Caleb Fields and Kelsey Hottle, both members of Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad, knew they wanted to be police officers. With a stepfather in law enforcement, Caleb was an EMT before graduating high school. Kelsey’s passion for public safety also started in her teens. But both prepared for their careers by first joining Virginia Beach’s volunteer EMS system.
“I wasn’t old enough to apply for the police academy, so I decided to get some experience under my belt through the rescue squads,” says Caleb, who moved to Virginia Beach (from Richmond) and became a volunteer in 2008. After achieving his “EMT-Intermediate” certification, he was accepted into the 59th Virginia Beach Basic Police Academy and graduated in July of this year.
“My experience as an EMS volunteer definitely gave me a leg up,” he explained. “Not necessarily on the medical side but more so with my knowledge of their communications practices, vehicle operations and how to interact with the public in difficult situations.”
Kelsey joined VBVRS in 2011 while working toward her degree in criminal justice at Virginia Wesleyan College. “It was totally different from anything I’d ever done, but it was exciting – the lights and sirens, the hot calls – I still love the adrenaline rush.”
Kelsey joined and graduated from the police academy (57th Virginia Beach Basic) in 2014. For both, running duties as volunteer EMS providers and police officers can be advantageous and a little challenging.
“When I’m on the ambulance now, I look at things differently, and I’m sometimes able to provide information I know police will be looking for,” Kelsey says. “But it’s important to separate the two so I can effectively play the role I’m there to perform.”
They agree it’s sometimes difficult to take a step back when arriving on scene as a police officer and medical help is needed. “But in those situations, you have to let the EMTs do their jobs,” adds Caleb.
As for volunteering, Caleb and Kelsey plan to continue their duties with VBVRS, even now that they are settled in their law enforcement careers.
“I worked too hard for my EMT certification to let it go!” says Caleb.
And for Kelsey, VBVRS has become a second family. “I joined because it was a fun way to give back to the community, but I’m staying for the people.”