"We saw a police officer staring into the river next to the road, which we all proceeded to look into," Greiner explained. "And it was then that we realized we weren't exactly dealing with a cardiac arrest anymore."
Instead of performing CPR, Greiner and her team spent the next half hour retrieving a badly decomposed body from the banks of the Anacostia River.
"While it was just another day of being an emergency medican technician, it truly showed me that this is the type of job where every day, every shift and every call is different," Greiner said. "Emergency medical service is a career in which you never know what to expect and crazy happenings are just a small part of what makes me love the job so much because where else can a college kid say that they participated in a body recovery during their summer vacation!"
Seventeen Magazine captures Greiner's fearlessness in an upcoming feature story, "You Only Live Once," which is set to hit stands May 22 in the magazine's June/July issue.
In addition to her job as an EMT, the University of Maryland sophomore also balances a full course load, an internship with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) and bi-weekly rehearsals for the university's award-winning ballroom dancing club.
You only live once
Raised in Bogota, N.J., 19-year-old Greiner began training for her EMT-Basic certificate after a boy she dated her senior year of high school told her she wouldn't make the cut.
"I was livid," she said. "I had to show him up." And not only did Greiner prove her doubter wrong, she also fell in love with the emergency medical field in the process.
"It was challenging because I was deathly afraid of needles at the time. But when you're thrown into the gauntlet like that?when someone's life is dependent on getting an IV or an epinephrine injection, for instance?adrenaline takes over, and you just tell yourself 'you can't pass out now!'"
Two-and-a-half years later, Greiner is a needle-sticking pro and a fully certified EMT, alternating weekend and night shifts between four different stations during the school-year?one of which, Holy Name Medical Center, is located more than four hours from the university.
When asked why she's stuck with it, Greiner explains, "Being an EMT is like having a giant extended family. It gives me a sense of belonging. Not only do I have my Station 34 and Terp Host EMT families in Maryland, but I also have three more families back in New Jersey?and that doesn't include my real one! I'm so happy I didn't give in to other people's doubts because the feeling I got when I became a fully certified EMT?something I had to work so hard for?was empowering."
A girl on a mission
Greiner's determination extends far beyond her achievements as an EMT, however. Ever since elementary school, Greiner knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up?a counterterrorism agent.
Her family lived a mere five miles from New York City when 9/11 happened. She remembers watching the smoke rise from the Twin Towers from her front lawn and seeing people covered in dust and debris run across the George Washington Bridge.
"A lot of people in my neighborhood knew someone who died, or was injured or missing because of 9/11; and it was pretty much then that my best friend who lived across the street and I decided we wanted to take down the terrorists who did this to our city," Greiner said.
Unlike many of her peers who chose which college to attend based on the school's athletic record or party-school reputation, Greiner decided to enroll at the University of Maryland for the sheer fact that the school offers an undergraduate minor in terrorism studies.
"I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do before I even came to the university," she explained. "I researched the application process and how you had to have a certain number of credits, and I thought, 'Perfect! I'll apply during my sophomore year, and I'll do an internship before that.'" Sure enough, in fall 2011 Greiner began interning for START's special projects division, coding and writing case summaries for the POICN (Profiles of Incidents involving CBRN by Non-state Actors) database.
Greiner's future as a counterterrorism agent looks bright. Not even two hours after she spoke with START News about her experiences, she learned that she was one of six students accepted into START's Emerging Global Security Issues Fellowship Program (EGSI), a particularly competitive career development program for students interested in the homeland security industry.