Up Close & Personal with
“Always Ready, Always There!” – Alicia is the personification of the well-known motto of The National Guard.
At the National Guard, Alicia trained as a flight medic to take care of injured soldiers, prepared to tackle challenges, and to address the healthcare needs of civilians after natural disasters or civil emergencies. Back from Iraq in 2008, she graduated with a BA of Science Nursing from Thomas Jefferson University in 2011, and from Eastern University in 2016 with an MBA in Health Administration.
A full-time member of the National Guard for the past 15 years, Alicia was intent on putting her skills to work during the weekends and the position of Weekend Nursing Supervisor at Gwynedd seemed like the perfect fit. Extensively trained to be the first line of defense against injuries and illnesses suffered by the soldiers, Alicia is qualified with a wide set of nursing skills to provide immediate emergency care, ongoing care, and every kind of support needed to restore wellbeing.
Originally from Trinidad, she came to the US at age 14. In need of a college education – but with no idea how to pay for it – upon a friend’s suggestion she looked into the options offered by the military. She recalls how she wanted to be part of an organization that cares for their people, in addition to accessing the education benefits:
I was 27, married with two children ages 6 & 7, and I found the National Guard was very accommodating and family supportive. As I joined, my husband cared for the children, my mom helped too, and even my dad came from Trinidad to help – family support was crucial. I joined in July of 2001, then 9/11 happened and the importance of the military dawned on me. My whole mindset changed from wanting to be taken care of (in terms of getting my college education paid for) to caring for others. It was a year of BIG changes in me. The National Guard’s basic training teaches you integrity, discipline, and service before self. It gives you a foundation for life. Personally, it made me very goal oriented – because you are immersed in an environment where everyone around you is growing and moving forward. After her rookie year, Alicia was called in to address the health care needs of civilians after natural disasters. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina she spent six weeks in New Orleans providing medical care, and restoring order. Then Hurricane Sandy hit and she was called into service again.”Recalling one memorable story, Alicia shares:
In 2007, I was deployed as a flight medic and had to provide emergency life-saving aid to a badly injured Marine. He was taken off the war zone and immediately brought to Bagdad, our closest medical post; from there, we had to fly him to Germany to stabilize him. Throughout the 5-hour flight, he was in and out of consciousness and it was imperative to keep him awake to prevent him from slipping into a comma or worse – so I kept talking to him non-stop for 5 hours straight! In Germany he received emergency medical care and, after he was stabilized, he was sent to San Antonio, Texas for rehabilitation.
He was a young Marine and I often wondered how he was doing. That year, I was scheduled for the next level of my training – and it was taking place in San Antonio. I just had to go to the hospital where he was in rehab to look for him. As I entered the rehab unit and mentioned his name to the therapists, a young guy broke down crying. It was him! All he kept saying was “I recognized your voice. I will ALWAYS recognize your voice. Your voice kept me awake. You kept me alive!”
The National Guard instructs us to take a path with purpose, to be part of something bigger than ourselves and, clearly, my position at Gwynedd allows me to fulfill that deeply ingrained discipline – for what bigger purpose can there be than assuring the wellbeing of the infirm, and the vulnerable? And in terms of ‘something bigger than ourselves’…well, it doesn’t get any better than my job at Gwynedd!