"The reason I’m here, how I got here today, I applied online for a scholarship. In the beginning of August, I got an email explaining I had won a 3-day scholarship to the Expo. I’ve gotten a world of education and experience out of it. I’m so grateful and thankful that I was awarded a scholarship."
Name: Jennifer Peel, EMT-Intermediate, Augusta ENT
Q: Is this your first EMS World Expo?
A: This is my first EMS World Expo, hopefully not my last.
Q: What goes on during a day in the life of Jennifer?
A: A day in the life of Jennifer is pretty normal. I have a daughter. I currently work for an auto laryngologist in an allergy department. I’m also a member of South Carolina 1 D-Mat, which is your disaster Medical Assistance team. We’re a federal asset that can be deployed in an emergency to offer decompression to hospitals and provide primary care to local communities that we go to in different disaster areas.
Q: Can you talk about your experience in your mission to Puerto Rico?
A: We were deployed to initially San Juan, Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria. We were there to provide medical assistance. We were in San Juan for 4 days. Then we were deployed to Fajardo, Puerto Rico, to offer emergency room decompression, any kind of local primary care assistance that was needed. There was no electricity or water, so none of the primary care facilities were open. No OB/GYN offices were open. The emergency room was overwhelmed. Only half of the hospital was operational. We set up our base of operations, which we called our BOO, in the hospital parking lot. Basically, we became their emergency room flow. They came through us and would then divert to the ER or seek treatment somewhere else from there. If it was a major injury, we could set up air transport to San Juan or wherever there was an acceptable facility for them to be treated at.
Q: What are some of the sessions that you attended today that stand out in your mind?
A: I attended a Pediatric Disaster lecture and it was spot-on from my experience in Fajardo. If I had heard the lecture beforehand, I would have been more prepared for the PEDs that we dealt with. But her lecture so far has been the most relatable and the most impressionable one that I’ve been to. I got to spend some time with her after the lecture and shared some more stories. But hands down, she’s been my best and favorite so far.
Q: When you leave here, what are you going to be able to take with you?
A: Aside from the overall experience, meeting people from different places and hearing different stories, I have gotten a lot of resource information. One of them would be the Opioid Roundtable. They gave a lot of info about resources that are probably available in your area. Some different resources that are available. A lot of refresher information. Things that you kind of forget about or kind of push to the wayside. Refreshing the importance of the basics.
Q: Can you talk about what made you become an EMT?
A: I had been a promotions director for a minor league baseball team in Augusta, Georgia, and then I moved on to WAGT, the local NBC affiliate and did promotions for them. I got married and decided to take some time off when I got pregnant. So, I had retired from that and had planned on going back into media promotions, something along those lines. I had my two daughters and my nephew, and we were on our way to Pennsylvania for a two-week vacation. On Interstate 81, around Roanoke, Virginia, we were involved in a horrific, multiple-vehicle car wreck. I just remember that even though we had some injuries ourselves and they weren’t severe, I wished I knew something and could do something. If I knew what do to, I could do it; I could help. Immediately out of nowhere, all of these people came out. Fireman, police, EMTs, paramedics. In my civilian non-emergent eyes, it was a beautifully orchestrated symphony. I couldn’t believe that all of these different people, from all of their different areas, were there immediately and did what they did. Our vehicle was totaled. A Virginia state trooper brought us to a motel room. I was 6 hours from my family in Pennsylvania and 6 hours from my family in Georgia. When we got to the motel, and I had to make phone calls. I told my husband, “I’m going to do that—what they did. I’m going to save lives.” Within that year, I enrolled at Augusta Tech and got my EMT and immediately went to work on the ambulance. I have been an EMT for about 14 years now.
Q: How did you get here today?
A: The reason I’m here, how I got here today, is that I applied online for a scholarship. I’m a single mom and work full-time, so I’m pretty much on a budget. A friend of mine was sent here from his work and we had talked about the whole event. I wanted to come, and I had the PTO to take time off. I went online, and while the conference is well worth the price, I couldn’t afford it with my budget. I was tooling around on the website, and I saw the scholarship application tab. I clicked on it and filled it out. It took about 3 days to write my essay, which included my story about Virginia. In the beginning of August, I got an email saying that I had won the whole 3-day scholarship to the Expo. I only had to pay for my plane ticket. I’ve gotten a world of education and experience out of it. I’m so grateful and thankful that I was awarded a scholarship.