In a round-about way, Chevron is helping Pascagoula, MS refinery operator and emergency responder Lacey Paquin reconnect with the goal she set for herself in college – a career in medicine.
“I graduated from the University of South Alabama with a pre-med degree,” she said. “I worked my way through college as an emergency room nurse’s aide.”
Paquin, who begins her training as an emergency medical technician on the Pascagoula ERT this summer, attended the Chevron corporate fire school in May at Brayton Fire Training Field in Texas.
Born in Nebraska, Paquin, 34, joined the Coast Guard after graduating early from high school. Her first duty station was Mobile, AL. Returning to civilian life 4½ years later, she decided to continue living in the southern United States.
“After I completed my contract I decided to attend South Alabama in Mobile,” Paquin said. “The cost of living was cheap, there was no snow and I liked the area.”
With the intention of pursuing a career in medicine, she appropriately chose to support her continuing education with a job in an emergency room. Her career in the military tended to inform her work as much as anything she learned in the classroom.
“It was a psych intake hospital so things could be pretty intense,” she said. “You’re working with very volatile people. You just didn’t know what was going to come through the hospital doors next.”
However, despite all her dedicated effort, upon graduation Paquin faced some difficult decisions about her future in medicine.
“Being pre-med in college means piling up some serious debt,” she said. “Continuing my medical education meant piling up a lot more.”
Instead, she became a microbiologist doing important work for the Alabama Department of Health.
“I worked for a division that maintained close surveillance on the counties, monitoring the progress of different diseases,” Paquin said. “It was a great job.”
Unfortunately, due to state cutbacks, the chance for advancement was close to nil. And Paquin admits to being ambitious.
“I want to advance,” she said. “There just wasn’t that opportunity with the state.”
After three years with the health department, Paquin began researching new job opportunities. Chevron offered the best alternative.
“Oil pays so well,” she said. “It was a challenge, coming from a science background, to move into industry. But I did it.”
After three years as an operator Paquin qualified to join the volunteer emergency response team. What piqued her interest in the ERT was the possibility of using the skills from her previous career in what she was doing today.
“I’m someone who thinks that training can never hurt you,” she said. “It was a chance to keep my medical training up and keeping that involvement. And, hey, this could open a lot of doors.”
To date, the biggest fire she has fought was a live-fire training project during her visit to Brayton. Fortunately, the Pascagoula refinery is one of the diminishing few industrial facilities to still maintain its own fire training field.
“Without that field at home it would be tough for any primary care giver to join the ERT,” Paquin said. The ERT members qualify for overtime to train on alternate Thursdays, including live-fire training at their field.
However, Paquin said she insisted that the emergency response coordinator be honest with her regarding what she could contribute to the team.
“I don’t want to be a liability,” she said. “I don’t want to fill a quota or anything like that. I want to be useful.”
The response from Chevron has been overwhelmingly positive, she said.
“I was told ‘You just train and figure out where you fit in the organization,’” Paquin said. “I’ve experienced nothing but encouragement since I became involved.”