In her role as a health and medical planning coordinator at the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management, Savannah Gore draws on the many skills and the unique perspective she’s gained in her military service. Since 2014 Specialist Gore has served the U.S. Army Reserves as a healthcare specialist (or medic, in civilian terms) and hazardous materials first responder. As she prepares to finish her MPH focusing on public health management this summer, we talked with her about her work, her military service, and the strengths that veterans bring to the Temple community.
Savannah's interview is part of our military veterans Q&A series. Read about Lesley Sasnett here.
What drew you to military service?
I come from a military family and it was something I always wanted to do. I thought I would attend the Air Force Academy like my dad did. But I fell in love with the atmosphere at Temple, so I went the ROTC route instead, and eventually enlisted with the Army Reserve.
What’s your role in the Reserve?
My unit concentrates on emergency management. We “drill” monthly and usually do preparedness drills. If there’s any type of disaster in this region, we’ll respond to it.
How did your military experience influence your decision to go into the MPH program?
When I started getting to know more about emergency management, I became curious about what I could do with that on the civilian side. I saw that there are a lot of MPH programs as well as MS programs in emergency management.
Why did you choose Temple?
I came to Temple as an undergrad. I visited in high school with two friends, and we really loved the feel of Temple. We all applied, we all got in, and I'm the only one who came. I just loved the welcoming feel of it. I really like the diversity. So Temple was my first choice for graduate school.
What are some of your biggest takeaways of the MPH program?
I have to say, first, my professors. Dr. Frankel is by far one of the best professors here. Her teaching style is so supportive. I understand everything, and she's very accommodating and sympathetic about students’ schedules. That’s big for me because of my schedule.
Tell us about your job at the Office of Emergency Management.
Our office helps the healthcare community in Philadelphia with emergency response preparedness. For example, in March, there was a PECO substation fire that caused a brief power outage at Temple University Hospital. We're on hand to help them meet patients’ needs, whether that’s providing backup generators or contacting outside facilities for support. There’s so much more to the office and to public health in general – this is just my little part of it.
What do you bring from your military experience into your job and education?
I think that really anyone who’s served can appreciate things in a way many civilians don’t necessarily. In my unit, we understand emergency planning and healthcare needs on a very large scale. We understand how all the parts fit together and work together, and we know all the things that can go wrong and how to respond with tactical and logistical measures. I think that gives me a unique perspective when it comes to the problems we address in class and at work. What we do at the Office of Emergency Management is similar in many ways to what we do in my unit, so I was able to hit the ground running.
What would you say to veterans who are thinking about getting into public health?
Many of the classes meet in the evenings, so it’s convenient for people who need a flexible schedule. The campus has a lot of events for veterans, like a Veterans Day luncheon, programs to help veterans integrate into Temple, help with financial aid, job fairs and the like. It feels very welcoming and supportive of veterans.
What’s next for you?
Right now I’m interested in learning more about the healthcare side of emergency management, and I want to get a broader picture of everything. I hope that one day I can be a director of emergency management. Which is a huge responsibility – it takes a lot, and our director is phenomenal. I don't even know how she does it.