KENILWORTH, NJ – Due to the global pandemic of coronavirus there has been a higher influx of EMS calls and a limited amount of manpower at the Kenilworth Firehouse. Five women who are EMT’s have been covering the town around the clock 24/7. Three of them are even living together at the firehouse to ensure that they can have the quickest response time possible to serve Kenilworth residents. Their hard work and dedication to an unpaid volunteer position is remarkable while their comradery and uplifting personalities keep up the Kenilworth spirit. When you call 911 it is more than likely that one of these five women will be at the Fire House along with the firemen. All the firefighters have also been incredibly helpful and supportive during these tough times.
Their shifts are typically 12 hours a day, sometimes 24 hours long. Because of the lengthy hours EMT’s Dani Mauro, Kiara A, and Colleen S have been temporarily staying overnight at the firehouse in between calls. They have been spending so much time there, the ladies decided to make space more their own to feel “homey.” They hung twinkly string lights around the TV and entrance and also included flowers and candles to their new dorm room. In between calls you can find the ladies wearing facemasks while completing their charts or working on homework. There is even a flag that says “Saturdays are for the Girls” as the rescue squad is driven by a strong pack of women EMTs. Mauro articulated, “Being a healthcare worker throughout this pandemic can be stressful and at times intimidating, but it has been really encouraging to have this space become our own and to stay with people who understand what you’re going through. Kenilworth is such an amazing community that pulls through for all first responders. We are so grateful for all the kind donations and expressions of appreciation we have received. The support from our girls and our small little hometown is what keeps us going.”
Laura C, Captain
Laura joined the Kenilworth Rescue Squad back in 2016, and has climbed up in the chain of command from lieutenant to captain. “Kenilworth Rescue has become my home. It is where I met my (almost) husband, where I have learned skills that would help me in my nursing career, and make friendships that will last a lifetime. At the start of this pandemic I was anxious as to what would lie ahead for my Squad, and let me tell you, I couldn’t be prouder of the way each and every member has stepped up and made sure the community was cared for.” Laura says for most people it’s not easy to say that they're willing to walk into a stranger's home especially with COVID-19. However, she emphasized, “these amazing EMT's charge in head first (with appropriate protective equipment of course) and provide the best care possible, whether it's transporting patients to the hospital or comforting a family member who's just lost their loved one to this deadly virus. “
Liz T, Acting Lieutenant
Liz has been on the Kenilworth Rescue Squad for about two years and says she has found such an amazing community and extended family in the department. “I joined the department because my husband is a firefighter and as a nurse, I thought what better way to give back than by volunteering on the ambulance.” A lot has changed for Liz in the two short years she has been a member of the department. She was promoted to acting lieutenant on the department and started her family riding actively until she was six months pregnant. “I have developed some of the most rewarding and incredible friendships with people that I met through the Kenilworth Fire Department and Rescue Squad. Facing this new health crisis on the front lines has not been an easy challenge but I am so unbelievably proud of our squad and the personal sacrifices we have all made to rise to the challenge and do what we are all passionate about- helping the community.”
Kiara A, EMT, Nursing Student
Kiara joined the squad in August 2018 and says she is very excited that her two-year anniversary is coming up. “In my almost two years of riding for Kenilworth, a lot of people ask if I get paid and I always have to remind them that our little town is a volunteer department. Anyone that you see with a KFD label is giving up their time for nothing in return and I think that says a lot. I love that I get to help people when they need it the most.” Kiara loves that she has the ability to gain new experiences through riding on the ambulance, and this makes her even more excited for when she becomes a nurse. At the moment she is junior at Rutgers University studying to get her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. “Riding during the pandemic has been a little difficult because of the changes in PPE. I’m still not fully used to wearing the N-95 for an entire duration of a call, and gowning up. But in order for me to continue helping out it’s something I know I have to do."
Colleen S, EMT, Nursing Student
Colleen has been on the rescue squad for three years having joined on her 20th birthday. She started out with her Associates Degree in Health Sciences and then decided to pursue her EMT certification. “I absolutely fell in love with caring for people that I decided to go to nursing school.” Currently, Colleen is in an accelerated full-time BSN program. She also works a few other jobs, one at a local hospital, and rides full time on the Rescue Squad. “I guess you can say I like to keep myself busy. I am always looking for ways to do better whether through a job or training. I truly love what I do and the girls I ride with especially in such trying times make me love it even more. We work as a team and make the best out of every call.”
Dani Mauro EMT, Student
Dani has been a Kenilworth resident her whole life just like her mother Donna Mauro. Her family has strong roots with the Kenilworth Fire Department and Rescue Squad. She is a third-generation member of the department. Dani joined the department in 2016, when she was a senior in high school and enthusiastically stated, “I have been riding the ambulance ever since.” This May she will be virtually graduating with degrees in Elementary Education and Psychology from The College of New Jersey. Dani was supposed to stay at college throughout the rest of the semester ending in May but wanted to come home to help the Rescue Squad in these challenging times.
The women also wanted to recognize Annette L, EMT, who also responds to the majority of the calls and COVID-19 cases.