A 1985 story in The Daily Progress helped lead Kostas Alibertis to turn his dedication to caring for others down a path to benefit the whole community.
While attending the University of Virginia, Alibertis took an EMT course for general knowledge. A 1985 Progress story said the Western Albemarle Rescue Squad was looking for more help over the summer, and he decided to volunteer.
“I came out here and embraced it, and it became a passion and a love,” he said. “Doing community service is certainly something that is part of who I am as a person.”
Alibertis is on his second, now 20-year long, stint as chief of the rescue squad, one of the few all-volunteer fire or rescue stations left in Albemarle County.
“I think what Kostas has achieved over the last decade, and a little more, is kind of remarkable,” said Dr. George Lindbeck, who serves as the medical director for WARS. “Particularly bringing in some of the younger people that he has, the college students and people who are interested in careers in healthcare. Bringing those folks in has been a real positive.”
Emergency medical service work wasn’t something Alibertis originally intended to pursue after college, but the Charlottesville area is strategically located between his family members, which was a big draw.
“EMS was an opportunity and a profession that allowed me to stay in this area, and it became a passion, something I really enjoy doing,” he said. “ … It all just kind of came together very nicely.”
Alibertis, who is Greek, said his upbringing really shaped who he is as a person.
“Doing things for others is something my parents instilled in me, so community service is something that is part of my persona, my character,” he said.
Now, he’s teaching advanced cardiac life support and pediatric advanced life support courses at the UVa Health System.
People regularly approach Alibertis to thank him for saving their life or the life of a family member, said Melanie Welcher, whom met Alibertis through WARS.
“It’s one of those things where if Kostas is there, you know you’re in good hands,” she said. “Because he’s very high on good patient care, doing the right thing.”
While serving as a Task Force Commander with the Thomas Jefferson EMS Council, Alibertis would regularly help at Remote Area Medical’s yearly clinic in Wise County, and once made a unique rescue.
“One year, there was a little bird that was injured, and we’ve got pictures of him taking care of this bird for this child, helping the child get it so it was safe and putting it in a box,” Welcher said.
Though he is compassionate, Alibertis also has a “fiery” side, colleagues said.
“He wants everybody to be the best that they can be — he wants people to really know material, and it’s not something that’s a given, you have to earn it,” said Welcher, who is dating Alibertis.
He has also volunteered at the Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad, and in 2008 was the first CARS associate member to reach Life Member status. And while most of his time is spent working as a paramedic, Alibertis is also a member of the Crozet Community Advisory Committee, which helps develop and implement the area’s Master Plan.
“That is one more opportunity for somebody to interact with me, or if they have questions in reference to the agency,” he said. “It makes us more part of the community, which I think is critical.”
Lindbeck said he considers Alibertis an expert prehospital care provider, in terms of his knowledge base and skill set, and that he’s a talented patient care provider in his own right.
“Not only has he kept the squad very up to date and adept at providing patient care — their external duties, if you will — he’s also maintained that internal sense of family and service that continues to keep people and attract people to the squad,” he said.
Albertis credits his accomplishments to those he has worked with at WARS.
“I think I attribute my success and longevity to the fact that I’ve got really great people here that make it easy,” he said.