Updated March 4: South Beach Regional Fire Authority has created a link for live remote viewing of the Darlene Raffelson memorial service Saturday, March 6 at 1 p.m. — https://youtu.be/1KQITr6GWTE.
A memorial service and procession for longtime South Beach resident, firefighter and emergency medical technician Darlene Raffelson will take place Saturday in Grayland.
Raffelson began her fire service career in 1978 as a volunteer firefighter with the Ocosta Fire Department. Not long after, she joined South Beach Ambulance in Westport as a volunteer EMT. In 1990, South Beach sponsored her attendance to the Tacoma Community College paramedic program, where Darlene graduated top of her class.
After graduating, she was hired as the first and only paramedic in Westport and the surrounding South Beach area. Raffelson was instrumental in creating a program that helped fully staff South Beach Ambulance, and was present as South Beach became an International Association of Fire Fighters affiliate, and was supportive of a robust volunteer program.
In 1999, Darlene was hired at the Tumwater Fire Department. She worked for many years on Medic 5 in the city of Tumwater, and was later promoted to paramedic lieutenant and eventually training lieutenant. As a training lieutenant, she fulfilled the role of training officer.
Raffelson’s career ended with an unfortunate medical retirement in 2015. In August of 2018, she was diagnosed with a duty-related cancer, enduring multiple rounds of chemotherapy and surgeries. She passed away at her home Dec. 17, 2020.
A procession and memorial service with full line-of-duty honors will be held at 1 p.m. March 6 at the South Beach Christian Center in Grayland. The procession is scheduled to arrive at noon. Attendance to the memorial is limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, but a live stream link will be provided prior to the service. Look for a link to the live stream on the South Beach Regional Fire Authority Facebook page, facebook.com/southbeachrfa.
The procession will stage at Ocosta Junior-Senior High School and will travel to Grayland. The staging area is not open to the public and only uniformed fire service members and fire apparatus are allowed in the procession. Drivers can expect some traffic congestion between 11 a.m. and noon along the route Saturday.
Donations in memory of Raffelson may be made to South Beach Union Fire Fighters IAFF Local 3689, PO Box 1718, Westport, WA 98595. Donations can also be made to Tumwater Fire Fighters Union IAFF Local 2409, PO Box 14456, Tumwater, WA 98511.