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FIRST Receives Delta Omega Innovative Public Health Curriculum "Honorable Mention" for FIRE Fellowship

The Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) at the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health was awarded an Innovative Public Health Curriculum "Honorable Mention" for the Fire service Injury Research, Epidemiology, and Evaluation (FIRE) Fellowship from the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health.

Delta Omega created their annual Innovative Public Health Curriculum awards to showcase achievement and excellence in the realms of public health research, practice, and education. This award highlights innovative public health curricula that emphasize a wide range of public health competencies, including collaborative public health practice, stakeholder engagement, and the application of public health and science-based principles.

The FIRST Center developed the FIRE Fellowship in 2016 as a way of immersing master's program students within the Dornsife School of Public Health into the US fire and rescue service. Fellowship recipients, known as "FIRE Fellows," collaborate on analysis of fire service data and develop interventions to improve first responder safety and health. This 400-hour summer intensive program gives Fellows the opportunity to service community partners' real world needs through firsthand experience with the US fire and rescue service. Most Fellows use the summer Fellowship as their Applied Practical Experience (APE), as required by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), and many continue this work as their second-year master's thesis.

This past summer, as part of the 7th annual Fellowship, the Fellows contributed to the development of a workplace violence prevention curriculum geared toward providing fire-based EMS responders with the skills and knowledge needed to protect themselves from violence on the job. This course comes in collaboration with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).

As a curriculum, the Fellowship is innovative in comparison to other summer intensives in several ways. It strongly emphasizes collaboration with the community - Fellows interact directly with members of the fire and rescue service, including members of the Philadelphia Fire Department, through station visits and ride-alongs with EMS providers. The Fellowship also has an energetic and engaging cohort of around 40 alumni who serve as mentors to the Fellows, providing both academic and professional advice to students.

The Fellowship also draws on a multitude of public health competencies - students manage and analyze both quantitative and qualitative data, with an emphasis on systems thinking and stakeholder engagement. Fellows learn to take direction from communities through the FIRST Center ethos of "doing research with the fire service, not on the fire service," which prepares them for respectful stakeholder engagement.

In addition, Fellows develop several professional competencies. "Collaboration over Competition" emphasizes interdisciplinary work, stressing the idea that working together produces the best outcomes. Another competency, the "Hierarchy of Help," teaches self-directed sense-making by encouraging students to use their own resources first before turning to colleagues or management staff for assistance. These, along with other FIRST Center core values, are coveted by students. In fact, 68% of past Fellows felt strongly that they would employ the "Hierarchy of Help" in the future, and 100% felt that the value of "Collaboration over Competition" was extremely important.

Throughout the Fellowship, students are given a period of reflection time at the end of each day, during which they can journal their thoughts, concerns, or ideas into a Reflection Log. At the conclusion of the Fellowship, students present their project and reflections to friends, family, faculty, and fire service partners at the Reflection Event.

The receipt of an Innovative Curriculum Award speaks not only to the uniqueness of the Fellowship, but also it its inherent value in creating the next generation of public health practitioners.

The Fellowship is led by the FIRST Center team: Jennifer Taylor, PhD, MPH, CPPS, FIRST Center Director; Andrea Davis, MPH, CPH, FIRST Center Associate Director; Alex Fisher, MPH, CHES, Education & Training Coordinator; and Fellowship alumni. In addition to PFD and the IAFF, FIRST also partners with several organizations to mentor and train the Fellows, working together to train the next generation of fire service researchers:

Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI)
Delaware County Emergency Services Training Center (DCESTC)
Drexel University Fire & EMS
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA)
International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
International Public Safety Data Institute (IPSDI)
National Fire Academy
National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF)
National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA)
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC)
New York City Fire Department (FDNY)
Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences
Provident Insurance
Ricochet Manufacturing Company, Inc.
San Diego Fire-Rescue
University of Utah Health


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. It is led by Dr. Jennifer Taylor, an expert in injury prevention, healthcare quality improvement, and occupational safety. FIRST projects include organizational safety climate assessment, nonfatal injury system development, stress and violence in fire-based EMS responders, mental health concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, policy research and practice, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the fire and rescue service. FIRST uses federal funding to make sure research findings are freely downloadable for the fire service and the public.

Dr. Jennifer Taylor is the Arthur L. and Joanne B. Frank Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health. She received a PhD from the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a MPH in Health Services from the Boston University School of Public Health. She is a Certified Professional in Patient Safety (CPPS).

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