Sunday, May 12, 2013

And the classes beat on

This week continued with our classroom training. And still continues now! In order to prepare us for the rigors of working in a disaster, they are running our training contiguously, every day and night, including weekends. So today, Mother’s Day, I am sitting in a class on how to write Incident Action Plans (IAPs). IAPs provide all the work direction for the federal and state response to a disaster. For Hurricane Sandy, these documents range in size upwards of 100 pages long. And a new one is produced each day for the next day’s work.

In addition to the IAP class, we spent the main part of the week in a management class. This covered everything a good federal supervisor needs to know – rules on promotions, training, feedback, reviews, working with unions, and general covering your ass tactics. All of these things are the drivers of why I never wanted to go into the management chain at IBM and choose to remain technical. Here in my position, I get to straddle the line of needing technical skills while also being a middle manager. When deployed in the field, I will have three managers under me each with their own team. The three teams will cover IT and networking, telephone and radio communications, and customer service and help desk. Also scrambled somewhere in there is TV and cable service as well.

Besides classes during the day, we have homework to do at night. This includes a list of over 50 online classes we need to complete by the end of the academy. To complement our classes, we also have three books to read. And finally, we had a paper to write for this week’s activities. This upcoming week should be interesting, fun, and partly terrifying. Monday starts with two classes on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and WebEOC, a web-based system for tracking and managing incidents. That is not the hard part. Tuesday through Saturday will be our Incident Management III course. If you remember my first post, I talked about levels from the lowest of 5 to the highest of 1. This is our level 3 test on the way to level 1 certification. Normally, teams work together for a couple years before taking the level 3 certification. We are taking it only 3 weeks in. That is the level they expect us to be at coming into this. As we take this test, we can pass or fail as a team, pass or fail as an individual, or a combination thereof. After this concludes next Saturday, we will be traveling to Washington, DC on Sunday with another full week ahead. So full speed ahead with classes and testing!

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