Honoring our Veterans – Military and EMS

The history of the Military and Medicine is a long and heavily traditional one dating back to the Roman Empire. Under the orders of Augustus Caesar, the “medici” were introduced to the Roman Legions. These men were soldiers who were also skilled in treating wounds and infections. It soon became clear  that not only were they extremely effective at keeping the soldiers healthy and preventing disease, but  they also served to boost the morale of the legions.  

Fast forward 2000 years later, and the military and medicine look much different. Technology has changed the landscape dramatically from what it was even 50 years ago, but still many similarities  remain. At the core, it is caring for your fellow human being when they need medical attention and to be  shown kindness. This has not and should not ever change.  

At Covalent Health we recognize the importance of what our veteran employees bring to the job. In terms of skill, reliability, and on the job performance their core values enhance our workplace environments. It is through recognizing this fact that we thought it was necessary to introduce some of our standout employees to the rest of the Covalent Health family so that we can salute them and thank  them for their contributions not only to us, but to our country. 

Matthew Witt

Title: EMT  

Branch: United States Navy  

Rank: E-5 (Aviation Boatswains Mate Equipment)  

Matthew has demonstrated his value at Century Ambulance both as a Skills Instructor and as a CCEMT. His initial desire to work in EMS came from his time in Navy working as a Water Survival  Instructor. After his corpsman left the service, he volunteered to go through the EMT program in order  to fill in the gaps and provide medical support to his team. While training as an EMT he realized that he  really enjoyed it and decided to pursue a career in EMS.  

Looking back at his career in the Navy he feels very fortunate. Matthew’s command allowed  him to attend trainings when he found something that sparked his interests. One such training was SAR MED TECH or MEDEVAC. He would then go on to put those newly acquired skills to use through  volunteering with the local Search and Rescue Team as a scuba diver and medic. His duties on the job  ranged from locating and treating people during natural disasters, to identifying and treating scuba  diving related injuries.  

He describes EMS and the Military as having many similarities. He points out that, everyone who works in EMS is doing so to take care of another human being that in some cases might be having one of  the worst days of their life. It is up to us and our teams to deliver the best possible care that we can  provide and do so with confidence while remaining calm and professional. Staying calm under pressure  is a skill that he acquired the Navy.  

I asked Matthew what his proudest accomplishment so far is, and he said, “While I was in the Navy, I  was teaching a water survival class and a student in full flight gear started displaying early signs of shallow water blackout. I raised concern to the other instructors and before we could get the student  out, he became unconscious. I dove into the pool and recovered the student who roughly 12 feet down  and was able to get him to surface. I dragged him to the side where the other instructors quickly helped me to strip off his gear. I gave the student a firm sternum rub and he awoke without serious injury.  Being able to recognize the early symptoms and get him out of the water quick enough to prevent  drowning gave me a great sense of accomplishment. “  

Alejandro Pedraza

Title: RN-BSN 

Branch: United States Air Force (Active) 

Rank E-6 (Technical Sergeant)  

Working at PRN Ambulance since 2017 Alex is an integral part of the Critical Care Nurse  transport team. After witnessing the tragic events on 9/11 he decided the best way to help people who were deployed and seeing combat action was to choose EMS. Like many Americans serving at that time his strong sense of patriotic duty to do his part rose to new levels that day.  

The training that followed was both physically and mentally intense. As a US Air Force Medic, he also received training from other branches of the service as well. Alex trained with a Navy corpsman at  San Diego Navy Medical Center. He trained with the Marines at Camp Pendleton and with the Army  during Combat Medic training in Iraq. Training tactics like “care under fire” in which medics are required to provide care to injured soldiers on the battlefield while receiving incoming fire taught him how to  handle multiple patients at one time and make the tough decisions that need to be made in combat. These exercises stressed the importance of teamwork and how to function as a well-trained unit in the field. Most importantly they taught him how to maintain focus while performing life saving treatments on the wounded. 

“The military trained us in both aspects of life,” he says, “whether we are operating on or off the battlefield we must maintain professionalism.”  

Alex sees the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians or NREMT as one of the biggest similarities in the military and EMS. Both private EMS agencies and the military use this certification as a requirement to perform the necessary job duties. More similarities are seen in the practices and use of ambulance rigs on military bases globally in which they are required to adhere to local and statewide regulations.  

Rising from an EMT to an RN is what he considers his to be his greatest accomplishment in EMS. He reminds others that, he too started as an EMT with PRN Ambulance and used that knowledge and  training to further his education and become an RN-BSN working for both Kaiser South Bay ER Department and PRN CCT Department. He hopes to inspire anyone that will put in the work, that they too can accomplish their goals through perseverance. 

For his military achievements he only mentions that he is proud to have helped and served alongside men and women in combat where neither your name nor rank matters. Only your actions to help serve each other are what matters.  

Jennifer Garcia

Title: EMT 

Rank: E-4 (Specialist) 

Branch: United States Army 

Jennifer has been with PT-1 for over four years now. Having worked with her directly, I can personally attest to her reliability, on the job knowledge and professionalism. While in the military she wanted to get into the medical field but because there were no openings at the time, she instead found  herself working as a 45B Small Arms and Field Artillery Repairman. Ever since childhood she always had a desire to help others in need because it made her feel good to help people, and she would later  pursue a career in EMS after her career in the military.  

The Army helped prepare her for EMS by teaching her discipline and professionalism. She was also able to take a Combat Life Saving class or (CLS) that taught her how to do things like insert IV’s, nasopharyngeal airways, and place tourniquets while under pressure. CLS is a course designed by the Army to bridge the gap between your average soldier and a combat medic. The skills they learn enable a wounded soldier to survive the first few critical minutes before they can be treated by a trained medical  professional and are often lifesaving.  

When asked about the similarities that she has found with the military and working in EMS, Jennifer’s reply was “They have different uniforms but they both have the same dedication to service. They both train you to work under stressful circumstances and they both teach you to remain calm and  focused when the chaos occurs and how to operate as a team.”  

What is her proudest accomplishment to date? She is proud to have served her country and she is also proud of the skills the military gave her to be successful in EMS.  

We are proud to have both veteran and active military members like these three and many others working with us at Covalent Health. 

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