Day in the Fields: Volunteering at the Special Olympics NA Golf Tournament

I’m taking a task-less moment to document the fun I’ve been having. This is Day Two of my volunteering gig I got with the Emergency Management Group-Washington who is deployed to support the North American Golf Championship for the Special Olympics.

20170626_145441.jpgYesterday, I was on the Seattle campus of University of Washington (UW) in a little conference room in the basement of a faraway building watching various monitors and chasing details. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) takes note of potential threats, plans, daily schedules, contact information for liaising groups, keeps radios charged, and holds first aid equipment for off duty med staffers. It is the information hub and it’s run–today at least–by 4 hardworking, always cheerful, and ever-dedicated women and overseen by the experienced and knowledgeable Director who sometimes drops by to fix the wobbly internet. I sat at a long table with my tiny laptop and watched TweetDeck (our Twitter aggregator) update languidly. I delved deep into the hinterlands of NOAA to find the exact right weather report for tomorrow. (We need to tell the med tent if they should expect heat stroke). I listened to a UW representative who had dropped by for a radio describe what their crisis management office was up to. It was a quiet day–pretty much ideal for our line of work.

20170628_120624Today, I’m following the Director around on the golf course itself. We’re mostly based at the med tent which is staffed with two doctors and two EMTs on golf carts. It’s very quiet today and comfortably cool. We’ve had some radio problems, but otherwise all is running smoothly.

While we are here to protect the health and safety of the athletes and volunteers, we’re also treating this as a practice run for The Special Olympics golf tournament in 2018 which will see thousands more athletes, and many more spectators and volunteers. We’re collecting notes and opinions about the event to include in an After Action Report which will help us plan next year better.

We take a break in the clubhouse (where there’s power outlets) to gather some information. Yesterday, we heard about a townhall meeting being hosted on the UW campus concerning an incendiary social-justice topic. There might be protesters which line or block the path our athletes were going to use to get home tonight. No one is expecting the protectors to be violent, but we’ve also seen how these things quickly escalate and it’s our job to be extra safety-conscious especially since we’re supporting our own sometimes-vulnerable population. So the leadership staff spent last evening developing an alternate transportation plan and today, the Director made the finishing touches and sent it out to all his staff. My job was to research and verify the protest (we’d heard conflicting reports). I felt all my Millenial training come to my aid–finally it was good for something–as I scoured the internet for signs of unrest. Exactly one of the words I reported made it into the plan. And it was paraphrased.

Still, I like contributing. I’m learning a lot and am grateful for the opportunity to meet my ilk. Here’s to those behind the scenes. Great job.

Update: Nothing happened at the protests. The athletes were walked home via a different path and didn’t even seem to notice the change. I’m glad.

 

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