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Service Beyond Self - Dr. Peter Emblad '86

Peter Emblad M.D., FACEP, FAAEM is a busy man – he is a clinical physician practicing emergency medicine at Kaiser Permanente (he was previously head of the department), he brought the concept of a European balance bike to the United States (redesigning, manufacturing and selling it under the name Skuut), he’s married (to a fellow emergency room caretaker – physician’s assistant, Gillian Emblad), he’s a father of two, and he also finds time to volunteer, sometimes halfway around the world.
 
In 2009, Dr. Emblad took a sabbatical from his day job and went to work in a small local hospital in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, serving the indigenous people of that region. He and his wife were looking for a relatively impoverished country “to remind ourselves, and our kids, how the majority of the world lives. Living on a lake surrounded by volcanoes in a beautiful setting didn’t hurt.”
 
Dr. Emblad has also worked with New York City medics in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan which hit the islands in 2013.
 
“It was hard work: some days we saw over 600 patients, in austere conditions. We slept in tents. The damage was unfathomable, but the Filipinos we met were incredibly kind, optimistic and resilient. The stories they told will never leave me. One woman hung on to a palm tree and tried to hang on to her three kids when the wind was at its worst. Two of the kids slipped out of her grasp and were never found,” he explained. “How do you recover from something like that?”
 
Originally from San Francisco, Dr. Emblad came to Webb at the age of 16, which he describes as “a wakeup call to turn my life around.” Guided by that experience and the example of his childhood pediatrician, he enrolled in Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine, earning his medical degree in 1997. He received his B.S. in microbiology at the University of California at San Diego, completed his internship at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago and his residency in Boston. He joined Kaiser Permanente in 2001.


For several years, Dr. Emblad also served as the medical director for the Presidio Fire Department and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which encompasses all the open land north and south of San Francisco, including Alcatraz, Muir Woods, and Point Reyes Station. “This was particularly challenging,” said Dr. Emblad, “as many of those locations were fairly inaccessible. That job definitely kept me up at night.”
 
Dr. Emblad credits his Webb experience with changing his life: “I was unfocused and undisciplined when I was sent there. Webb taught me discipline, how to survive hard work, and the importance of developing guiding principles.”
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