CALES alumna develops COVID-19 training protocol for first responders

Thursday, April 30, 2020
CALES Alumna Kelly Reynolds, chair of the College of Public Health Department of Community, Environment, and Policy and ESRAC director, is working with Tucson Fire Department personnel to create a training video about protocols for first responders to avoid infection during an outbreak.

CALES alumna Kelly Reynolds is Chair of the Department of Community Environment and Policy in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona, where she has worked since 2006, and Director of the Environment, Exposure Science and Risk Assessment Center.

Reynolds earned her Bachelor’s (Microbiology) and Ph.D. (Environmental Microbiology) from CALES and the Department of Environmental Science. She has worked as a researcher and public health educator for more than 30 years, specializing in water quality, food safety, and disease transmission.

Her role in the UArizona Zuckerman College of Public Health has put her on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Q: Can you talk about your time in CALES and the Department of Environmental Science as both an undergrad and Ph.D. student, and who you worked with? Any highlights from that time?

A: My time in CALES was instrumental in shaping the researcher and mentor I am today. My advisors were Drs. Charles Gerba and Ian Pepper. Both taught me the importance of a strong work ethic and enjoying what you do. The discipline of Environmental Science is highly multidisciplinary and part of a One Health approach toward the management of some of our greatest environmental and public health problems we are experiencing today and anticipate in the future.

Q: What is the nature of your current public health/COVID-19 related collaboration with the Tucson Fire Department?

A: Our prior studies with Tucson and Northwest Fire Departments showed gaps in infection control protocols. Working collaboratively with the Tucson Fire Department, we established a SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 Exposure Prevention Protocol and Training video and checklist, specific to the needs of EMS personnel, that if properly followed will allow them to avoid infection and quarantine. The 10-minute micro-training, available on YouTube (, received over eighteen thousand views in less than three weeks.

Q: How do you see the College of Public Health and the University of Arizona being positioned to lead during this crisis?

A: There are many challenges ahead, however, the College of Public Health and other colleges across the University are actively engaged in researching and communicating best practices for our community to transition back to work, school, and life in general. The current pandemic has given us new insights into how to prepare and respond in similar situations while working together to protect the most vulnerable in our society. UArizona promises to remain a thought-leading institution in Environmental Science and Public Health.

Q: This is a stressful and challenging time, do you have any positive thoughts or words you would like to share with the CALES community?

A: In the last few weeks, I have witnessed our entire population at UArizona adapt to changes on a practically daily basis with patience and grace. The resilience demonstrated by our campus community is truly impressive as we continue to work together to get through these difficult times, make necessary sacrifices, and focus on our goals ahead. I’m looking forward to the fall semester and applying what we have learned from this current experience to improve the field of environmental health sciences in the future.