‘Nobody’s Dying Today’
Nursing assistant Katelyn Losquadro stopped to help an injured driver of a single-car accident. That decision changed both of their lives.
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This wasn't the first time that Losquadro had stopped at the scene of an accident. At 18, she was driving in her hometown of Kresgeville, Pennsylvania, when she came upon a young woman who’d driven into a tree. She stayed with the driver until help arrived. A few years later, on her way to a fundraiser for her mother’s funeral, Losquadro came across an overturned car in a ditch. She pulled over and helped the passengers out of the vehicle. Since Gault’s accident, she says, she keeps trauma shears and tourniquets in her car.
“I’ve been through so much trauma that stuff like this doesn’t bother me,” she says. “I can handle the situation—it’s just like a weird calling.”
Katelyn Losquadro was approaching the I-495/I-270 split in January 2017 when she saw a car that had careened head-on into a guardrail.
Losquadro, now 27, had little schooling to prepare her for an emergency like Gault’s, but she had a lifetime of experience. When she was 7, she says, her mother, a nurse, taught her to don gloves and help treat the incision from her grandmother’s hysterectomy. “From that moment on, I was like, OK, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” Losquadro says. “I wanted to be a singer when I was a little girl, but other than that it was always nursing. My mom definitely planted that seed in my head.”
Her father, a correctional officer, and her mother had both been chronically ill while Losquadro was growing up in the Poconos. Like many in her town, her family didn’t have much money. Her parents often fought, and while she became close with her mother, she describes strained relations with her father and brother.
She helped care for both of her parents, repositioning them in bed when they couldn’t move, administering medication, and working with oxygen machines, nebulizers and mechanical lifts. After her father suffered a heart attack, Losquadro dropped out of high school to be with him. Her mother had multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia, and when she developed lung cancer, Losquadro cared for her through her time in hospice. In debt and facing foreclosure, the family avoided eviction only because of laws that protect the seriously ill, she says. “We had pancakes four nights a week,” Losquadro says. “Coming from living poor and watching my mom struggle between medication and food, it makes me want to take care of people even more.”
Losquadro was 21 when her parents died within a month of each other. With both gone, she says, she was forced out of the house with no close family nearby. Her upbringing has given her a no-nonsense, up-by-her-bootstraps mentality. She can be funny, sentimental and compassionate, but her speech is often frank, blunt and detached, whether she’s talking about the traumas she’s witnessed or those she’s lived through. She has brown hair that she sometimes dyes red, wears darkframed glasses and sometimes sports a nose ring. She describes her approach to life as a sort of emergency room triage. “I know what I want,” she says, “and I know what I don’t want.”
After the deaths of her parents, Losquadro moved to Montgomery County to live with an aunt in Wheaton, but she says that soured when her aunt disapproved of her taking in the D.C. nightlife. Losquadro set out on her own, bouncing from Clarksburg to Poolesville to her apartment in Montgomery Village. It’s a small place, rented from the family who lives upstairs, but to Losquadro it feels like success. “I made the decision to better my life and move,” she says. “Where I’m from in Pennsylvania, I’ll be honest with you, either you get pregnant, you go to jail or you die of drugs.”
She waitressed for a while at The Limerick Pub in Wheaton, got her GED diploma, and in 2016 started nursing school at Montgomery College in Rockville before getting a job as a nursing assistant at Brookdale. The job wasn’t easy, she says. She spent a lot of time helping incontinent adults and endured verbal abuse from disoriented dementia patients. Losquadro had applied for a job in the emergency room at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center in Rockville, but says she was told she lacked hospital experience. Brookdale wasn’t the trauma nursing job she’d dreamed of, but at least she was caring for people.