Katrina Lee McCandless: Emergency Services for Underserved Populations

IMG_9313 LRPSKatrina Lee McCandless
Emergency Services for Underserved Populations
Home College:  Hunter College/Macaulay Honors College
Faculty Mentor: Prof. Victor Herbert, Protection Management, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Memorial Scholarship for Students in Education or Human services
Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship
Alaska State Firefighters Association Scholarship
Shandelle Nelson Memorial Emergency Medical Service Scholarship

At the age of five, Trina McCandless began her healthcare career in the most isolated parts of Alaska.  She accompanied her father on frequent trips to provide basic health care there, and by her early teens her responsibilities had grown to include tasks such as navigation of the small skiff used to cross between isolated island communities and the recording patients’ vital signs.  In exchange for becoming a junior firefighter, further training to become an Emergency Trauma Technician and then an Emergency Medical Technician was provided by her community’s local fire department. By age seventeen, she was responding to medical emergencies and fires.  Experience working with other fire departments and emergency medical services introduced her to the range of adaptations needed to meet the unique challenges of particular environments and fueled a curiosity in the similar adaptations required in disaster situations. These early experiences have given Trina the base of knowledge that she has built on with her education through CUNY BA as a Macaulay Honors/Hunter College student. Professor Jack Salzman (Hunter College, History Department) has full confidence in Trina’s future success in her chosen path, describing her as “one of the truly exceptional students I have met in over 50 years of teaching.”   Trina’s ultimate career goal is to become a medical doctor and provide emergency healthcare in both rural Alaska and areas stricken by natural or man-made disaster throughout the world.

In CUNY Baccalaureate, Trina pursues an area of concentration in Emergency Services for Underserved Populations. Her interdisciplinary curriculum encompasses courses from the departments of Public Administration, Protection Management, Fire Science, Human Rights, and Spanish. Her academic pursuits are complimented by continuing volunteer work. In 2011, Trina was selected as the Macaulay Honors College representative for the CUNY-AC Goodwill Tour to New Orleans, a service trip centered on providing continuing relief to victims of Hurricane Katrina.  About that experience, Trina said, “The opportunity to see a city still in the process of rebuilding six years after a disaster has helped me to better understand the scope of the loss.  I’m used to dealing with an urgent emergency like a fire or ambulance call and then going home, but many victims are still suffering the effects almost a decade after, even though their help has ‘gone home’ now that the immediate danger is gone.”  In the past academic year Trina has volunteered her time in a variety of ways:  serving at a Hurricane Irene Shelter; with her childhood fire department; and by providing continuing healthcare education – in the form of Wilderness First Aid education and lecturing in accredited talks to other healthcare providers.

In April of 2012, Trina presented the findings of her research on Pre–Hospital Treatment of Cardiac Arrest in Southeast Alaska to her peers at an emergency medical services conference, as well as to the board of the Southeast Region Emergency Medical Services and the Section Chief of Emergency Programs for the State of Alaska. Her study was formulated under the auspices of Dr. Michael Copass, medical director of Medic One of Seattle. The study necessitated time observing the research methods of Medic One in Seattle followed by three months of travel collecting both oral histories and written data in Alaska.

Trina recently returned from a study abroad in Argentina, where she took Spanish language and completed a medical internship in an Argentine hospital. This experience expanded her knowledge of emergency healthcare throughout the world, and added skills tailored to best serve patients and populations in the future.  As all this makes clear, Trina McCandless has demonstrated a life-long commitment to public service and health care.  She is passionate about improving the lives of others, and is well on her way to a career devoted to fulfilling this passion.