Village's newest firefighter is happy to be 'one of the gang'
Last updated 10/9/2019 at 8:06pm | View PDF
Nicole Hladik wasn't sure of her career path after earning a degree in business management in 2016. She just knew the 9-to-5 office life was not her destination.
"I had no idea what I wanted to do," Hladik said.
Then a family acquaintance suggested a ride-along with a female firefighter she knew in Broadview. One ride led to another and eventually carried Hladik onto her new career path.
"I was sold," she said, recounting calls to help a young man with his trach tube and extinguish a small electrical fire. Above all she was impressed with the caliber of the responders.
"Just the way the guys and girls were right on the spot to help people, I was in awe," she said.
On Sept. 17, Hladik was sworn in as Hinsdale's newest firefighter/paramedic, with a large contingent of the department on hand to show their support.
"Everyone's been really welcoming, all the chiefs and officers are super nice," she said.
After receiving her paramedic license from the Edward Hospital Paramedic Program, she worked for Ridge Ambulance and was a paid on-call firefighter/paramedic for the Western Springs Fire Department. Hladik's appointment made her the only woman on Hinsdale's force. Being in such a position doesn't bother her, though, since she's discovered that camaraderie comes first.
"I never felt like I was being treated any differently or anything. I think I was just blessed to be in those nice environments," she said. "The whole environment - everyone's got each other's backs. Whether it's a guy or girl doesn't matter, as long as they can do the job."
A runner in high school and a self-described tomboy growing up, Hladik said the physical requirements of the job are good motivation to keep in shape.
"I can't imagine sitting at a desk. I've always liked moving around, a more physical job," she said, noting she made extra money in college working at a warehouse. "I've always gravitated toward more physical jobs."
Readiness is also critical, Hladik has learned.
"The best advice I've gotten was, 'Treat every false alarm like the real thing,' " Hladik said. "You might get a call for a fire alarm and think it's just a faulty detector. Then you show up and it's a (real fire). Complacency is the worst enemy."
That was reinforced when responding to a report of a sick resident. The team arrived and talked with the lady when she suddenly went into cardiac arrest. The complexion of the situation had completely changed, and they were prepared.
"It was a full arrest where we got the lady back, which was great," she said.
Hladik feels fortunate to have this opportunity in this community.
"I've heard that getting hired (in Hinsdale) is like winning the lottery. If I could make a nice long career here, that would be amazing," she said. "It's nice finally knowing exactly what you want to do. I'm just grateful to be here."