Incident Commander Les Rogers in front of the Texas A&M Forest Service and FDNY command trailers. The Lone Star State IMT is transitioning the New York Sandy Support mission back to FDNY this week.
One of the longest-serving employees of Texas A&M Forest Service, Boo Walker began deploying with incident management teams more than 25 years ago.
Walker is the agency’s fire training coordinator and holds qualifications in firefighting and numerous fields of air operations. On the New York assignment, Walker is serving as Deputy Operations Section Chief, coordinating with the National Guard on completing surveys and distributing commodities.
This isn’t his first rodeo; he’s been deploying to hurricane recovery assignments since Andrew struck in 1992.
“Back then, I’d never run a distribution center before, but I learned how and we did it,” he said. “I think that’s what we’re able to contribute on these assignments. We analyze problems and propose solutions.”
On assignment in New York, the Operations Section has identified residents in need and provided for them.
“We built on FDNY’s good foundation, and we’ve done something they wanted us to do – establish an end point,” he said. “I’m confident this mission will be complete by Jan. 20.”
Walker went on to say that he’s learned a lot from working with cooperators, including the Army National Guard, AmeriCorps and employees of New York City.
“I have a real appreciation for how New York responds to their citizens and reaches out to them,” he said. “All the government employees we’ve worked with have been exceptional, but the Office of Emergency Management really goes out of their way to help people.”
This assignment marks the second holiday this year that Walker has spent helping the citizens of New York. He deployed during Thanksgiving with two others to set up a central warehouse for supplies.
“I have a very understanding family,” he said when asked about the sacrifice responders make to help others, even when it means leaving behind their own loved ones on the holidays. The team deployed for its current assignment the day after Christmas and is working two weeks into the New Year.
“They get it,” Walker explained in reference to his family. “They know that Dad leaves town so other dads get to go home safe.”
Vince Hancock, left, and Keith Vaughn have become fast friends over the past three weeks.
Hancock, a battalion chief with the Midland Fire Department, and Vaughan, a firefighter with Texas A&M Forest Service, met for the first time when they deployed to New York for a Hurricane Sandy recovery assignment with the Lone Star State Incident Management Team.
Working as branch directors, the men go out in the field daily with members of the Army National Guard to assess the well-being of residents affected by the storm. Fortunately, they both have big hearts and friendly personalities, endearing them to everyone they meet. Hancock is known to make sure that he gets a photo of the new friends he meets each day.
The men are part of a massive team effort to distribute heaters and ensure that residents of Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island have a warm, safe, private place to stay.
District Forester, Texas A&M Forest Service
Position with Lone Star State IMT: Situation Unit Leader
Pope is serving as the Lone Star State IMT’s Situation Unit Leader. The person assigned to Situation Unit Leader, which falls under the Planning Section, is responsible for collecting, processing and organizing all incident information. For the Sandy Support incident in New York, Pope’s unit also creates maps, shares pertinent weather information with the team and provides intelligence that could affect daily operations.
Resource Specialist, Texas A&M Forest Service
Position with Lone Star State Incident Management Team: Medical Unit Leader
As the team’s Medical Unit Leader, Spence is responsible for preparing a medical plan, providing for the safety and welfare of those assigned to the incident and activating and supervising a medical unit. The medical unit leader reports to the Logistics Section Chief. On assignment in New York, Spence is also assisting other functions of the incident including facilities, base camp management and supply.