Teamwork keeps Hawaii Wildfire Response EFO communicating during unexpected move
Terrence Stitt with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Enterprise Emergency Response Team prepares a router at the Emergency Field Office during a move to a new location. The Logistics Planning and Response Team along with the EERT collaborate with businesses to obtain locations with sufficient resources to support recovery operations. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Charles Delano) (Photo Credit: Charles Delano) VIEW ORIGINAL

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel must be flexible to work in a variety of locations when responding to emergency operations. With limited space on Maui, there are few options for workspaces to support the Hawaii Wildfire Recovery mission. The Logistics Planning and Response Team along with Enterprise Emergency Response Team have been collaborating with businesses to obtain locations with sufficient resources to support recovery operations.

Connectivity and proximity to worksites are two key requirements that the LPRT and EERT must consider to enable the Emergency Field Office and Recovery Field Office to communicate in real time with USACE subject matter experts, local government liaisons, quality assurance, contractors, and local, state and federal partners.

This flexibility was put to the test as the Federal Emergency Management Agency notified USACE that they will stand down operations by the end of February 2024 at their current location at a hotel in Kāʻanapali about six miles from Lahaina. The notification by FEMA prompted the EFO to relocate due to the hotel needing the space.

“The hotel staff was very supportive with identifying a new location that suited our needs,” said Will Ristom, LPRT team lead.

Through a coordinated effort between U.S. Army Capt. Chris Price, EFO battle captain, FEMA facilities, and USACE Honolulu District Emergency Manager Greg Deleon, a new location within the same hotel was identified.

“The new location will provide a better option for conferencing with Quality Assurance personnel in the field as well as the RFO,” said Price. “The LPRT was quick to assist with the physical move and EERT worked to resolve networking issues at the new location.”

Terrence Stitt and Spencer McMillan with the EERT worked quickly to relocate routers, switches, conference phone, printer and satellite uplink while the LPRT assisted with the physical move of equipment.

“We have learned to communicate early and to be proactive,” said Stitt. “It is even more critical when working in an environment not under the control of USACE.”

Through teamwork, the EFO maintained recovery operations throughout the relocation.

“I am proud of the ability of our team to adapt and overcome,” said Price. “They are true professionals who will ensure the mission succeeds no matter the work location.”