Laylonni Jaramillo is no stranger to the healthcare field. A daughter of a nurse, she knows how to use a stethoscope and check oxygen levels. She can tell when her grandmother is nearing hypoglycemic shock, delivering a glass of pineapple juice to restore her glucose levels.
But even with this experience, launching a career in healthcare hasn’t been easy for the Thornton native. She originally started a physical therapy program but lost interest in the subject. Then, one night changed everything.
“I was asleep, and suddenly I heard my mom in a panicked voice calling my grandma’s name,” she said. “I remember getting up from my bed and just sprinting to the living room where she was. I started monitoring my grandmother’s heart rate and her oxygen saturation.”
The pair quickly realized this was not a normal episode. Her mother started administering CPR while Jaramillo’s father called 911. When the first responders took over, Jaramillo was struck by their efficiency.
“I remember taking a step back and watching all of them work—how calm they were,” Jaramillo said.
Although the medics weren’t able to save her grandmother that day, Jaramillo found the spark she needed, turning tragedy into a determination to give back.
“She is the reason why I chose to become a first responder, because that’s exactly how I want to react to stressful situations. I want to be successful for other people in their time of need,” she said.
I wasn’t sure if EMT was the right path for me, but two instructors really helped me gain that confidence. The advice they always gave me was, ‘You’ve studied this, and now you need to just go do it.’” – Laylonni Jaramillo
Months after her grandmother’s passing, Jaramillo applied to several Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) programs and landed a spot at Front Range Community College’s Boulder campus. She instantly bonded with her classmates and relished the scenarios and activities.
“Every morning, they would give us about 15 minutes to get three separate people’s vitals. After we finished, they would tell us that we should be getting a full set of vitals in less than a minute and a half!” she said with a grin.
The program drilled effective communications skills, too—key for working as a team in fast-moving situations. And beyond competencies, Jaramillo learned to trust her training.
“I wasn’t sure if EMT was the right path for me, but two instructors really helped me gain that confidence,” she said. “The advice they always gave me was, ‘You’ve studied this, and now you need to just go do it.’”
Jaramillo also got a boost from the Care Forward Colorado program, which provides zero-cost training pathways for entry-level healthcare positions like EMTs and phlebotomists. So far, the Colorado Community College System has graduated more than 1,000 Care Forward students—including Jaramillo—with another 1,000 enrolled this semester.
“The funding covered my classes, my uniform, my books—everything,” Jaramillo said. “I was very relieved. I didn’t have to worry.”
Shortly after completing her program, Jaramillo began applying for jobs with ambulances and, after a rigorous interview process, received an offer from American Medical Response in Greeley.
Jaramillo had one more hurdle standing in her way: a physical exam. She passed, and though sore from lifting hospital beds and sprinting up stairs, she couldn’t contain her excitement to start on April 3.
“Meeting my potential co-workers, I was like, ‘Wow, they gave me an opportunity,’ she said. “Even the Governor’s Office, they see something in me that’s been hard to see in myself. I’m coming to realize who I am and what I have to offer.”