Naomi Rodriguez, 38, is an emergency medical service technician for a private EMS company, caring for patients during transport to emergency rooms or between hospitals. She also drives the ambulance, known as a bus. Rodriguez has started training to become a paramedic. She eventually wants to work on life flights –air ambulances that move patients in critical situations – as either a nurse or paramedic.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WORK IN EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES?
I’ve been in the medical field since I was 14. …
When I hit like around 16, my mother found a new boyfriend. … He’s a firefighter, and I think that’s what got me more interested to learn about the EMS field in general, because I knew that the fire department, firefighters, and the EMS pretty much work hand-in-hand. …
What made it more interesting, making me want it more, was 9/11.
WHAT’S THE MOST DIFFICULT THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
Violent behaviors. It could be from a psychiatric patient with mental issues, or what we called EDP’s, emotionally disturbed patient. It could be a number of different things.
TELL ME A MEMORABLE MOMENT ON YOUR JOB.
My first pediatric patient was eight months old and happened to die four times, flat line. And was revived, four times.
And I’m a mother, and I love kids in general, and that one just broke my heart ‘cause, I was being, how you say, empathetic as well as sympathetic toward the mother. …
And I cried. It was my first time dealing with that and seeing that, and learning what’s going on, and I couldn’t do nothing. The most that I was able to do was, as we put the patient on the bus to bring the patient and the team of doctors, was basically making it from point A to point B, as fast as possible, as safe as possible, with no accidents.
DID THE CHILD LIVE?
Yes! I happened to meet the parent like a week later or so, and we happened to bump heads again. And she thankfully told me and appreciated the fact that I was able to get them to the hospital as fast as possible.
YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU STILL NEED FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE, DESPITE HAVING A FULL-TIME JOB.
To make ends meet, I have Section 8 [housing assistance], so that’s how I’m able to kind of control my rent because it goes according to my income. … Without Section 8, I would not be able to pay a single bill of rent or afford the whole thing and let alone buy food. And with the way the economy is going, it’s not making it any easier.
WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU KNEW WHEN YOU STARTED?
I wish I started earlier. I mean, if I knew the stuff that I know now, like after high school, maybe I would have ended up becoming an M.D. instead or a nurse. But other than that, I would have started at an earlier age, and worked my way up further.