Sunday, August 25, 2013

Still in Missouri

We are moving into week 3 here at the JFO in Jefferson City.  So far the IT work has been good.  I have been learning a ton about the processes and methods they follow here.  I have gotten a few things signed off on but will hopefully get a lot more this week.  Tuesday I am going to be teaching two iPad classes, similar to the ones I taught down in Anniston.  Wednesday I am hoping to attend the C&G Staff meeting, as that is another one of my checks.  And Friday I am teaching a Weather Basics for FEMA employees.  I put this together for the IMAT Academy but we never had time to get to it.  So I get to test run the class here and see how it goes!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My First Deployment!

While we are still in the process of getting settled in Washington, DC, a wonderful "learning" opportunity presented itself.  With the recent flooding in Missouri, a JFO (Joint Field Office) was established in the capital of Jefferson City.  In order to work on getting all of our qualification PTB (Position Task Books) signed off, a select group of eight of us were sent here, including me!  My PTB includes 111 skills, tasks, and events that I must complete under supervision to prove I can do my job - the ultimate practical exam!

On Tuesday I flew to St. Louis and then drove over to Jefferson City.  Today was my first day at FEMA DR 4130 MO.  With lots of meetings and a long check in process, its time to get down to work.  Tomorrow we are traveling 5 hours away to evaluate a new remote office location for IT and Communication needs.  More to come as this progresses!

Bonus:  There is a strong storm brewing out near Africa that looks like it will affect the US.  We are maybe 5 days away from going out, to get there 120 hours pre-landfall.

Dash to Nashville?

Last Friday was suppose to be the first day I started my new working late schedule (9:00 to 5:30) in the office. Alas that would have to wait. At 6 a.m. my phone went off with the wonderful klaxon alarm. That ring tone is set aside for just one number: the ENS. ENS is our Emergency Notification System that alerts us to all things of a critical nature. This ENS notice told us to report to the office by 8 a.m. and be in Nashville by 8 p.m. that night.  So I jump in the shower, grab some breakfast, and get to the office at 6:45. We start loading up all of our gear including our portable satellite system, the GATR.

We have a briefing at 8:00 and they inform us we will not actually be traveling all the way to Nashville. Instead, we are driving down to the local grocery store, rally there, and return to the office. Once back home, we have to set up an office and start working using nothing but power at our existing offices.  I set up three redundant layers of satellite communications (GATR above, BGAN left, and Iridium below), just to prove we are self sufficient.  They reviewed all of our equipment and made sure everyone had everything they should need, right down to our clothes.  Luckily, they did not count our underwear (this time).

Finally, at noon, they told us we passed (for the most part) and that we could take everything down.  We packed everything up, put the stuff away, and then took off for the weekend.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Made it to DC

Well, I did it.  I made the trek out to DC.  Following our training, I was able go home to Minnesota for just over a week.  I got to hang out with all my friends there and get stuff packed up to come out to DC.  Rather, I have been informed I have moved to DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia area) or NoVA (Northern Virginia).  If I say DC, apparently that just means DC proper.  When I told my landlord I was working in DC she said I didn't want to rent from her because it was too far away.  Once I explained it was only about 10 miles, she was much relieved.

So after that brief time in Minnesota, it was a two day drive out here, stopping overnight in Ohio.  While the carpets were getting cleaned at my new place, I spent a couple nights in a hotel and went into work.  So far I am still just getting a handle on everything there.  There is a lot of new equipment and that state of all of it is unknown.  This means testing and evaluating everything - every cord, every plug, every device.  For example, I have two really nice NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices.  One is perfect and complete; the other had most of the hard drives ripped out of it.  But from the outside, they appear identical.

Plus, while I am trying to get a handle on what we do have that is functional, they want to get out in the field.  We are their shiny new toy and they want to play with us, not keep us in our box (office).  So maybe sometime this next week they will send us out on something small.