Meet our staff

In A Heartbeat owners Monica Hamilton McCarthy and Patrick McCarthy with IAHB founder Gretchen Nahkala.

 Gretchen Nahkala, Founder

FullSizeRender (9)Gretchen founded In A Heartbeat in 1997. She worked in the health field as a dental hygienist for over 25 years. She became a certified CPR instructor so that she could train her coworkers, but her outgoing personality and knowledge soon put her classes in demand. As a result, she created In A Heartbeat to meet the CPR and First Aid needs of the medical field and other vocations that require safety training. In 2006, she returned to school to become a certified EMT, and served as the Oakham Ambulance Director with an on-call fire department.


 Monica Hamilton McCarthy, Owner, Marketing Director, Instructor, CFO

FullSizeRender (8) Monica joined the In A Heartbeat team in 2015 as the Marketing Director and social media manager. She became a Heartsaver instructor in 2016 and a BLS Healthcare Provider instructor in 2017. Monica has a degree in English with a Humanities minor from Providence College in Rhode Island, and is also a freelance writer and editor, with clients in the healthcare industry. Monica also plays traditional Irish and Celtic music with her husband Patrick in the duo Dublin Down.

Patrick McCarthy, Owner, Instructor, President

patrick headshot

Patrick has been with the In A Heartbeat team since 2003. A graduate of The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Patrick worked in the mental health field for many years. Patrick specializes in industrial health and safety, and also works as a manufacturing professional. He is also a musician and an avid outdoorsman, and is part of the Irish duo, Dublin Down, with his wife, Monica.


Brett Wilder, Instructor, EMT-B, Wilderness EMT, RN

Brett for website Brett joined the In A Heartbeat team in 2018. He also works as an emergency room technician at Marlborough Hospital. Brett is a U.S. Navy veteran where he spent six years working as military police and security. After separating from the Navy is 2012 he went on to earn a degree in Exercise and Sports Science with a concentration in Clinical Exercise Physiology from Fitchburg State. Brett is also a graduate of the Stonehearth Outdoor Leadership School (SOLO) where he earned his Wilderness EMT certification.

Nate O’Lari, Instructor, EMT, Firefighter, BS


Nate joined the In A Heartbeat team in 2019 as an instructor after graduating Anna Maria College with a Bachelors Degree in Fire Science. Nate has been a nationally registered EMT for 3 years and is currently enrolled in Anna Maria’s paramedic program. He serves the towns of Oakham and Orange as a call firefighter and EMT.

nate small site





Jake Nahkala, Instructor, FF, EMT

FullSizeRender (13)Jake graduated with a Fire Science degree from Southern Maine Community College. He has completed training at the Fire Academy in ME and become a nationally registered EMT. Jake is also a certified lifeguard, Captain on the Oakham Fire Department, and is a training officer there. He also works full-time as a Firefighter/EMT for MassPort. He enjoys spending time outdoors and helping others.



Jeff Nahkala, Instructor, retired FF, EMT

FullSizeRender (12)

Jeff has been a part of In A Heartbeat since the very beginning. As a co-owner of a successful dental lab, he was very helpful when Gretchen decided to launch her business. A third-generation firefighter, Jeff retired as the Fire Chief for the Town of Oakham, MA after serving the department since his teens, and brings his experience as an EMT/Firefighter to his classes as a CPR instructor. Jeff is an accomplished trumpet player and plays with several bands.




%d bloggers like this: