Jen Weber shows students some of the ambulance equipment.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The COVID-19 pandemic has perhaps brought the role of first-responders more to the forefront lately, but these men and women have regularly been serving their communities in numerous emergency situations.
This is a series profiling some of our local first-responders in partnership with Lee Bank to highlight the work they do every day — not just during a pandemic.
Emergency medical technician Jen Weber has been working in the health-care field for awhile but only recently became involved in emergency medicine. She attended Mount Anthony Union High School in Bennington, Vt., and now lives in Lanesborough. We talked to her about why she wanted to become an EMT.
QUESTION: How long have you been an EMT? What is your title?
ANSWER: I have been an EMT in Massachusetts for a little over a year and half. I'm the emergency medical services director for the Lanesborough Volunteer Fire Department [which operates an ambulance service] I'm also a teaching assistant in the County Ambulance EMT Program.
Q: What influenced you to become an EMT?
A: My Dad has always been my biggest influence in life! He was a volunteer EMT in Vermont while I was growing up and it's one of the many things I admire about him. I've worked in the medical field for 15 years and I saw a need in my local community for help. I thought emergency medicine would be a great fit for me, so I joined the Lanesborough Fire Department and was able to get into an EMT class. I've always found great satisfaction in being able to help people and make a difference.
Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: There's a lot of great things about my job. We often see patients on one of the worst days of their lives. I think the best part is feeling as though you've made a difference in their lives, not only the critical calls but the less emergent calls which give you a chance to connect with people, listen to them and let them know you care about what's going on with them. Then there's the first-responder community I get to work with. I've met some of the most amazing and influential people in life in this field. It's truly an honor to be part of a network of fire, police, and EMS that all work so well together to protect and serve the community.
Q: What is the most challenging?
A: It's difficult to see situations where our first-responder community is not being appreciated or respected. We truly do care about you. Every step we take for you especially on calls is to help you the best we know how. It's difficult to see people that you respect and care about being treated unfairly.
Q: What has changed the most about your job since the onset of COVID-19? Have you seen a significant increase in the number of calls for your services?
A: We've obviously seen a change recently in the policies and procedures we use to respond to calls. There's also been an increase in the communications between our department and the state's Emergency Services Department as well as [Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency], the Department of Public Health, and epidemiology. It's really been incredible to see how well all the resources came together to share and distribute information. We initially saw a sharp decrease in the number of medical calls we received but we have returned to a fairly normal call volume now.
Q: What would you like the general public to know about EMTs and their job responsibilities?
A: In my department, we all volunteer our time, from the firefighter/first-responders to the EMTs. We are really all here to help you, please be patient and kind. We truly do understand that you most likely didn't plan on spending your morning/day/night with us in an ambulance but we have left our families, work, and lives to come and help you. We spend countless hours training to stay up to date on the most current protocols and procedures, and often see things that will affect us the rest of our lives on scene. Please give us the same kindness and compassion that we provide to you.
Q: Who or what has influenced you the most since becoming an EMT?
A: I've been so lucky in my first-responder career to work with so many amazing providers that have influenced me to strive to be better and do more. My County Ambulance EMT instructors who I'm still constantly learning from and I'm now lucky enough to call my friends. The Lanesborough Fire Department family that welcomed me two years ago and have shown me over and over again what it's like to have people that show up and support each other.
Of course, I couldn't go without mentioning my family for being so supportive of my EMS career and letting me find my true heart in EMS. I have two amazing little boys who think their Mama is pretty cool for getting to ride in trucks with lots of flashing lights.
Q: Any advice you would like to offer to our readers to help them stay safe?
A: Make wise choices! Take care of yourself! Drink water! Wash your hands! Be kind! See your doctor regularly!
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