In April 2013 Esthela Ortiz, of San Leon, decided to fulfill her lifelong desire to be a firefighter by joining the San Leon Volunteer Fire Department.

She had no experience, but she’d recently quit her job to stay home with her two children, now 3 and 6, so she felt the timing was right.

“You can come in with no background at all, and they train you in a new member academy in first aid, CPR and more,” said Ortiz. “Then I wanted to learn more.”

She enrolled in the COM EMT-Basic Program, squeezing her 24 hours of clinical time into weekends when her husband was home to watch their children.

Now a certified emergency medical technician-basic, she often volunteers in the middle of the night when her children are asleep.

“Sometimes it’s maybe one to two calls per night, a structural fire, vehicle accidents or grass fires, which are very common in San Leon, and medical calls,” said Ortiz. “Whatever type of call, you have to assess your patient. If you get there early enough, you can save someone."

She plans to earn an emergency medical technician - intermediate certification when her youngest enters preschool, maybe advancing eventually to paramedic certification.

“Since she came to COM and earned her EMT-basic certificate, she’s taken a leadership role. We take turns leading on calls,” said R.E. Davis, San Leon firefighter and COM professor. “She’s taken on a role of training younger and less experienced volunteers.”

Ortiz revels in serving the community.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s rewarding,” said Ortiz. "It looks challenging but if you enjoy it, it’s doable.”

For more information on the COM EMT Program, visit