Understanding the Software Needs of First Responders
Don Bertucci leverages his life-saving experiences in firefighting and emergency medical services to better empathize with clients
This is part of a series on Acquired Knowledge which profiles outstanding sales and marketing leaders. Volaris Group believes that many small to mid-sized software companies can benefit by investing more in sales and marketing and taking a long-term view on nurturing customer relationships.
While it can be common to hear colleagues figuratively say they’ve “put out fires” after responding to urgent situations at work, it’s probably less likely that they’ve also done that in the literal sense—unless your colleague happens to be Don Bertucci.
Bertucci is a sales leader who transitioned to the software industry full-time after nearly three decades as a firefighter, paramedic and emergency medical services (EMS) worker. He now brings his unique perspective to understanding clients’ challenges and needs as the Director of Sales and Marketing at Sansio, a Volaris-owned software company. Sansio provides point-of-care data management solutions that allow EMS agencies and fire departments to electronically document patient information.
Thanks to his professional background, Bertucci’s empathy for the customer allows him to establish and maintain close, long-term relationships with EMS and fire departments. He exemplifies the Volaris belief that our software companies are most useful to clients when they can act as subject matter experts who are extremely knowledgeable about trends and issues facing their niche markets.
Life As a Firefighter
While working as a fire department lieutenant and state-licensed paramedic in Michigan, Bertucci oversaw a company of four firefighters. He led the fire station’s operations while responding to both firefighting and EMS calls. Contrary to common misperceptions, Bertucci’s life in the fire department was always busy, even when the crew wasn’t out on a call.
Don Bertucci spent close to three decades working as a firefighter and EMS worker before fully transitioning into a career in the software industry. “I’m comfortable in the industry’s culture, and that makes my clients comfortable,” he says.
“The firefighters of the past are gone,” he stresses. “A lot of people might think that firefighters just sit around all day playing cards, eating cookies, and watching TV until the bell rings for them to respond to a call, but that’s so far from the truth anymore.”
“When I first started in the fire service in 1986, it might have been kind of like that. But we got busier and busier as the years went along, and our training requirements got higher and higher,” he explains.
These days, most of a firefighter’s time is spent on training and maintenance of equipment and the station in addition to going on calls. Firefighters must undergo strict and constant training to be able to rescue lives from confined spaces, set up pre-incident fire plans, and conduct fire inspections.
A modern firefighter’s expertise not only includes controlling and dousing fires, but also determining the causes of fires, providing emergency medical care, conducting fire safety training and education to the public, responding to hazardous materials calls, and managing the scenes of accidents or other emergencies.
“All of these responsibilities don’t leave much time to sit around and pet the firehouse dog,” quips Bertucci.
“When I went on a call, I always asked myself how I would want my parent, my brother, my sister, or my child treated in a situation,” Bertucci says. “There weren’t many days that went by where we didn't go in and make somebody's day better by helping them.”
As Bertucci moved up the ranks, he enjoyed taking on more responsibility and found satisfaction in serving his community.
“Normally when people don’t know where to go for help with a problem, they call the fire department,” he explains. “We had so many resources at our fingertips that we could pretty much take care of any problem—whether it’s the tools on our truck, or the knowledge or connections within the community.”
Entering the World of Medical Supplies and Technology
Like many firefighters, Bertucci held a job on the side. In his case, he worked between 20 to 40 hours a week in business development and sales for a medical supply company. Through his time and work as an EMS Coordinator at the fire department, Bertucci made many industry contacts and was able to leverage his knowledge and network to help build the medical supply company’s business.
Bertucci’s combination of experience and skills provided a natural transition for him into the medical sales and business development world. He took an early retirement from his firefighting and EMS roles in 2015 to accept a position with a software division of Physio-Control, a hardware company that was focused mainly on medical devices.
Physio-Control had some history of M&A both before and after Bertucci joined. The medical device company acquired Sansio in 2014 because company leadership wanted to add patient care reporting to complement their data solutions offerings. Then in 2016, Physio-Control was acquired by an even larger medical hardware company called Stryker.
By 2021, Stryker decided to carve out two software lines of business, which were then acquired by Volaris. Volaris then took the company back to its roots, reinstating the original Sansio name.
Thriving Under New Ownership at Volaris
Today, Bertucci occupies a central sales leadership role at Sansio, overseeing a sales and marketing team who are focused on the company’s HealthEMS product. He believes being under the ownership of Volaris is beneficial for both Sansio and its customers.
“We’re back to being Sansio again. It's nice to be back under a software company that understands and is focused on software,” he says.
I believe Volaris’ vision aligns well with our team’s. We can concentrate on being more specialized, and we have more autonomy to make decisions that are best for the product. It’s important that we can go deeper with a customer rather than wider when it comes to our product, HealthEMS.
-Don Bertucci, Director of Sales & Marketing, Sansio
Bertucci’s background, sales acumen, and leadership skills are serving him well in his current role and are key factors in ensuring the success of his team and the HealthEMS product. He believes the qualities that make a great salesperson include being genuine and consultative, and doing what's right for the customer. He strives for these qualities in himself and aims to instill them in his team.
His clinical experience and substantial connection to the medical industry help customers see Bertucci as authentic. He often looks back on his professional history to see things from his customers’ perspective and ensure they feel comfortable with their decision to use Sansio’s software.
Bertucci draws on his clinical background to help him relate to patients. “I truly believe in our product and in what we're doing,” he says. “Customers can use data on the back end to make sure they're doing the right things to the highest quality.”
“When I engage with the customer, I’m not shy about telling them that I come from their industry and that I've been in their shoes,” he says. “A lot of our customers want to get deep into the weeds and have conversations about different functionalities. It’s really important for them to understand how our software would work if they were to have certain types of patients or circumstances.”
Sansio’s Don Bertucci (right) is often on the road visiting clients, such as long-term customer Kraig Dodge (left). Dodge is the Vice President of Resource Delivery & Performance for Life EMS, a provider of pre-hospital care services based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Working under the Volaris umbrella allows the Sansio team to keep their attention on customer needs and build trust-based, long-lasting relationships with them, according to Bertucci. He says he believes Sansio’s product makes people’s lives better – whether they’re medics who use the product or patients who eventually benefit from it.
“Being able to go deeper with a long-term customer rather than wider is exactly where we're at with our product,” he reflects.
“The Volaris vision aligns really well with the way that our company is built, and that’s what makes it attractive for me to be working for Sansio.”