Loooong Days

I can't complain too much. Things have gone relatively smoothly. Mostly. Sort of.

We've had a couple of hiccups. For starters, we didn't have a landline for communications and the shelter site has virtually no cell service. As a result, communication with our command post was about nil. Add to that the failure to schedule any people to work at the shelter besides a couple of nurses and a couple of doctors and I didn't have time to do any communicating anyway. I spent most of my (12 hour) shifts running around getting information to/from the other agencies at the shelter and trying to keep the clinic running smoothly. By the end of the 2nd day of shelter operations, we figured out that we needed a couple of clerks and yesterday we finally got a land line installed. Today we added a person dedicated to the phone/computer communication.

At the Regional Ops Center, we did start making a HUGE list of things to do differently next time. I'm trying to figure out a way to communicate critical information to everybody, even if someone's out of the room at hte time. Writing things down doesn't really work well. A twiki might do the trick, but would require people to be on/have access to a computer. Anyway, our operations are a work in progress. We're learning, but we're not doing too bad. I think the biggest lesson learned was to remember it's not just about the nurses and the docs. The 2nd biggest lesson was how critical regular communication is and to activate the entire Ops Center. I don't think it was even fully mobilized until the 2nd day of clinic operations. I thought the "RHOC Person" was myself or my counter parts on the other two shifts, since we'd been labelled that during the pre-planning sessions. Ooops.

Anyway, things aren't going quite as badly as I thought they might. The evacuees aren't really happy to have been evacuated, but have been remarkably polite, gracious and patient with their surroundings and the shelter operations. It could have been much worse.

It will be interesting to see the after action reports of all the agencies, though I suspect they won't be shared. The various agencies at our shelter sure don't seem to get along very well and sure as heck weren't/aren't working together as a TEAM to get the shelter running smoothly. At least one agency's lead person seems to think his biggest duty is to expound upon the failings of all the other agencies and heap derision on all others. Oddly enough, he has blamed other agencies for failing to do things that his agency is tasked with, according to the statewide plan. He's also pretty thoroughly convinced that the current residents of our shelter should have been left in New Orleans. No sympathy for them at all, just scorn and negative expectations.


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