Student Spotlight: Rashant Matos

April 5, 2017

Rashant Matos participated in the Forsyth County Point of Distribution (POD) during the recent Statewide Vigilant Guard exercise as a part of her internship at North Health District 2. Forsyth County opened a POD at the Cumming Aquatic Center to exercise their response to a severe weather event. In a real-world situation and for this exercise, food, water, meals, ice, shelter, and tarps were provided to citizens of the community. This exercise was staffed by the Georgia National Guard, Georgia State Defense Force, Forsyth County CERT Team, and Forsyth County Sherriff’s Department. The Forsyth County Emergency Manager was on site to direct operations and communications with the Forsyth County Emergency Operations Center, which was activated for this exercise.

Forsyth County is a part of North Health District 2 and the Emergency Preparedness and Response team, Directed by Mark Palen, assisted in the exercise.  Rashant’s role as  intern was to observe the traffic flow and relay any needs back to the District Operations Center in Gainesville in order to coordinate any additional supply requests or medical needs.  In reflecting on this practical learning experience, Rashant states, “ This exercise allowed me to learn about how members of a community obtain food, water, and other supplies in the event of an emergency in an organized, expedited, and safe manner.” As her supervisor, Mr. Palen remarks of Rashant,“ perhaps the most telling attribute demonstrated by Ms. Matos was her professionalism in becoming a contributing member of the EP Section.  She was energetic, well-accepted by the group, and courteous and respectful to community partners.”

During her internship, Rashant went to various disaster drills and observed different scenarios. These ranged from large scale events (many casualties), to smaller scale events (zero causalities). She says, “I learned how resources are deployed. (I also learned) about the personnel needed depending on the magnitude, the people involved, what time and where an incident occurs and how depending on the incident, certain equipment is needed (i.e. equipment for a chemical spill would be different than equipment for a major tornado).”  She also create a survey that addressed District 2 employees’ attitudes towards emergencies and their ability to act in a different job duty should the need arise.

Rashant is a Health Promotion and Behavior concentration and completed her internship at District 2 under the supervision of Mark Palen.  Her academic advisor is Dr. Jennifer Gay.