At the age of 9, Jacob Goldenberg slipped after a swim practice at Weston Middle School and cracked his head open on a mirror.
“I remember it clearly,” said Jacob, 22, a graduate of Weston High School, “I was bleeding pretty bad.”
His father, Mark Goldenberg, was working in New York at the time, but grabbed an early train and rushed back to Connecticut to be by his son’s side at Norwalk Hospital.
“I walked in and saw his beautifully bandaged head,” said Mark. “The Weston Emergency Medical Service (EMS) was so nice and kind to me, I immediately thought that I’ve got to be a part of this.”
Mark joined the Weston EMS soon after and through the years has risen to become one of the captains of the squad.
Recently Jacob has joined Mark on the Weston EMS team and together they’ve become the first known father-and-son duo to serve together with Weston EMS.
Jacob took an accelerated course in Bridgeport to become certified over the summer of 2014.
“When Jacob was younger I’d always tell him stories and he was always so interested,” said Mark. “Being exposed to it made him interested in doing.”
Jacob agrees with his father, but thinks exposure is only one of the reasons that becoming an emergency medical mechnician (EMT) appealed to him.
“As long as I can remember, it’s been my aspiration to become a physician,” he said. “I really love to help people.” Given his interest in the medical field, his intrinsic desire to help others and his consistent exposure to EMS growing up, Jacob feels that joining the squad was “natural.”
This year Jacob has been on 84 calls, among the highest on the squad. The number is especially impressive considering he graduated from Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y., in May and has been around Weston full-time for only a few months.
“I find it extremely fulfilling,” said Jacob. “Treating people with dignity and in some cases saving lives is a really good feeling.”
His own EMT
Weston EMS takes about 530 calls annually, which Mark said is pretty busy for a town of Weston’s size. He added that the 40-member squad is relatively small compared to those in other towns.
When Jacob began, he said, there was some gentle ribbing from members of Weston EMS about having his father on the squad. On his first calls, he often arrived with his father and the team would ask him whether he ever did anything without his dad.
Since then, Jacob has set out be seen as an excellent EMT, rather than one who lives in the shadow of his father.
“In that setting he isn’t my father, he’s just another EMT,” said Jacob. “I think we work very well together as two EMTs.”
When he’s on a call with his father, Jacob makes sure to address him over the radio as Car 47, the number assigned to Mark’s car, rather than dad.
“That’s a different take than me,” said Mark. “I absolutely see him as my son.”
Mark said the moment Jacob joined the force was one of the proudest moments of his life and as a father. He has enjoyed watching Jacob’s progress as an EMT thus far.
One of their first calls together was a CPR call, which are often seen as among the most challenging types of calls one can go on. Mark remembered the call going extremely smoothly. “We were really doing it right,” he said with a wide grin.
“If I’m on a call with Jacob, I know there won’t be any issues on the call,” said Mark. “I trust him implicitly. If he told me to do something I would never doubt him. I absolutely feel more comfortable with Jacob there.”
Both Mark and Jacob appreciate how volunteering for Weston EMS has brought them closer together. They noted that they don’t have many interests in common outside of EMS, but sharing this experience is really something special for them.
“It’s something to talk about together,” said Jacob. “I’m not just listening to his stories anymore, I’m living them.”
Mark, a Weston resident for 21 years, has been a licensed chiropractic neurologist for 30 years and currently owns Brain Balance, an organization that works with children who have learning or behavioral issues, in Norwalk. He is currently a night captain for Weston EMS and consistently works 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shifts on Fridays.
While Jacob doesn’t plan to follow his father’s career exactly, he is looking to go to medical school in a few years, but he hasn’t quite decided the path he wants to follow.
Jacob studied biology at Manhattanville, and minored in psychology and scientific writing, a path he designed specifically for himself. He is currently taking a few courses at UConn Stamford to finish some prerequisites before applying to medical schools.
For now Jacob is home and making money through tutoring, but he devotes a lot of his time to Weston EMS. He said he loves the “controlled chaos” of being on a call as an EMT.
The more intense the situation, the calmer I am. I always feel so good after a call,” Jacob said, smiling. “I just can’t get enough of it.”