From The Westerly Sun 2/10/2020:
CHARLESTOWN — If you ask the youngest members of the Charlestown Ambulance Rescue Service what drew them to join the agency, many will tell you it was the opportunity to serve the community. When asked who inspired them and why they remain, the answer often comes back to Capt. Travis Serra and his wife, Capt. Katie Serra.
"Travis and Katie are such an inspiration to me and all who know them," a teenage member wrote recently in recommending them for accommodation to the Rhode Island Southern Firefighters League. "They are welcoming, supportive and always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the success of their team, family and friends. I can not be more grateful for the impact these two have had on my life and in such a short period of time."
The couple isn't the type to brag and when asked about their impact and why they do it, they will simply tell you they like volunteering and it's all part of the job.
Ambulance Chief Andrew Kettle said this week that the two are essential leaders that bring a wide variety of skills to the department, however, and are both essential in keeping operations moving forward and motivating a whole generation of aspiring medics and EMTs to pursue their dreams.
The two longtime members, who have a combined 29 years of experience with the Charlestown Ambulance Rescue Service, were recently named the co-recipients of the 2020 winner of the Frederick A. Stanley Dedicated Service Award. They were awarded the honor in late January during the Rhode Island Southern Firefighters League's annual legislator’s night.
"We were very surprised when they told us," Katie Serra said. "This is not something we were expecting at all. Chief Stanley made so many big contributions throughout the state, so to be awarded with a recognition in his name was just so humbling for us."
Kingston Fire District Chief Nate Barrington, president of the league, and Watch Hill Fire Lt. Chris Korestki, each said there could not be a more fitting couple to carry the honor.
"When you think of Fred Stanley, those who knew him understand how committed he was to volunteerism, to serving the community and to always trying to do the right thing," Barrington said. "That is exactly what these two do every day."
Travis Serra, 32, has been a member of the department for 16 years now. The small business owner operates Serra Designs LLC in Charlestown, which specializes in architecture work, and as a volunteer he specializes in rescue response training including use of the jaws of life, and helps the department with personnel matters and recruitment.
His wife Katie, 30, joined the department about three years later and she said the two immediately felt a connection. That spark has not only led to a strong partnership in leading the department, but led to the two marrying about four years ago.
Kettle said Katie Serra's contributions to the department are invaluable, as she is a certified EMT instructor and physician assistant.
Katie Serra currently works at Westerly Hospital and has previously worked for Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, as well as in Boston. Her experience and expertise allows her to work directly with department staff as an instructor, training new members and re-certifying existing staff at virtually no cost to the volunteer department. Kettle said she is also active throughout the region, offering a wide array of medical training for civilians and EMTs alike.
Both also volunteer as the department's primary recruitment contact with Chariho High School, and both work for the agency most Friday nights with aspiring teenagers interested in working with the agency.
Local students may join the department as a junior member at age 14 and can begin serving in a variety of capacities at 16, officials said. Katie Serra encouraged anyone interested to call or stop by the department to learn more.
"Both of these volunteers, they are so committed to what they do and together they provide a constant source of leadership, not only for our agency but for the entire region," Kettle said.
Koretski said the two are also inspiring a whole new generation of leaders, which is essential in recruiting enough manpower to help meet the region's growing emergency response needs.
"As young officers, they are not only the next generation of leaders, but they are instilling a motivation and drive in today's teenagers," Koretski said. "They are not only serving the community now and doing it well, but they are committed to grooming officers and members that will continue a legacy of leadership and public service in southwest Rhode Island."