“Me time” isn’t high on the priority list for Janna Best, a Network Technician at the 911 Customer Care Center in Piscataway, NJ.
“Janna has been on my team for over eight years,” said Ariel Collazo, E911 Supervisor. “She has very little free time. She literally divides her time between work and volunteering.”
After her day at the customer care center, Janna often starts a shift as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) for the Dunellen Rescue Squad. She and her husband, Jeffrey, have been volunteering there for 20 years.
“We are the old folks in the department,” said Janna. “They actually call us ‘Squad Mom’ and ‘Squad Dad.’”
Janna loves both of her jobs, but when COVID-19 cases began escalating in New Jersey, she knew where she could make the biggest difference. “She asked if she could use her own personal time to do more volunteer work during the COVID-19 crisis,'' said Ariel. “Through communication with Human Resources, we learned there is an option for her to take full-time leave.”
While Janna was already spending many hours volunteering at the squad, the leave will allow her to direct her full focus and attention to her community. “Prior to this, I was on duty from the time I left work at 4 PM until the time I had to get ready for work the following morning at 6 AM,” said Janna. “Now with this leave, I’m able to dedicate myself to the rescue squad and get some rest in between shifts.”
Working in the midst of a global pandemic adds layers of complexity, both literally and figuratively, to the life of an EMT. “Every time we get dispatched for a COVID patient, we have to put on isolation gowns, goggles and P100 masks,” explained Janna. “After we drop the patient off, we have to do about three hours of decontamination of our ambulance.”
“Having Janna full time is amazing,” said John Colby, President of the Dunellen Rescue Squad. “Not only is she able to respond quicker, but she is also able to respond to more of our daily calls. It’s been a blessing to have her.”
“It takes a love of people to do what we do,” said Janna’s husband, Jeffrey, Chief of the Dunellen Rescue Squad. “You really have to care more about someone else than yourself. We may never get to hear the words ‘thank you,’ but we know what houses people are alive in today because of what we’ve done. And that’s amazing. You get to sit back and say ‘We did that.’”
Janice is committed to continue working on the front line of the pandemic. “Despite the risks for myself, I still feel pulled to be out there serving the residents of my community.”