In the complex landscape of emergency management, where the unexpected can swiftly become a reality, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers often stands up a Recovery Field Office to oversee the management and execution of Federal Emergency Management Agency mission assignments.
An important role that leads to the success and execution of mission objectives is the operations chief. Being an operations chief involves a multifaceted set of responsibilities that include overseeing resource allocation, communication channels and logistical support. They are the nerve center of an emergency recovery mission and are responsible for translating strategy into action.
Beth Crutcher, a program analyst in the emergency management division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, is on Maui supporting the Hawai‘i Wildfires Recovery mission as the Recovery Field Office Operations Chief.
Crutcher’s area of responsibility includes overseeing the mission’s planning and response teams, GIS support, local government liaisons, records management, and the enterprise emergency response team.
One of Crutcher’s main responsibilities is to ensure that effective communication channels among response teams and mission command are established and maintained.
She acts as a liaison between the teams she oversees, the Hawai‘i Wildfires Recovery Field Office Commander and the RFO Chief of Staff.
This role is crucial because Crutcher manages the flow of information up and down the chain of command to make sure she provides timely and accurate updates, so leadership can make informed decisions.
Some items tracked within that flow include ensuring daily accountability of all RFO personnel, facilitating cultural training, and troubleshooting any issues that may arise for the teams.
The biggest issue that Crutcher has had to trouble shoot during her time on Maui, is ensuring that team members in the field have access to working technology.
“Over the last few weeks there were issues with devices not working for some of our field personnel,” said Crutcher. “This is a problem because our field personnel use apps to track processes, so they need their devices to work.”
To combat the issue, Crutcher had to coordinate with multiple teams including EERT and field personnel to find a solution that ensured all field personnel have working devices when they leave the RFO.
While the problem was quickly addressed, it was really Crutcher’s ability to quickly identify the issue and route it to the correct team to fix it before it became a bigger problem, potentially impeding the mission.
Although Crutcher seamlessly transitioned into her role at the RFO, this is her first time working in one.
“I’ve had a lot of personal development here and have learned lessons that I can take back to my district and apply,” said Crutcher.
As with everyone who has had a chance to come to Maui and assist with the recovery mission, it too has had a profound impact on Crutcher.
“To see such a big group of people working towards one common goal, to help the people of Maui recover, is an amazing and humbling thing to see and experience.”