Preparing for the Unexpected

Patrick Turek '12 MPA.

Patrick Turek '12 MPA.

If a public health emergency occurred, Patrick Turek ’12 MPA is the type of composed person whom people would feel comfortable turning to for help.

The 22-year-old graduate student in UConn’s nationally recognized master’s in public administration program has already been a frontline emergency service responder for years. Most recently, while meeting the MPA’s internship requirement, Turek created an emergency response plan to address the public health disasters that could result from an anthrax or smallpox bioterrorism attack. The New Britain Health Department obtained the public health emergency preparedness grant that funded Turek’s internship.

“Emergency medical service is closest to my heart,” says Turek. “It starts with my roots: My dad’s a firefighter, and my mom’s a nurse. I was touched by the stories they’ve told me about their careers.”

Turek notes that most people might prefer to push concerns about emergency situations out of their minds, even as awareness has been heightened since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

“There are inherent qualities that make a person fit for working in emergency planning and homeland security,” says Turek. “I’ve received extensive training, and I’m prepared to stay calm when most people might not. None of what I do stresses me out. I’ve been presented with the greatest opportunities anyone can ask for. It isn’t work – I really enjoy this.”

What Turek enjoys is training new emergency care providers and providing care to people requiring ambulance service. He instructs classes in CPR, first aid, and certification to become both an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) and an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and he coordinates the practical exam that EMTs have to pass at the end of their training. During last August’s Hurricane Irene, he also worked a 24-hour shift for New Britain Emergency Medical Services (NBEMS).

Turek’s involvement in critical caregiving began right after high school, when he passed the EMT certification course at the nonprofit NBEMS Academy, the city’s 911 ambulance provider. Turek worked at NBEMS part time while earning his bachelor’s degree in criminology at Central Connecticut State University. Meanwhile, he learned about UConn’s MPA program.

“A number of people I work with at NBEMS are or have been enrolled in it, and they encouraged me to enroll,” he says. “The MPA program’s reputation was absolutely influential.”

U.S. News & World Report ranks UConn’s MPA in the top 20 percent of programs in the country. It is the only accredited MPA program in Connecticut. Its public finance and budgeting program is ranked seventh in the country.

Turek’s master’s focus is finance, because his advisors recommended challenging himself.

“I realized while pursuing my MPA that there are more and different opportunities involving public safety available to people with the master’s degree. I can make a broader impact on a community from a public safety leadership role, especially with a background in finance. I just really like to help people.”