For Rebecca Sullivan’s family, emergency medicine is a way of life. It’s where it all started, literally.
Sullivan, a registered nurse in the emergency room at Mercy Health Lorain Hospital, met her husband Matt, a North Ridgeville firefighter and paramedic, in Lorain County Community College’s paramedic program.
“We met in 2009, got married in 2012, and had these crazy kids in 2015,” Sullivan says.
Those crazy kids are twins, Aidan and Harper. And to them, their frontline COVID-19 fighting parents are just doing their jobs.
“They know daddy works on a fire truck and in an ambulance, and mommy works in an emergency room,” Sullivan says.
Emergency medicine has always been Rebecca’s calling. She had just gotten her driver’s license when a serious accident happened in front of her car. Sullivan pulled over to help, keeping pressure on the motorist’s head wound until paramedics arrived.
“One of the paramedics said to me, ‘Wow. You did a really great job. You should think about doing this,’” Sullivan says.
That’s when it clicked. “I felt like emergency medicine was my thing,” she says. “I’ve always taken pride in helping people in urgent need.”
After Sullivan graduated from Elyria High School, she enrolled in LCCC’s nursing program. She earned her State Tested Nursing Assistant license two years later but set aside nursing to earn a certificate as an Emergency Medical Technician, and then as a paramedic. Sullivan spent nearly a decade working as a paramedic for LifeCare Ambulance in Lorain.
“I liked being out in the community,” she says. “Everything about one patient is different from the last. I liked the challenge of having to think things through quickly and being there for someone when they’re truly in their time of need.”
Sullivan enjoyed the challenge and constant change of being a paramedic, but when their children came along, her and her husband’s schedules no longer fit their lives.
“Both of us were working 24-hour shifts, and after we had the twins, our schedules weren’t working for us,” she says. “I had always wanted to go back to nursing school, and I knew it was time.”
Sullivan joined LCCC’s paramedic to RN program, knowing it would give her the flexibility she needed to work part time and raise her children. She also earned credit for prior coursework, saving her time and money. In May 2017 Sullivan graduated from LCCC’s RN program and began working in the emergency room at Mercy.
She was ready for the challenge but didn’t expect to be on the frontlines of a global pandemic within a few years.
“Am I anxious? Yes. But can I handle it? Yeah,” she says. “I’ve been in stressful situations in my job; it’s just something I deal with in my profession.”