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Proud to Follow in My Dad’s Footsteps 

September 27, 2023 | By Scott Kress, RN, New York 2 Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) 

I was one of those little boys who always said, “when I grow up, I want to be like my dad”. From a young age, I wanted to do everything my father did, whether it was hammering nails, fighting fires, or being a member of the National Disaster Medical System’s Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT), I wanted to do it all. Luckily, my childhood dreams came true.  

Photo of Scott Kress (left) and his father,  Steve Kress (right)

My father, Steve Kress, joined DMAT in 1997 as logistical personnel for the New York 2 team. I have distinct memories of pestering him with questions about his weekly training. I remember being on cloud nine whenever I was lucky enough to tag along when he would have to go to the team’s warehouse. I remember asking for details about how the tents are set up and what he did during the training sessions. I was like a sponge soaking up his knowledge. 

While growing up, it was customary for my dad, a volunteer firefighter, to run out the door every time his fire pager went off. We would get a hug and kiss, and out the door he went. Then came September 11, 2001. Soon after the planes hit, my dad left his day job as a surgical technologist and went to Ground Zero. DMAT NY-2 would be deployed to Ground Zero for months to provide medical assistance to 9/11 survivors and responders. One day, my mother told my brother and I that we would visit my father at Ground Zero. After that visit, I knew  I would join my father on DMAT NY-2 one day. 

Photo of Scott Kress (left) and his father,  Steve Kress (right) providiing support at a hospitalLife would move on, and more deployments would come, which grew my desire to join DMAT even more. I graduated from nursing school in 2014, and after a couple of years of emergency department nursing, I applied to DMAT. Four years ago, almost 18 years after I visited my father at Ground Zero, I became a member of DMAT NY-2. 

My first two deployments were COVID-19 related. I deployed to Gallup, New Mexico, to provide surge support at a hospital pushed to the limits by COVID-19 and later to Oakland, California, to assist with  opening and operating the nation’s first mass vaccination site. My most recent deployment was to Perry, Florida, to support a rural hospital in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia. I’m honored each time I’m asked to serve with DMAT, but my most special deployments are when my father and I deploy together. Being able to help others with your childhood idol at your side ​is   hard to put into words. 

Now as a father of two, my dream is for my kids to say, “when I grow up, I want to be like you dad”.