Ricky Ruiz likes to be in the middle of emergencies — and as an EKG Technician in LVMC’s Cardiopulmonary Department he gets that chance. As an EKG technician, he works in every clinical department, spending most of his time in the Emergency Department.

“I like being in the middle of emergencies,” he said. “I am a fan of puzzles. A lot of this is solving tasks, resolving things, using resources to help me figure things out.” As he goes throughout the hospital, it is interacting with patients that he enjoys the most.

“I’m here to help them, not just get a paycheck,” Ricky says. “Everyone’s having a hard time. I try to be the best person I can be and calm people down. That’s rewarding.”

Ricky began working at LVMC in 2010, hired into the Environmental Services Department as a technician. He’d already finished two years at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in pursuit of his Bachelor of Science degree in biology. But he admits to not being prepared for the pace of university life, and he came home to take courses at Allan Hancock College while exploring various other possible majors.

While working part-time in EVS distributing hospital laundry and supplying clean linens, he took college courses. His then-boss, Deanna Hall, worked with him on balancing his work schedule with school.

“Working at the hospital, I built confidence,” he said. “I thought I should finish what I started (at Cal Poly). All doubts of being a failure disappeared. I put my faith in God and kept going.”

He received his bachelor’s degree in 2016 from Cal Poly. He credits his parents, Rosa Lopez and Ramiro Ruiz, for their support. “My parents shaped me,” he says. “Without my parents, I wouldn’t be here.”

He realizes he has a level of intelligence, but achieving his dream of a degree took more than just being smart. “I put in a lot of effort to do what I do and I worked hard and got rewarded,” says the 2008 Cabrillo High School graduate. “Put in the work and you’ll be successful.”

Ricky, who plays the alto saxophone, recalls being asked to be the drum major at Cabrillo. He did it despite initial misgivings. “The little things in life helped build me up,” he notes.

For two years, he’s worked as an EKG technician, guided and mentored by Director Mark Hadley. “I feel I’ve grown a lot as a person,” Ricky explains. “I feel more confident. I like the responsibilities that my boss, Mark, gives me. It’s nice knowing the efforts I put into the job show.”

In the future, he’s considering a path that would lead to becoming an Ultrasound technician. He’s also considering becoming a Clinical Laboratory Scientist. “I have many interests,” he says, adding that he enjoys organic chemistry and microbiology.

“It feels nice to give back to the community you grew up in,” says Ricky, who was born at the former Lompoc Hospital site. “It’s a rewarding experience. I do like helping people so I like the position I’m in, comforting people. I want to be the best person I can be to help people out.”