Spotlight on Women
Meghan McCool, CARE Medical Transportation, MedFirst Inc. Founder
Meghan McCool | Photo by Found Creative Studio
How did you get your start?
I graduated from Georgetown University with a nursing degree. Initially I wanted to major in journalism and be a foreign correspondent, but at the age of 20, I was told I needed a trade. So I went to nursing school. A friend had a retail business, and she wanted me to work with her when I graduated. My dad told me he didn’t send me to Georgetown to work in retail. So, at 21 my first job in nursing was working on the floor with HIV patients. That was in 1996 in Washington, D.C. I fell in love with nursing at that time.
What brought you to San Diego?
I met my husband in Washington, D.C. He was a fighter pilot and was transferred to San Antonio. Our first child was born with a rare genetic disorder. I was told to give him up because he needed something more than we could give him. So my husband left the military and went to work for airlines. That was the same day as 9/11. We moved to California with Southwest Airlines. I worked nights while my husband was flying so that one of us could be with our son.
What was your next job?
I met transporters and started working with CARE. Then I applied for a job as night nurse and transporter and was hired. Within the first month I figured out what needed to be done, and after six months, the owner called me in and told me I was special and I needed to run my own business. So I founded MedFirst and continued working with CARE. I am the only female executive of an ambulance company.
Was your husband supportive when you started your business?
Well, it was kind of like “good luck with your little lemonade stand.” In the beginning it was just three nurses and me. I saw a niche, and it has exploded. Now we have 100 employees. This is a 24-hour business. As a matter of fact, I worked all night last night and have not been to bed. Even when I am not in the ambulance, there is something different every day.
Did you have a mentor?
Kevin Carlisle was the owner of CARE, and he has been my mentor.
Do you have a mentoring program for your employees?
We don’t have a defined program, but I am in the ambulance a lot of the time each week, and coach employees in real-time situations and changes. I help them with clinical matters and the business as well as life coaching.
How do you manage family and work?
Our son is now 14, plus we have two other children. My husband has a work schedule that allows him to be at home a lot of the time. We are global, and we know our son can never live alone. Our marriage has required flexibility. I think finding my voice has helped me to manage our marriage.
How do you give back to help others?
I am a West Coast rep for Georgetown University admissions. I interview prospective students who want to go to Georgetown. MedFirst gives scholarships for kids going to paramedic school and fire academies.
What are your future plans?
We are looking to acquire other ambulance companies. I want to make the business more efficient and improve the service to the community. My trade is nursing, but I am a businessperson.