Meet Kaitlyn Collazo, a newly-promoted Field Supervisor from our Toms River base. Kaitlyn started as an EMT and worked her way up into field leadership. We caught up with Kaitlyn to ask about what made her want to join EMS, tips on getting promoted from within, and her career goals. Here's what we learned.
What was the inspiration behind your decision to start a career in EMS?
Growing up my mom was very sick due to cancer and required a lot of medical attention. I specifically remember one instance when 911 had to be called and I got to ride in the back of the ambulance alongside her. Although this wasn't a positive memory in my life, it left a huge impression on me. I've always wanted to be able to help other people the way those EMTs were able to help my mom that day.
Could you walk us through your EMT certification process? Any tips on preparing for the exams?
I enrolled in a three-month EMT program while living in California. It was a very fast-paced course and so much was taught in a short amount of time. The instructors do their best to prepare you for all skills testing as well as the National Registry for Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam. Skills were practiced every day after each lesson. You must pass the NREMT exam in order to become EMT certified. I prepared by using websites, review notes, and flash cards provided by instructors. I was very confident after the program ended and passed the test on my very first attempt!
What are some of your daily duties as an EMT?
It depends. Some non-emergency medical transports are patients with medical appointments they need to get to, or discharged hospital patients. Sometimes it's a patient who falls and needs to be taken to the emergency room. No two days are the same. For the most part, it's about ensuring that patients get from point A to point B in the same, if not better condition they were found in. Some patients are repetitive, in which case we get to know them and their families. We all end up forming a bond.
What about in your second role as Field Training Officer (FTO)?
As an FTO, I ensure that all new EMTs receive the proper training in order to perform their daily
duties. Regardless if they have experience with 911 or another company, I help exemplify and demonstrate what will be expected of them.
How does working as an EMT prepare you as a FTO?
As an EMT, you're constantly interacting with diverse groups of people. Whether it's nurses,
doctors, sick patients, parents, or minors - one has to be able to communicate with anyone at any time. This helped prepare me for the FTO position because I'm able to talk to complete strangers without being shy anymore.
"True leaders don't create followers. They create more leaders."
What's your approach to mentoring new EMTs?
I go by this quote, "True leaders don't create followers. They create more leaders."
In mentoring new EMTs, I share my knowledge and instill confidence in every one of them so they feel confident in themselves. From there, they'll be able to pay it forward by helping other employees and new hires.
What are some common challenges that new EMTs face when first starting off? How do you help them overcome those challenges?
Many new EMTs are shy and afraid to ask questions. I completely understand because I was the same way. It's better to ask questions than to be hesitant and put someone's life at risk. It doesn't matter if it's your first day on the job or if you have 10 years of experience - you can always learn something new.
How were you able to move up the ladder at On Time?
After working here almost two years, I gained confidence in myself and my abilities as an
EMT. There was a point where there were so many new EMT hires that my partner and I trained every day. I wasn't a Field Supervisor at the time, but I contributed to the training process and shared my knowledge. Those experiences sparked my interest in field leadership and I expressed to my superiors my willingness to become an FTO - which then led to my current Field Supervisor role.
What do you enjoy most about working as a Field Supervisor?
I'm one of the first few interactions new employees will encounter, so I enjoy making them feel welcomed and leaving a good impression. I get to see what they're capable of and help them with any weaknesses. People's lives are in your hands, so if you require more training, it will be provided for you.
How is it working as an EMT during a pandemic? Do you feel safe?
I actually started working in EMS as soon as the pandemic hit, and On Time has always provided a safe working environment. Proper PPE is provided to all employees. Masks, gloves, goggles, and
replacement filters for masks are provided. Staff members never walk into a COVID-19 call blindly. A heads up is always given in advance with positive COVID-19 patients in order to properly prepare for the job at hand. Cleaning materials are also provided to decontaminate all equipment after every call.
What made you choose On Time specifically?
On Time was the first place I applied to when I was looking for an EMT job and I got a response instantly to move forward with my application. During the interview process I could sense they genuinely cared about their employees. I was intrigued with the types of calls such as long distance transports, events, and the different travel locations throughout New Jersey you get to see.
What are your career inspirations?
When I first started at On Time I was very content with just being an EMT. But I'm currently working in Specialty Care Transports (SCT) alongside nurses, and my career interests have shifted to wanting to become a nurse myself! I'm waiting to take an SCT class in order to help more with critical care. The nurses are guiding me in the right direction to get started with nursing school as well. :)
Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking about entering the EMS field but has no prior healthcare experience?
Don't be afraid to go for it! On Time is a great place to start. Whether you want a foot in the door in the EMS world or you want a break from the crazy 911 jobs, this is the place to be. Everyone is like family. Everyone is willing to help. This company provides you with all the right training and tools in order to be successful.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Kaitlyn! We are so proud to see you succeeding and to have you as part of the team.
Interested in becoming an EMT in New Jersey? Want to apply online now?
Learn more about other EMS roles at On Time such as Mobility Assistance Vehicle Operators (MAVOs) and Ambulance Vehicle Operators (AVOs).