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Student Spot Light: Annie Schinnell

Annie Schinnell’s Story

I took a wilderness first responder course in Portland and absolutely loved it. I decided I wanted to get my EMT but wanted to make sure it was wilderness or remote. So, I held out for that and was pointed in the direction of RMI.

I have two older sisters who have both fought fire and a mom that worked for the US Forest Service, so I kind of had mentorship within my family. In my current senior position with the Lake View Interagency HelitackCrew down in Lake View, Oregon, it’s really cool for me to go to briefings and be more involved in the decision making. It’s really fun to look around the room and see how many more females there are. There still aren’t very many, but if there are more than one or two, I’m thinking we are stacked on this one. But it’s changed, just in my seven years of fire it’s changed pretty dramatically, and I think that women are just starting to make it up to decision-making positions. 

Remote Medical Training’s instructor Christina Thompson was one of my instructors at my Remote EMT course. Just getting to meet her was a big, kind of a decision point for me. I was hearing about the work she was doing with the National Park Service and was thinking, yep, that’s the direction I would like to go with this ultimately. I knew I needed to get aviation and medical experience to move towards that.

So, when I got into a position where that was me, I found that I was raising my hand in briefings and saying I am an EMT only to find I was the only one raising my hand. I would think, ok, so if something happens, I am literally the first person that is going to be called. It changed my whole mindset going into forest fires when I was an EMT.  Especially with helicopter operations, we are often very remote and we would be flying medical gear. I was making the decisions that would lead to what do we actually have available out here. I am very responsible for those decisions, we don’t really have a lot of oversight on that. 

I’m hoping I can do more with remote medicine because I really enjoy that aspect of the job and I’m really thankful that I haven’t gotten so much hands-on experience in fire. I’m glad to have firefighting skills, but I would love to just do more remote medicine. It’s really crazy, there is a lot of remote medicine careers I never really thought about as involving remote medicine until I took all of these classes and learned about careers like commercial diving and executive protection, which I learned is what they call bodyguards.