Editor's Note: Lauren Padilla is a volunteer EMT for Princess Anne Courthouse Volunteer Rescue Squad in Virginia. PACHVRS was named the 2019 Volunteer EMS Service of the Year. PACHVRS held an in-house essay contest to determine who would travel to EMS World Expo in New Orleans to accept the award on behalf of the squad. Padilla's essay below was selected as one of the winners.
Who am I without Courthouse? A question I find really hard to answer. But what I can easily answer is who I am with and within Courthouse: Lauren Padilla, proud member of R5 for what seems to be a lot longer than one and a half years. Almost two years ago, even before my student shift at station 21 was over, I knew that Princess Anne Courthouse was the place for me.
Before embarking on this journey, if someone were to ask me why I was joining a volunteer-based EMS system, I would have told them that it was a stepping stone for future plans. But now I realize it's so much more. Princess Anne Courthouse Volunteer Rescue Squad and Fire Department Inc. has provided me a new frontier. Through the dedicated membership and bonds formed, to new experiences I constantly encounter every shift, it only solidifies why joining PACHVRS was the best life-changing decision I've ever made.
Quite often I get asked why I do what I do. Why I work for 12 hours straight (usually more, as you know) for free, or why I willingly volunteer my time away from my family. In reality, I am always around family. I leave my blood-related family and go straight to my rescue family. I never would have imagined that the members at Station 5 would go from complete strangers, to mentors, to colleagues, to friends, to family whom I can’t imagine life without, in just a blink of an eye.
Others don’t quite understand, but having a family that you know wholeheartedly supports you, has your back, and shares the same passions and visions is a feeling that’s incomparable. It’s a feeling that most people spend their whole lives looking for in any job or situation they pursue. I know on every shift, I will be with a partner who shows up with a smile--and not because we have to, not because the money’s good, but because we LOVE to. I simply love showing up, doing the job, and stepping up and helping out with whatever needs to be done. Whether it's becoming the new scheduling officer, filling holes with running extra duties, or participating in various squad and city events, graduations, and standbys, I happily do it with the station's best interest in mind. It only makes me look forward to the new roles and possibilities for improvement and advancement with Rescue 5.
Though still fairly new to the system and to PACHVRS, I have already started to feel aspects of my character change, and for the better. Through the skills I was taught, to the new experiences and challenges faced and overcome, to the lessons learned, it has made me proud of the provider I am today. The amount of joy I get from running duties, being involved in leadership, and attending squad events is like no other.
I feel there are not enough words to describe the true positivity and presence Courthouse has that has led to its countless awards and recognitions, and admirable success in the community, as well as success that I have found within myself. However, words that do come to mind start with the letter ‘F’—Forever Family, Focused, Fearless, and Fun (Fireball). It all makes us #CourthouseStrong and it's why I am excited for growth and for my Future with none other than Princess Anne Courthouse Volunteer Rescue Squad.