Meet the Polar Star crew – HS1 Elizabeth Pyanowski

Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth Pyanowski, a health services technician, is deployed aboard the Coast Guard Polar Star for the cutter’s 2016-2017 deployment to Antarctica in support of the National Science Foundation’s U.S. Antarctic Program, Jan. 5, 2017. Pyanowski is deployed from her current duty station at the Coast Guard Clinic in Kodiak, Alaska. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley.

Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth Pyanowski, a health services technician, is deployed aboard the Coast Guard Polar Star for the cutter’s 2016-2017 deployment to Antarctica in support of the National Science Foundation’s U.S. Antarctic Program, Jan. 5, 2017. Pyanowski is deployed from her current duty station at the Coast Guard Clinic in Kodiak, Alaska. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley.

HS1 Elizabeth Pyanowski is deployed aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star as part of its mission to assist in the annual resupply of U.S. Antarctic Program research stations. The National Science Foundation manages the U.S. Antarctic Program.

BACKGROUND:
Name/rate/rank: HS1 Elizabeth Pyanowski
Number of trips to Antarctica: 1st trip
Unit/department: Base Kodiak Clinic, TDY to Polar Star (full trip deployment)

Q. Where is your hometown?
A. Buffalo, NY (born and raised, family is still there)

Q. How long have you been in the Coast Guard?
A. Almost 8 years now (March 17th is 8)

Q. Why did you join the Coast Guard? Why do you stay/what keeps you motivated?
A. I joined to get a job, but that desire turned into a drive to prove to myself and a close friend that I could do it. I absolutely love what I do. I like to help people. Just a simple thanks means a lot, especially when it is from a fellow crew member.

Q. What is your unit history?
A. Non-rate on the 378 Munro, HS “A” school, Juneau, AK health clinic, Base Cape Cod health clinic and Base Kodiak health clinic. I am temporarily deployed to the Polar Star.

Q. What are some of your responsibilities on Polar Star?
A. My main responsibilities are environmental and sanitation, including ensuring that our water is safe for consumption and that the ship’s crew is not impacted by the extreme temperatures while underway. I also help keep track of food safety and sanitation and maintain inventory of the various medical supplies on board. Lastly, I assist the physician’s assistant officer in caring for crew members and help to train the crew to respond to medical emergencies.

Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth Pyanowski, the health services technician deployed aboard the Coast Guard Polar Star, tests a sample of the ship’s water to ensure it is safe for the crew to use for drinking, cooking and bathing, Jan. 5, 2017. Pyanowski manages many responsibilities while underway including helping the onboard physician’s assistant with taking care of the day-to-day health of the crew and checking the safety of the ship’s water. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley.

Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth Pyanowski, the health services technician deployed aboard the Coast Guard Polar Star, tests a sample of the ship’s water to ensure it is safe for the crew to use for drinking, cooking and bathing, Jan. 5, 2017. Pyanowski manages many responsibilities while underway including helping the onboard physician’s assistant with taking care of the day-to-day health of the crew and checking the safety of the ship’s water. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley.

Q. What do you do on a typical duty day?
A. Each day is dependent upon the overall conditions found on the boat. If there are heat stress possibilities, I will conduct tests to ensure the safety of the crew members. I help with sick call, with most issues being motion sickness. Occasionally, we have other emergency situations, which recently included a head laceration and a few finger injuries.

Q. What’s your most memorable experience on Polar Star? Why?
A. Swim call, jumping off the flight deck and being able to see and swim with a whale shark. It was a priceless opportunity!

Q. Why is this mission (Operation Deep Freeze) important? How do you/your crew contribute?
A. As a unit, I feel it is important because we make it possible for others to do their mission, allowing them to continue to do their studies in Antarctica. I also understand how important this is because I’ve lived in places where I know what it is like to wait on essential shipments to get there and the potential impact to the community or unit if they don’t arrive.

Q. What do you do for fun when not on duty (on or off the ship)? Hobbies?
A. I like to knit. I also love to sponsor the onboard spin classes. I support and follow my favorite football team…the Patriots! I really enjoy hiking and I excited about the hiking option in Antarctica. My dog was just certified as a therapy dog. My mother took her through the test while I have been deployed and she passed with flying colors. She is a yellow Labrador named Denali, and I am working with her to help those who have been through critical stress situations. I am really proud of my dog and it is special that I got her from a retired coastie.

Q. Anything else you’d like for us to know/include?
A. I would encourage anyone who thinks they are a die-hard sailor to take a posting here on Polar Star. This job will challenge you in ways you would never expect; it is a great unit.

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