Stephen Kolbe, of Amsterdam, dedicates his life to others, currently serving as a firefighter, EMT and member of the Army National Guard.

As part of the “Hometown Heroes” series, we’ve partnered with County Waste and Latham Ford to celebrate local unsung heroes for their good deeds and honorable work.

We asked Stephen a few questions about his work. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: What inspires you as a member of the Army National Guard and as an EMT?

A: First and foremost is my family. From my father spending eight years in the Navy, to telling myself from a very early age that I was going to join the military and looking up to those who have served before me. Now, as of just about two years ago, my son being born has given me a whole new reason to want to serve and do my job to the best of my abilities.

As for my inspiration of being an EMT, it started a year or two into my military career when I received training as a Combat Life Saver. I did not think it was going to be something that I would enjoy learning, but it turned out to be just the opposite. After the CLS training and deploying to Iraq, I decided that I wanted to get my EMT certification to expand on what the military had taught me, and be more of an asset to the fire company that I was a part of. Now I am allowed to use my skills as an EMT on a daily basis working for GAVAC and being out in the community helping do my part one person at a time.

Q: What's the most rewarding thing about what you do?

A: The most rewarding aspect of all that I do is the fact that sometimes the smallest things are what make the biggest difference. You don’t always have to be using the skills that you possess; it could be something as simple as holding a person’s hand and telling them that everything is going to be ok.  It may not be a big deal to you, but it could mean the world to someone that you are there to help.

Q: What are some challenges?

A: Being an EMT at GAVAC, an MP in the NY Army National Guard, and President/1st Captain at Fort Johnson Fire Company leaves little time for much else. So the biggest challenge I face has to be the struggle to fit all those things I do around my time that I spend with my son and fiancée.  Often they are the ones that have to sacrifice much more than I when the military calls, or the pager goes off because someone is in need. I owe everything I do to my family enabling me to do what I love and backing me 100 percent.

Q: Do you consider yourself a "hero?" Why or why not?

A: Do I consider myself a hero? Absolutely not. I feel that I am just doing what I can and doing my part.  Any credit I receive for doing what I am trained to do should really go to my family and those around me who have helped me get to where I am now. The ultimate compliment that I can ever receive is when my son grows up and tells me that I am his hero. At that point in my life, I will consider myself a hero.