsti moved to Indiana when he was 18 and went directly to training. He has been in the medical emergency services since 1999, including working for Bethlehem Steel, Tri Creek Ambulance, and now works for the Crown Point Fire Department.

Now, as a full-time firefighter and paramedic, there is no doubt Holsti was born for his job.

He comes to his 24-hour work shift excited and leaves excited to come back 48 hours later. He looks forward to work everyday, ready for the diversity of what that day may bring.

“Part of it is the guys I work with,” he said. “You spend one-third of your life with these guys, like a second family or a homme away from home.”

No two calls are the same and some still are mind-blowing to the team, he said.

“We see some stuff, stuff you don’t know how it happened but now you’re there to fix it.”

When he was called to the home, it was another lift assist, meaning the fire team was called to help someone up who had fallen. It is very common, Holsti said, and the woman that night could not get up by herself nor with the help of her daughter.

The daughter opened the door with a frustrated, flustered look, apologizing for having to call Holsti and his partner, he recalled. The older woman was battling brain cancer. When Holsti came to the room he bent down and asked her to wrap her arms around his neck like they were going to dance.

“That is not my line, it is probably said by paramedics all the time,” he said. “When I looked at her, she just looked totally defeated and I don’t know if my grandma was on my mind, but I said, ‘Hey, when was the last time you had a dance?’”

She answered, “Oh it’s been 30 years.”

Holsti told her to pick the music and they would go. She said a band that he had never heard so he recommended Frank Sinatra.

“No, he screams too much,” she answered. When she turned down three more suggestions, Holsti finally had to run outside to get wifi, downloaded the first Sinatra song he could find, and came back in.

“We shuffled to the bed and swayed a little side to side like the 6th grade dance where you do the side-to-side shuffle. Then, I got her to bed and tucked her in.”

Never did he expect he would hear back from the daughter weeks later. She stopped by and started bawling, telling Holsti about the death of her mother and how the dance was one of the best things that happened to her in the last few days of her life.

“She started bawling and I had to start fighting back tears because I am sitting next to nine guys at the firehouse and I was hoping not to cry,” he said. “I was really taken by it. It really shook me up. I have never had that experience before.”

It was just something about the situation, her face, and the ‘thought that this woman is someone’s grandmother. This could be my grandmother,’ he said. “It was the right thing to do.”

Holsti and his wife live in Cedar Creek. His wife works in the cancer facility at the University of Chicago and they have a four-year-old son who is skipping a week of preschool with his parents to go to Disney World for his fifth birthday in September.

“We will make him cut paper and glue things, the pre-school stuff,” he said laughing.

During his 48 hours off schedule, Holsti runs his own travel agency company which is a good way to balance the negative things from his other job, he said. He and his son also enjoy heading to the park and other fun amenities found throughout Northwest Indiana.

Holsti was touched by the gesture of the daughter coming to find him, to thank him for the help and kindness he bestowed on her mother. A letter was given to the head of the Fire Chief, thanking him for his team and for Holsti, the ‘angel’ on staff.

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