Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
March 10, 2009 Issue
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Dan Hust | Democrat

DANIELLE CASSIDY WILL leave for Antarctica, where she'll koin her brother John in the firefighting and rescue unit.

here she comes

By Dan Hust
FORESTBURGH — Forestburgh native John Cassidy Jr. won’t get to see his sister upon his return home from Antarctica next month.
No problem – she’ll see him before he leaves.
“I thought it would be awesome to do,” said Danielle Cassidy, who will arrive in Antarctica on September 4, four days before her brother starts the long journey home.
That’s weather-permitting, of course. The skies at the bottom of the globe are even more temperamental than here.
But if that rendezvous proves impossible, just give it two months. That’s how long John will be stateside, returning in November to a McMurdo Station eager to welcome the talented 27-year-old back into its well-insulated fold.
By then, Danielle will have gained firsthand knowledge of much of what her brother has blogged about at, as she progresses through her seven-month stint as an Antarctic firefighter.
Crazy as it sounds, she can’t wait.
“It’s the chance of a lifetime,” the 24-year-old said – an accurate assessment, to be sure.
It’s a chance not just to fight fires (yes, accidents do happen in Antarctica) but to watch scientists in action, particularly those who share her passion for marine biology – a passion she hopes to one day make a career.
Parents Theresa and John Cassidy Sr. are fully supportive.
“We’re very proud,” Theresa said of both her children, saying she’d be more worried about them working in New York City than Antarctica.
“And they’re not in Iraq,” added John.
Both longtime volunteers with the Forestburgh Fire Department, John and Theresa are excited that their children have carried on that family tradition, with both John Jr. and Danielle becoming local firefighters and EMTs.
Danielle has turned her volunteer experiences into paid jobs with MobileMedic and Monticello Gaming and Raceway, while John has recently been promoted to a lieutenant’s rank with the Antarctic Fire Department.
Part of their parents’ calm farewell may stem from the fact that John Jr. has been able to call home as often as he wants, and they expect Danielle to have the same ability.
“I’ve stayed on the phone with him two or three hours,” Theresa confided.
But Danielle, like John, can expect equally long hours filing paperwork, responding to emergencies like plane crashes and heart attacks, and just dealing with endless days where the sun never appears.
She’s trained for most of it, from nearly a decade of service with the Forestburgh Fire Department to several recent days of intense air rescue drills in Salt Lake City under the aegis of employer Raytheon Polar Services.
In the process, she’s bonded with a group of men and women with whom she’ll serve at McMurdo.
“In the week and a half I spent with those people, they made me feel at home,” she related.
She’s also found support from her current employers in Sullivan County, both of whom have granted her generous leaves of absence.
And then there’s her brother, who has provided her with perhaps the most support of all – and invaluable experience.
“He inspired me to do it,” Danielle said. “He tested the frozen tundra.”

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