Hometown Hero: Kelsey Whetro
A Captain at the Kansas City Fire Department (KCFD), Kelsey Whetro utilizes her position to show young women they can accomplish their dreams no matter the obstacles.
The South Kansas City native joined the fire department when she was 19 years old. She has been with KCFD for 13 years, spending the first 11 as a firefighter/EMT and the past two as Captain. She has worked all over the city but is currently assigned to the Northland.
Whetro oversees a crew of four and speaks very highly of her team. Her primary goal as Captain remains very clear. “My sole responsibility is to make sure that at the end of the day, everyone goes home safely to their families,” said Whetro.
With the responsibility that comes with her position, Whetro relies on mindfulness techniques and a clear head to help get everyone home safely on a daily basis.
“Our job is tough because every single day offers something completely unpredictable,” said Whetro. “During those stressful times, I try to be mindful. It’s important to take a deep breath and analyze the whole picture. Many of the situations we deal with are ever changing, much like other situations we come across in life. I try to approach the calls we run with a clear, calm mind and take things one step at a time. I try to take that same approach to the other areas of my life, as well.”
Despite how difficult the job can be, Whetro sees each call as an opportunity to help others in their time of need.
“We can make somebody’s worst day of their life better,” Whetro said. “People call 911 because they don’t know what to do. When we respond, we have the opportunity to help make their situation better, which is my favorite part of the job. It doesn’t always end perfectly, but we do as much as we can to make the situation better than it was when they called.”
In addition to her work as a firefighter, Whetro is passionate about working with young women. She serves as a mentor for Camp Fury, a residential week-long camp for Girl Scouts in high school who are interested in pursuing a public safety career or just want to build their courage, confidence and teamwork skills. Female police officers, firefighters and EMTs from around the metro area mentor the girls while they learn skills related to those professions.
“We mentor the girls for a week, so they are challenged every single day,” Whetro said. “One day might be a firefighter day, and the next day could be a law enforcement day. We teach them a lot of the skills they would need if they were in that respective field. They can get a taste of what the job is like and push themselves mentally and physically and just really challenge themselves overall. It’s an amazing experience. The girls come into camp nervous, and they leave as confident young women ready to take on the world!”
Working as a female in a predominantly male field, Whetro is passionate about showing young women they can accomplish their dreams regardless of what anyone else thinks or says.
“It is important to make sure that you don’t give up on a dream just because of other people’s opinion about that dream, “said Whetro. “Specifically for young girls, a lot of the time they may not see women in the field they want to pursue, so it’s challenging for them to move forward. That’s why I think Camp Fury is so important. They can establish a bond with women who are already successful in jobs that they are interested in. The biggest thing to me is to encourage young women to not give up on their dream…just keep pushing and doing whatever it takes to achieve it.”
For her devoted service to the Kansas City community, Kelsey is being honored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and the Kansas City Royals as a “Blue KC Hometown Hero” on September 20 at the Royals game.