In this special edition of I AM ORS, we showcase the exceptional employees behind the COVID-19 pandemic response efforts at the NIH.
Stephen Teagarden is Division Chief with the NIH Fire Department, where he manages strategic goals and maintains the Department’s accreditation. He recently volunteered to support the NIH COVID-19 response team as the Incident Commander at the sample test site. As the Incident Commander, Stephen coordinates each patient at they come on-site by double checking all personal information, ensuring the team operates correctly, and if any team member needs anything while testing, he coordinates the process.
Stephen proudly and frequently volunteers to support those in need, from his trip to Hurricane Katrina to his assistance with Ebola transports to the NIH. He says helping others is a good feeling. “The feeling you get when you accomplish the task,” he explains. “They are calling you at their worst moment and you’re the one that’s there to help them.” Stephen finds volunteer work to be exciting and compares it to solving puzzles.
During his time at the test site, Stephen says he has met new faces. “I’m now working side by side with people that I probably would’ve never met if it wasn’t for this pandemic,” he said. “I’m working with post-bacs, doctors, people from the safety office, DEM [Division of Emergency Management]. The first couple of days we didn’t know each other, didn’t know each other’s name, [didn’t] know what each other did and now we are a pretty tight group over there.” Stephen says he is “super proud” to have met everyone and is glad to be working side-by-side.
Stephen looks at this experience as a team operation. “I’m only one part in the working machine. The site team is the big picture,” he says. “They are an amazing group of people from all different backgrounds that have come together to really make a smooth efficient operation.” Stephen says the test site shows the love, dedication and compassion the team has for the NIH community.
Stephen has been with the NIH for seven years. He began his career as a volunteer firefighter in high school and has volunteered his entire career. Stephen is originally from Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County, MD.