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July 26, 2018

How to Hire Heroes: Interview with Miguel Marshall of the Central Park Medical Unit

hiring heroes

Looking for talent that won’t buckle under pressure? See how the Central Park Medical Unit hires real-life heroes.

Back when he was pushing paper as a paralegal, Miguel dreamed of working with people, face-to-face. “I just wasn’t satisfied working primarily with paper and not fulfillingly with human beings. Nothing against law. Attorneys and legal professionals definitely serve humanity, but I wanted to serve people in a more direct way.”

As Membership Coordinator and Active Member of the Central Park Medical Unit ambulance corps, Miguel and his team of fearless EMTs (all volunteers!) know the geography of the entire 843-acre landscape like the back of their hands.

If you’re sick or injured, they can reach you in an average of just 3 minutes.

The Central Park Medical Unit, or CPMU, is all-volunteer. It has never charged a single penny for transporting patients. “I always wanted to help people and to be in uniformed service so I did the training. Still, it was a leap.”

Not a job for the faint of heart

While each member feels privileged to work for Manhattan’s only all-volunteer ambulance corps that serves all populations (not just the select few from certain hospitals or districts), volunteering for the CPMU is a BIG commitment.

miguel marshall

After all, navigating one of New York’s City’s busiest terrain while delivering potentially life-saving medical treatment from the back of a moving vehicle and deliver the patient safely to a hospital is no job for the timid.

A decade in, Miguel is now charged with the task of recruiting and selecting top-shelf volunteers who are up to the challenge. Let’s dive in and see how he does it.

What was your recruitment process like in the pre-Breezy days? How did you know it was time for a change?

We’re all volunteers. We get people from law, medicine, business, students — people from all areas and professions and I knew we needed to reform our recruitment process to make it easy for them. Until recently, we were using a Google form because it’s free. But the challenge is nothing’s integrated and if you want a better candidate experience, you need something that’s at industry level.

We looked at other survey platforms, did some trials and they were fine but there were bugs and certain limitations and also, at the end of the day, it was just another form and not an actual system. We also looked at other HR solutions but they were too heavy. It’s been mainly Google and an email system but if you’re a volunteer, it’s just too many emails — piecemeal emails, forms for this, forms for that. There’s no way to track. Breezy enables us to never miss a candidate.

Our volunteers are current and former members of law enforcement, fire department, military and medical professionals, very admirable people. These people are going to be put in front of people who are in dire straits, they need to be good.

But before Breezy, many were falling through the cracks. We also had many successes bringing in the right people, but there were a couple situations where we thought, “Oh my gosh, how could we have overlooked this person for a year?”. Now our motto is, “Leave no applicant behind”.

Why is it important for you to create an awesome experience for candidates?

Even though we’re a non-profit, the idea of an employer brand still applies. In some ways, our outward appearance is due to the experience people have had when applying with us.

central park medical unit

People in the EMS community say it’s a long process. It takes a long time to become a certified EMT. But on the other side, we’re an ambulance organization and as a service organization, we can’t afford to have an overwhelming process where some people don’t get a response for up to 15 months. Now when a candidate applies, they upload their docs and we’re able to share the profile with the review committee and score-card them together.

What’s the impact on the hiring team?

Our review committee is made up of people who are working full time and are taking time out of their busy schedules to review potential volunteers.

You can easily get overwhelmed with all the emails and communication involved but with Breezy it’s so easy. I can type in “Ma” and a member of the review committee Mark comes right up. I can create a task for him and it’s done and even exchange notes about an applicant. You just want to know that things are going well and that they’re taken care of, not only for our patients but also for our applicants.

At the very least we want to say thank you for your application. I think we owe people that. It’d be very challenging for us to do that (with 100% consistency) without a system like Breezy.

How much time would you say that Breezy saves you overall (pre-Breezy vs. now)?

For us, it’s really about the integrated experience.

The fact that you have these automatic reference checks, the fact that there’s an application that’s easily doable, the fact that we can use scorecards and move candidates through a visual pipeline.

central park medical unit

Without all these features, this could almost amount to a paid part-time position. But as an all-volunteer non-profit, we would never have the funding to hire someone. It still takes time to do things we used to do, but Breezy makes that time more efficient. There’s the trust factor and a degree of certainty in knowing that you’re not missing anyone. And of course, we save a ton of time compared to managing forms and collaborating by and searching through emails alone.

What are your favorite insider tips for engaging potential candidates?

I like the feature you just released with the automatic follow-ups.

It’s a great thing because again, there are times when I’ve just not been able to get to people within a week because of my own schedule. We know how important it is to keep in touch with candidates so they are confident their application didn’t go into a black hole. In many ways, it’s a godsend to have people willing to provide their time to apply to CPMU. We need to show our appreciation for that, and prevent them from giving up on the process, by keeping in touch with them.

Do you have any personal passions or side projects most people might not know about?

Most of my hobbies have turned into a passion.

In addition to my role with the CPMU, I’m also a school health and wellness consultant. I have full-time responsibilities and weekend responsibilities. I like that Breezy makes it possible to take a block of time, an hour or an hour and a half, to make this work.

How we manage our time definitely impacts our team camaraderie, which translates to the way we serve our patients. Breezy is honestly a part of that.