Two Cadets become Squad Members
By Jennifer Ersalesi
On a rainy Tuesday afternoon, Hannah Krzyszton, Kacper Gozdek, and Michael Tarantino were on call at the Rutherford First-Aid Ambulance Corps. Hannah Krzyszton, former RHS student and a current freshman studying Biology and Pre-Med at the University of New Haven and Kacper Gozdek, Bergen Tech graduate from Lyndhurst, found some time to discuss their roles in the Ambulance Corps and why they chose this path with This is Rutherford.
TIR: Prior to becoming Squad members with the Rutherford First-Aid Ambulance Corps this fall, you were Cadets (Summer 2019) with the Ambulance Corps, why did you choose to become a Cadet?
Hannah Krzyszton: I was talking to my mom about potential summer jobs and becoming an EMT was her idea. It sounded like a good plan, so we started looking into classes and certification and found out that Rutherford was training.
Kacper Godzek: I have always wanted to be a member of the NYC Fire Department. I figured I would start by becoming an EMT. First, I thought this training would help me prepare to become a firefighter. Second, I went to school with someone who also applied here and so I also looked into it. I am currently looking into and applying to fire science programs.
TIR: What are the major differences between being a Cadet and a Squad member?
HK: Well now we can be left alone in the back of the Ambulance Corps building to receive calls. We have more responsibility and are held to higher standards. As Squad members, we have to do patient reports and we have to complete them during and after the calls we take. We feel more confident and I know I feel like I can say, “I got this”.
KG: We are able to drive the ambulance now. We find ourselves a partner that we feel comfortable with and we work alongside that person. We also have more opportunities to meet other Squad members.
HK: Now that we are part of the Squad we have learned who we work well with and which roles we are best at. So, as Kacper mentioned, we find a partner who balances us out and takes on other roles that they are better at, then we make a good team.
KG: We are on call and we have our radio on and with us all times. We also receive calls on our cell phones. We put in thirty hours per month. Twelve of those hours are over weekends.
HK: For example, we can be in any building or anywhere when we have to go out on a call. On Christmas Eve, I was on call but I still got to spend time with my family before I had to go out and respond to an emergency.
Michael Tarantino, Director of Bergen County EMS Training Center and long-time Rutherford Ambulance Corps Member and Officer, told TIR, "I think families of EMT's also deserve respect. They have to deal with an EMT's chaotic and unpredictable life. Within my own family, my daughter, Jennifer Capoano, and I are both EMT's and her husband, Craig Capoano, is a Rutherford Police Officer. There are times when we all have all been sitting around the dinner table with my wife Jane Tarantino and have received calls. We've had to leave her there alone with my two grandchildren. Our families have to deal with three a.m. calls and the chance that we might have to leave at any time to deal with an emergency."
TIR: What would you like people to understand about what you do as an EMT?
HK: As an EMT, I don’t see blood and guts all of the time, as many people think. We deal with all kinds of situations. Maybe someone’s Grandma can’t breathe well or we are checking on someone who has passed out or fallen. We don’t always deal with big traumas.
GK: We don’t just drive the ambulance around, we actually administer medical care and we know how to do so properly.
Michael Tarantino explained, “What Hannah and Kacper are not telling you is how much hard work goes into becoming an EMT. They put in over 250 hours of intense training. They have to take many tests and if they fail twice, they are dropped from the program. They did all of this training and studying during their junior years of high school along with all of their schoolwork, college applications, and other extracurricular activities.”
Photo credit: Henry Ersalesi
TIR: Tell us about some of the training you received that those who have not been trained might not realize.
HK: We learn suctioning, which some people don’t think of when they think of what EMTs do. Also, it is important that we have people skills. Sometimes we respond to people who are having panic/ anxiety attacks and we need to know how to handle the patient and his/her family. A family who watches this kind or any kind of emergency needs our help as well. We also take care of pets. We have an Animal Care Kit on the Ambulance. We understand that families are upset when they see that their pets are in distress. Often after a fire, we treat pets for smoke inhalation, etc.
KG: We have to know how to do area management. We have to be able to assess the area and figure out how to take care of those that need medical attention promptly.
Michael Tarantino told TIR, “Another part of the training our EMTs receive now is working with a Rescue Task Force and wearing bulletproof vests. Using money from one of our fund drives, we were able to purchase bulletproof vests. In the event of an active shooting emergency, our EMTs will be protected while working with the Police and Fire departments. The vests that the EMTs wear are marked with EMS on the front and Rutherford Ambulance Corps on the back so that people can distinguish them from the police.”
At this point in the interview, Kacper had to leave to respond to a call, but Hannah carried on and answered the rest of the interview questions.
TIR: Tell us more about the actual Ambulance Corps Station.
HK: There is a bedroom where we can sleep if we are doing overnight shifts. We also have a kitchen so we can make meals while we are here. There is a living room where we can watch TV, play Xbox, hang out, etc.
TIR: What would you like young men and women to understand about becoming a Cadet and then a Squad member?
HK: The work that needs to be put in to become an EMT is rewarding. Don’t get me wrong, it is a lot of work, but the reward is so worth it. Once I received the certificate and plaque and got to wear a stethoscope around my neck, I knew that all that time and effort was worthwhile. I have met so many people and many of us keep in touch. I even keep in touch with some of my instructors. Now that I am part of this team, it is fun and it is not all about paperwork. I really do enjoy it.
“There is a lot of family history here for me. My grandparents, parents, uncles and my daughter, Jennifer Capoano, have all been EMTs here in Rutherford. My Grandfather started the Youth Squad (now Cadets) in 1959. My daughter Jen and I are still part of the Squad,” explained Michael Tarantino. “There are many families here. Husband and wife teams include: Doug and Jane Chadwick, Carol and Neil Kalb, Catherine and Brian O’Keefe. We also have Mark and his dad, John Ellard.”
For more information about the Rutherford First-Aid Ambulance Corps, click here.