Nursing Student Works as EMT During Pandemic

When Seton Hill moved all classes online in March 2020 in response to the pandemic, nursing student and part-time EMT Juliane Tomasic shifted to full-time hours at an ambulance company based near campus.

Working on a Mutual Aid Ambulance Service crew, she transports COVID-19 patients and responds to typical calls - dialysis patients, accident victims, nursing home residents – with the same precautions.

“Whether it’s a COVID call or any 911 call, you prepare as if the virus might be present,” Tomasic said.

For an EMT, a steady PPE supply and regular decontamination is crucial, she said.

“Ever since I could remember, I wanted to work in trauma and focus on helping people.”

“We were issued four N95s and four K95s, goggles, a plastic face shield, uniforms, rain ponchos with hoods. We go through so much PPE on a daily basis. After every COVID patient, we had to return to the facility, take off our PPE, shower, put the PPE in a washer so it was ready for next time, and disinfect our masks,” she said, noting that she wears triple gloves and adds a surgical mask over her N95.

“I honestly did feel protected,” said Tomasic, who is also a volunteer firefighter. “I trust medical professionals. As long as I’m listening to their advice on what I should do to protect myself from COVID, I’m fine.”

School openings in August triggered a surge in cases and 911 calls. By then, Mutual Aid had modified protocols and added equipment. Crews are now allowed 40 minutes to decontaminate. 

“With more 911 calls, we have to keep the ball rolling and be as fast and efficient as we can,” said Tomasic, who passed the EMT certification exam at age 17.

“Ever since I could remember, I wanted to work in trauma and focus on helping people,” she said. “I wanted to become an ER physician, but hands-on learning is where I really succeeded.”

She looks forward to nursing practicums and plans to work with an ambulance crew after certification as a Pre-Hospital RN.

Juliane’s story first appeared in the “On The Frontlines” article featured in the alumni magazine Forward. View the digital version of Forward here.