At just 20 years old, Kaylee Eckert is already an incredibly accomplished EMS provider. She became a National Registry EMT as a sophomore in high school and has spent the past three years volunteering at Goochland County Fire & Rescue Department in a rural community outside of Richmond, Virginia. She’s currently in her sophomore year of nursing school at Longwood University and is one of Goochland’s most recently certified CPR instructors. And there’s more: Eckert also works at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in the Pediatric ED as a care partner, where she also completed a mini emergency medicine fellowship with multiple attending physicians.
THRIVING UNDER PRESSURE
Yes, she’s just as busy as she sounds. “If I’m not in school, my whole life is volunteering and working,” Eckert says. Her résumé is undoubtedly impressive, but what makes EMS so rewarding for Eckert? She admits to thriving under pressure. Early on, she discovered she craves the adrenaline rush she gets from “the critical thinking, quick actions and even the massive amounts of continuing education.”
“It just makes sense when I’m a part of it,” she adds. “I truly cannot imagine what my life would be like without the fire-rescue world.”
LONG RIDES IN THE COUNTRY
With a population of 23,000 spread out over 290 square miles, Goochland County includes some very rural areas. Hospital transport times can vary from five minutes to nearly an hour depending on where in the county you’re coming from. “When you’re 45 minutes away from the nearest hospital, you really need to be able trust your providers,” Eckert says. These long hauls would be daunting to many in EMS, but they are not unusual in Goochland County. “I really like the longer transports,” she explains. “That’s when I get to connect with patients, soothe their worries and build rapport.”
Eckert refers to her peers as her “firehouse family” and considers them her closest friends. In addition to the EMS training and mentorship they have provided, they have also helped her develop life skills that have nothing to do with emergency medicine but are invaluable nonetheless.
“I’ve learned how to do my taxes, apply for loans and even change a car tire,” she says. “The amount of wisdom and perspective that I’ve gained has been life-changing for me. I’m grateful every day for the people I’ve met and the things I’ve seen, because I know it prepares me for life more than any high school or college class.”