EMS roots run deep in NJ family for 3 generations

With eight members of the family working in EMS, they shared what life is like working in the same career


SOUTH JERSEY, N.J. — For the Monaghan’s, EMS is both work and family — literally.

The South Jersey family has been involved with EMS for over 50 years, the Press of Atlantic City reported. It started with Leo and Sadie Haugen, who began their careers volunteering for EMS in Buena Borough. Their two daughters, Sandy Monaghan and Donna Haugen, followed in their parents’ footsteps.

“We were always in the mix, too,” Sandy said. “If there were any functions for the department, we were there, too.”

Sandy has been a paramedic for 25 years after working as an EMT for 10 years. Donna has been a dispatcher for the last 30 years. Both have children who work in EMS as well. Sandy’s children, Erin and Ryan, work as an EMT and paramedic. The EMS family tree continued to grow when they met their spouses, who also work in EMS. 

“Seeing everyone else in my family running the calls, it made me really want to do it,” Erin said.

With eight members of the family working in EMS, the Monaghan’s said they sometimes run into each other during a call.

“Sometimes when we get dispatched, I’ll hear my aunt on the call,” Ryan said. “You just have to act as professional as possible, even if they are family.”

The Monaghan’s said they are used to not spending the holidays together, and that their similar work lives help them cope with tough days. With three generations working in the EMS field, the family discussed encouraging the fourth generation to consider a similar career. 

“It’s something that we’ve both enjoyed and bonded over, so if our future kids grew up and said, ‘This is what I’m interested in,’ we would be happy. We’d at least know how to direct them,” Erin said. 

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