City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More
Cpl. Shawn Wong Won

Featured Article

(Not) Home for the Holidays

Our First Responders Are Always on Call

Article by Matthew MacLean

Photography by John Videler

Originally published in Westport Lifestyle

The holidays are a time to spend with family and friends. During this season, we at Westport Lifestyle want to remember those who are always on call. They are the people who serve our community around the clock working nights, weekends and holidays to keep us safe. They kiss their families goodbye and leave home not knowing what to expect. They come to our aid when we need them the most. While we spend time with loved ones this holiday season, they will be standing watch to keep us safe.

Westport Chief of Police Foti Koskinas never expected to be a police officer. He has deep roots here in town. Foti moved to Westport in 1981 from Greece without knowing a word of English. The community embraced him, helped him learn the language and made him feel right at home. He’s happy to give back.

“I’ve had an incredible career,” he says.

He has been a dog handler, a public safety diver and a member of the Fairfield County S.W.A.T team. He’s also worked closely with the DEA. Foti loves being able to do real police work and shrugs off the long hours. When asked what keeps him going, he beams with pride for the people in his department.

“They’re just wonderful human beings, highly invested in their families.”

There is something special about Westport, he says. One of the things that makes the people special, especially these days, is the willingness to talk and work things out together. In a polarized political climate, he’s proud of the fact that we’re still able to come together as adults, discuss things openly and solve problems together.

Detective Ashley DelVecchio took an interest in police work at a young age. There was a female school resource officer in her high school. Ashley looked up to her, and that admiration is what started her down the path to law enforcement. Her family didn’t understand at first, but they’re glad she’s found her calling. Her favorite part of the job is the variety.

“Every day is different, and you never know what to expect.”

Being away on the holidays is tough on Ashley, but her husband understands. He’s a Westport police officer as well. Being a detective, you never really have a day off.

“You can never know what’s going to happen. A call can come in at any time.”

It’s a message Ashley has for the community as a whole. She wants people to know that, just like everyone else, they want to go home to their families too.

The EMS team understands what it’s like to always be on call. Westport EMS Deputy Director Marc Hartog took an interest in saving lives after a CPR class he took while attending Columbia University. He spent 20 years working in New York City and the last 18 years here in Westport. Having been married for 30 years of his 38-year career, it’s hard to imagine a life without being on call. Still, the work is rewarding.

Marc remembers an experience from several years ago. He was called to assist a woman in cardiac arrest. He and his team brought her back, and he still gets a letter from her family every year to thank him.

“You remember those calls. They stick with you. There’s a reason you’re out there and not with your family,” he says. 

Having such a direct impact on the community makes the personal sacrifices worth it.

The Westport EMS team handles about 2,400 calls per year. That’s a lot of volume for only six full-time staff. There are about 100 volunteers who help share the load.

“We’re really lucky to have this type of system,” Marc says of his staff as well as the volunteers.

Many are high school or college kids from the community, and several have gone on to become doctors or nurses. Others just want to give back to the community.

Cpl. Shawn Wong Won comes from a family that understands giving back to the community. His four older brothers joined the military. Shawn also chose to serve, just a little closer to home. As he puts it, someone had to stay and watch over the family. For Shawn, the best part of working in law enforcement is the direct impact he sees on the people he serves. When asked about his favorite part of the job, he answers simply: “Catching the bad guys.”

Shawn is happy to serve the people of Westport and asks that they keep an open mind in their interaction with the police. With everything going on in the world today, he wants people to understand that he and his colleagues are there to help. When asked about the effect his job has on his family, he responds with typical selflessness.

“The hardest part is the effect it has on my wife; I understand how she feels.”

As the weather gets colder, and we spend more time tucked into our warm homes with friends and family, please take a moment to remember those who serve. Many residents choose to bring warm food to the law enforcement and EMS folks over the holidays, ensuring they never go hungry. Or just stop in to say thanks and introduce yourself to the team. They consider themselves lucky to be part of our community, and we’re certainly lucky to have them.

  • Cpl. Shawn Wong Won
  • Cpl. Shawn Wong Won
  • Westport EMS Deputy Director Marc Hartog
  • Westport EMS Deputy Director Marc Hartog
  • Police Chief Foti Koskinas
  • Detective Ashley DelVecchio
  • Cpl. Shawn Wong Won
  • Police Chief Foti Koskinas
  • Detective Ashley DelVecchio
  • Police Chief Foti Koskinas
  • Westport EMS Deputy Director Marc Hartog