Story by Sara Paul
Eileen, Jen and Tammy are close friends, hard-working providers, Warwick residents, and proud single Moms. The super cool, gal pal trio are also Warwick EMS members.
With day jobs, busy schedules, and full-time on-the-go lives, these tenacious women agree that being part of the Warwick EMS provides them with more fulfillment than they give.
Inspired to Serve
Sometimes, life just happens, but for these three, there seemed to be a true calling, a definite purpose for their decision to serve.
Eileen De La Mota had worked in Information Technology for 20 years on Wall St. When she was laid off, she threw herself into volunteerism, whether it was in sports with her kids or with her local church, Good Shepherd Lutheran.
“After my divorce, I needed something new and fresh,” said Eileen, a Brooklyn native, who moved to Warwick in 2006.
“I saw signs advertising the volunteer EMS, and I knew someone in the Corps, so I called and asked if he thought I could do this. He assured me that as a Mom, I could totally do it, and he was right. As a Mom, your instincts kick in, and you know this!” said Eileen, a two-year member, ambulance driver and EMT member, who also works two jobs in Warwick and Chester.
Fellow member Tammy Schuler also felt a void in her life, and after some New Year’s reflections in 2018, she inquired about the volunteer EMS specifics.
“I had free time, and I thought ‘I can do something for me and for other people’,” remembers Tammy, who was born in Lewiston, NY, a small town outside of Niagara Falls, and moved to Warwick at age seven.
Tammy works as an x-ray technician for a private doctor, while retaining her volunteer EMS status.
Jen Frischknecht, a Corps member for more than three years, tragically lost her mom to lung cancer. Jen has public service in her blood as her mom was a registered nurse and great-grandfather was doctor.
“I started brushing up against the folks in here, and it seemed like something I should do,” Jen said, admitting that, “I have a need to take care of people, and if I can make a difference in someone’s life when they’re having an awful day, I want to let them know they are in our hands.”
An EMT for almost two years and a Warwick native, Jen points out that there are patients and also “not actual patients,” meaning family members or loved ones who need consoling and reassurance in that scary moment.
Jen works as a full-time technical project manager with KPMG.
Leading by Example for their Children
Being a mother is not always solely about what one does inside of the house. Certainly, for these ladies, being a good role model in the community in part for their kids as well.
“I always told my kids to always be on their best behavior and to always give back. My mom was a single mom, and she was always so giving. We’re not poor but not rich, so I told my kids that if you can’t give money, give your time,” said Eileen who has four children: Michael, 27, Nicole, 16, Erin, 15, and Sofia, 8.
Nicole is a Junior Corps member, while Eileen is a Junior Corps Advisor and also provides information and education at local schools and special events, like Touch a Truck.
“It’s important to teach little ones to not be afraid of people in uniform as some kids are,” said Eileen.
Tammy is proud that her 12-year-old son, Ayce, is her “biggest fan.”
“When a call comes in, he literally throws my boots at me, and says ‘Just go!’” said Tammy, recalling a day at MetLife stadium when a young woman fainted and Ayce knew just who to call upon.
“My son spotted it and pulled me over. He told me ‘Mom, you’re needed over here!’” Tammy smiles.
Jen experiences similar situations when her daughter, Holly, 13, will quickly alert her EMT mom when a friend is hurt, even if it’s just for a band-aid.
“She sees that I’m walking the walk. I don’t just tell my kids to help, I am actually doing it, too,” said Jen, who also has two sons: Kyle, 19, and Ryan, 18.
Kyle is a former Junior Corps member, Ryan is a member, and Holly looks forward to joining next year, when she is of age.
Life moves pretty quickly, particularly when one has the responsibilities of full-time mom, full-time job, and then racing around in an ambulance in their spare time. Still, there are some cherished moments these members recall, when the world actually seemed to slow down, perhaps even stop.
Eileen tells of a transport ride she was on while still in EMT school. With every bump the ambulance hit, the young man’s excruciating pain seemed to intensify.
“I just held his hand, and said ‘its ok.’ He was squeezing my hand, and he just kept saying ‘thank you Jesus for sending me Miss Eileen.’ It was a short ride, but it felt like forever,” Eileen remembers.
Tammy comments, “When you arrive on the scene, and it’s somebody you know, and they say ‘I’m so glad it’s you’ and it calms them down. We are part of the Warwick community, so you see us in our gear, but you will also see us as moms, dads, coaches and other workers in Warwick and surrounding areas.”
“This gives me a feeling that I’m doing something worthwhile,” Tammy added.
Jen says that when she had something in common with a particularly untrusting elderly woman, who was having dizzy spells, yet refused to go in the ambulance, there was an instant connection.
“I happened to catch her last name and realized I had graduated from high school with her son. I was immediately her best friend ever, I convinced her to go to the hospital, and she wouldn’t let go of me the whole ride,” Jen said.
Importance of EMS Membership
The Warwick Ambulance Corps functions with a small group of dedicated members, and they are always looking for new recruits. Eileen, Tammy and Jen send a very strong message regarding the absolute need for people to volunteer.
“Sadly, there are so many times the pager goes off and no one is available. This service is needed, and I pray to God that if my family needs help that it’s there for them,” Eileen said.
She adds, “We need people who can take a shift. You are trained, you are not expected to be a nurse and you’ll never be in position where you’re not comfortable.”
Tammy reports that the Corps needs volunteers to help on weekdays and also weekends so that other members have time for family without leaving a shift short.
“We have members canceling plans to cover shifts, and taking extra shifts to help provide EMS services to Warwick and the surrounding communities. This extra coverage can lead to burn out and mental fatigue. With more members, the work becomes less,” Tammy said.
Jen states in a serious tone, “When you dial 911, you assume someone will respond… and without volunteers, we can’t respond.”
Anyone interested in joining the Warwick EMS, can call 986-4136, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.warwickems.com, or stop by the Bay at 146 South St. Ext.
Interested individuals are also urged to try the Corps Ride-Along Program to see what the volunteer opportunity entails. Junior Corps members are welcome and must be 14 to 17 years of age or a graduating senior.