Sarah Hurth has extensive experience working in healthy homes and weatherization and is currently a Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Technician (NREMT) working in Oregon. Sarah is friendly and open; she laughs easily and her care for people and community is quickly apparent.
I had the chance to have a conversation with Sarah and she shared about some of her experiences working in these fields; both the differences and areas of overlap intrigued me. Sarah started by telling me about being an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in Kansas City, MO and working primarily with kids; frequently bringing them to and from the hospital for care. When she moved to working with healthy homes, she grew her understanding of how homes impact residents’ health, especially with children. As we talked, she noted “this is dual impact” work, making energy efficient homes and safer, healthier homes too. She realized, “these are kids I might have seen on my ambulance at the children’s hospital and now we can improve their home lives, so we don’t have to take them to the hospital.” I don’t think you can overstate what a realization that is.
After working in healthy homes Sarah went to a Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) where the focus was more oriented toward the adults in the home. In this arena the impact of structural changes continued to amaze but client education really started to stand out to Sarah. She spoke of a time she visited a home and walked through discussing air quality and what affects it. She shared information about air flow, moisture build up and generally how to maintain healthy air in the home; and then, sometime later that same client told Sarah their kids were missing less school and needing fewer visits to the doctor.
As Sarah transitioned back to her work as an NREMT she could not help but to bring all she had learned with her. The connections between weatherization and health are indisputable but perhaps the more important piece is that Sarah got to see it all firsthand – with a foot firmly planted in each world. Her work, experience and perspective is a fantastic testament to the importance of health as an outcome and the partnerships that can make all the difference, in her own words: “knowing that we are all looking to make the same life improvements for our clients – having our EMS providers, Healthy Homes programs, and Weatherization programs working together to better serve our community is a great way forward”.
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