Raised by a single mom with two brothers in a two bedroom apartment in the rough neighborhood of Belmont, Abel Collado never knew what the future held for him.
Collado, 25, recalled that he was surrounded by violence, drugs and guns as a child. While a career as a paramedic and firefighter was the furthest thing from his mind, he was determined to get out and make a better life for himself.
“I appreciate her so much for what she did for us [his brothers Emilio and Alexander],” he said referring to his mom, Josefina. “I knew I wanted better. I love where I grew up. It made me who I am. I had no idea that I would be where I am today.”
In high school he and a close friend named Jose Felix, wanted to go to college, but their grades were mediocre. So they opted to attend SUNY Purchase, which was like a breath of fresh air compared to the Bronx.
“We loved it. We loved the campus,” he said. “Us going to college was a way out of the Bronx.”
Felix mentioned that his cousin was a paramedic and the duo became intrigued. He graduated as an EMT and paramedic, along with an associate’s degree in applied science.
He spent seven years working as an EMS in the city and in April 2019, Collado became a firefighter in midtown. As a fireman, he works two 24 hours shifts a week, yet still felt the need to do more.
So in April, in the peak of COVID-19, he joined Ready Responders, a program that is designed to bring on-site health services, urgent care, non-emergency services and COVID-19 testing to residents of New York City.
With seven years under his belt as a paramedic, Collado was tabbed a supervisor of the organization. In that role, he gets the opportunity to constantly work and assist patients.
“I wanted to help Ready because of their mission and goal,” he said. “I’m so happy that Ready came into NYC and I think it’s been inspirational for the patients in their time of need.”
According to Collado, he’s proud to work for Ready and has seen the need for its service in NYC. In his years as a first responder, there isn’t a moment that stands out, but one of the most rewarding parts of his work experience is receiving gratitude from a patient’s family. When he cares for someone’s loved one, and they say “thank you,” there’s no better feeling to know that they get to live to see another Christmas or family dinner together.
“Every day I wake up and I have to clock into work for Ready,” he said. “I don’t feel like this is my job. This is my life. This is what I do.”
Today he lives in Pelham Gardens and stressed to the Bronx Times that throughout his journey, he learned that no matter where someone is from, anyone can do anything.
“I honestly didn’t know where I would be in my life right now,” he said. “God has blessed me.”