College junior Hannah Peifer, was recently named chief of the Medical Emergency Response Team. The Daily Pennsylvanian sat down with her to learn about her new position, her interests and her hopes for the future.
The Daily Pennsylvanian: Why did you decide to join MERT?
Hannah Peifer: I became an EMT my junior year of high school. One of my high school teachers actually recommended it to me. I fell in love with it and loved being an EMT. I came to visit Penn for the first time during my senior year, after I had already been accepted, and my tour guide happened to be a member of MERT. So that’s how I found out about MERT even before I came to Penn. In the fall, I joined right away and loved the organization.
DP: What’s your favorite memory?
HP: One of the really cool things we did this past year was sending a bunch of our members to cover the pope’s visit in Center City. Just being there and being part of the response was really amazing. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
DP: What are your responsibilities as MERT chief?
HP: The chief oversees our board. We have 15 different positions, so it’s quite large. First of all, just working with the board and collaborating with them to accomplish goals. Also, the chief is in charge of representing MERT, whether that be to our advisors or to the Penn community.
DP: Are there any changes you’re hoping to see?
HP: We have grown a lot recently. We have a lot of new members. I would like to see them integrated a little bit more. Also, we have a lot of unique opportunities this year. Every year we go to the National Collegiate EMS Foundation Conference, and this year it is actually in Philadelphia, so we’ll be more involved in that.
DP: Anything else you’d like people to know about MERT?
HP: One of the changes we’ve been trying to work on for forever — MERT has been around for almost 10 years — is our image. There was just a guest column in the DP almost calling us the “drunk police.” Maybe they didn’t call us the drunk police, but it alluded to the fact that we only respond to drug and alcohol calls, which is about half of our call volume, but the other half is everything from animal attacks to burns to asthma attacks. We really respond to a whole range of things, and I think just having people understand that would be beneficial. We don’t want to be perceived as the drunk police. We want students to feel comfortable calling us. One of the best things about MERT is that we are completely students, with a unique interest in being woken up at 5 in the morning for a call.
This Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.
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