Third-year honors student Heidi Kitchel finds opportunity to help during coronavirus pandemic

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March 26, 2021

Heidi Kitchel

Heidi Kitchel, a third-year student in Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus, was scheduled to study abroad in a pre-health program in Guatemala last summer, but the shutdown of most travel due to the novel coronavirus pandemic put a damper on her plans. 

Although Kitchel, who is majoring in applied biological sciences pre-health, was disappointed with missing out on a trip to Guatemala she came up with a new objective.

She switched her focus to obtaining an Emergency Medical Technician certificate and started a four-month training program. She learned practical skills including how to resuscitate patients, splint injured limbs, and administer medications, including those by injection.

She had to pass three exams – the EMT course written exam, a hands-on practical exam, and a computer-based test - to obtain her state of Arizona EMT certification. 

With her credentials in hand, in January Kitchel volunteered to assist at Maricopa County Department of Public Health coronavirus vaccine events. 

She initially helped by drawing up vaccine doses and observing people for possible adverse reactions after they received vaccinations. She then became what’s called a vaccinator – the person who puts shots in arms. She has volunteered at six weekend vaccine events so far. 

“It means a lot to me to be able to contribute to something that strengthens public health and helps people not get sick,” she said. 

Kitchel, who hopes to attend medical school, said she believes having EMT training and vaccine event experience will help her in the application process.

“One of the big things I’d like to do is work as a physician in emergency medicine. Being an EMT, knowing how to handle cases and how to interact with people, are important steps to becoming a good doctor.”

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