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Student Spotlight - FIRST hosts their 7th annual summer FIRE Fellowship

The Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) at the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health hosted its seventh annual Fire service Injury Research, Epidemiology, and Evaluation (FIRE) Fellowship. Led by Jennifer Taylor, PhD, MPH, CPPS, of the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health, the FIRE Fellowship is a full-time, paid, 400-hour research and professional development experience that immerses students into the world of research and practice within the US fire and rescue service. Fellowship recipients, known as "FIRE Fellows," include undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students, as well as alumni from the School of Public Health.

This program is the only one of its kind in the nation, with students accumulating over 400 contact hours with faculty, professional staff, research partners, and the fire and rescue service. Students gain experience analyzing fire service data using quantitative and qualitative methods, conducting meaningful stakeholder engagement, and participating in purposeful public health practice through the advancement of FIRST Center projects and interventions. Since its inception in 2016, students have used the Fellowship to fulfill their Applied Practical Experience (APE), a Master of Public Health (MPH) program requirement at Dornsife. The Fellowship touches on all of the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) Competencies to enhance their training. Many students have also continued their work with the FIRST Center for their master's thesis, a graduation requirement of Dornsife's program.

The 2022 Class of FIRE Fellows

This year, students Eboni Pelzer, MPH, Inaya Wahid, MPH(c), and Yazid Barhoush, MPH(c), advanced the development of a workplace violence (WPV) prevention curriculum for fire-based EMS responders in partnership with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Specifically, students spent time research and developing course chapters related to cultural humility and de-escalation tactics, both of which are vital for helping EMS responders prevent a violent event from occurring or diffusing a situation when it does.

Eboni Pelzer, MPH, received her master's degree in 2022 with a concentration in Epidemiology & Biostatistics. As the daughter of a Philadelphia firefighters, Ms. Pelzer connected with members of the fire and rescue service. From her work on the WPV prevention course, she learned that, "Violence is part of the job--just not an acceptable part."

Inaya Wahid, MPH(c), will receive her master's degree in 2023 with a concentration in Epidemiology & Biostatistics. "The most important lessons I have learned from the Fellowship have been the most unexpected ones," she said. "They were not about data analysis or synthesizing literature--rather, they were about how to effectively and empathetically work with others."

Yazid Barhoush, MPH(c), will receive his master's degree in 2023 with a concentration in Epidemiology & Biostatistics. As an international student from Palestine, Mr. Barhoush gained extensive knowledge about the US fire and rescue service over the course of the Fellowship. When reflecting on his experience, he said, "The FIRE Fellowship is more than an internship--it is designed with the student in mind. It's a holistic experience that will transform your knowledge and skills."

The Fellowship is led by: Dr. Jennifer Taylor, Director of the FIRST Center; Andrea Davis, MPH, CPH, Associate Director; and Alex Fisher, MPH, CHES, Education & Training Coordinator.

The FIRST Center is a research, education, and practice enterprise organized to support the United States fire and rescue service through objective data collection and analysis. The IAFF Workplace Violence Prevention course uses findings from the Stress and Violence to fire-based EMS Responders (SAVER) portfolio. The SAVER Systems-Level Checklist is a policy and training intervention designed to shift the onus of safety and health from that of the individual first responder back onto the organization for whom they work by focusing on actions that leadership can institute through policy. The FIRE Fellows contributed to curriculum development through knowledge integration of cultural humility, trauma-informed care, and de-escalation competencies.

For more information, please contact Victoria Gallogly, Outreach & Communications Coordinator