Danielle Bove’s inspiration to become a firefighter arrived at the worst possible time.
On a night five years ago, Bove and her brother found their father on the floor of his home in Delray Beach, Florida, surrounded by blood after a recurring medical condition had become acute.
“I freaked out,” Bove told Coffee or Die Magazine. “I had no medical training so I called 911.”
Firefighters from Delray Beach were first to arrive, including driver-engineer Crystal White. Bove said seeing another woman dive into saving her father’s life was, even in the moment, revelatory.
“She worked my dad so well,” Bove said in a video shared by the Palm Beach Fire Rescue Department. “She was talking to him, and she would not leave him there.”
White’s performance, Bove said, struck home with her because she knew her father — whom she called “stubborn” and generally opposed to medical treatment — would be hard for any medic to deal with.
“My dad is not an easy patient,” Bove told Coffee or Die. “He’s the one you need to threaten with the cops: ‘You are going to the hospital, you have no choice.’”
From that night of near panic, Bove found a drive toward emergency medicine.
“I was bartending and waitressing at the time, not a clue what I wanted to do with my life,” Bove said. “My brother was like, ‘Did you see that?’ I was like, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘You’ve got to do that!’”
Bove soon began studying to be an emergency medical technician and is now finishing her probationary period as a firefighter-EMT for Palm Beach County Fire Rescue.
Last week, the department surprised Bove by staging a surprise reunion on camera with White, who is still a firefighter at Delray Beach. It was the first time the two women had met since the call for Bove’s father.
“She personally inspired me,” Bove said. “She was this woman in bunker pants, lights were shining on her — I was like ‘Holy crap, this girl is awesome!’”
White told Coffee or Die that Bove’s new career path means something special for her too. White’s own inspiration for being a firefighter, she said, was her father, who spent 36 years in Bove’s new department, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue.
And Bove was also not the first person she has inspired toward a career in firefighting, White said. She once went on a date with a man who, after hearing about her job, became a firefighter six months later. Along with firefighting, White works as a coordinator for EMS student clinical rotations at Palm Beach State College. As a result, she said, she often meets students and hears how they arrived at the job.
“It’s often family or an event in the community,” White said. “It happens a lot.”