Dealing with her own medical issues inspired her to help others
South Branch Emergency Services Operations Lieutenant Jessica Bartelloni’s desire to help people who are sick or injured grew from her own life experiences.
“I had an undiagnosed autoimmune issue for much of my life. Once when I was really sick, somebody in the back of the ambulance looked at me and said, ‘If you can’t get through every second of every day, just get through right now,’” she remembered. “They helped me understand that as rough as it was, it would get better. And I wanted to be that person for somebody else.”
Jessica, who is now 23, began her EMS career as a 16-year-old cadet volunteer at Cedar Knolls First Aid Squad in Morris County, where she grew up. She has since served as both a career and volunteer EMT for several squads. SBES hired Jessica as a per diem EMT in 2022. She became Operations Lieutenant on February 1, 2023.
In addition to her responsibilities as a frontline supervisor and EMT, Jessica helps to recruit new SBES volunteers and then shows them the ropes. She helps with new member orientation and often accompanies them on their first ambulance runs. “Volunteering is really important – it’s a way to give back to your community and get involved with it,” said Jessica, who continues to serve as a volunteer EMT with Florham Park Memorial First Aid Squad.
While still in high school, Jessica created a charity that assembled care packages for children with cancer as her senior service project. That’s when she discovered her love of paperwork, fundraising, and community events – all also part of her SBES duties. “This job brings so many of my interests together,” she said.
Despite those many interests and skill sets, the heart of what Jessica does often comes down to extending her own heart to someone who is scared, hurting, or both. She won’t ever forget what it’s like to be the one in that situation.
“There were times when people who never had any health problems didn’t understand what I was going through, and I felt like nobody believed me,” she said. “Because I went through that, I think I’m more understanding, and more patient.”
When she’s not at The Squad, Jessica, who lives in Oxford, enjoys crafting with her Cricut machine and spending time with her family and her boyfriend – South Branch EMT & Rescue Associate Andrew Rudd.
She encourages anyone with a passion for helping others to consider becoming a volunteer or career EMT with SBES. “We’re very organized, and it’s a big organization with a large coverage area – you will work with a lot of great people and have a lot of different experiences here.”
SBES needs both career and volunteer EMTs. There are many ways to serve, and gear and training – provided right at the SBES Training Center – is free to members. To learn more, visit www.sbes.org