Sunday, February 28, 2010

Red Cross Technology Leadership Summit

We are at the Embassy Suites Tucson — Paloma Village (map), where the Disaster Services Technology Leadership Summit has been held over the past three days. While we've had a room at the hotel, we've been sleeping in the parking lot, since it's the only time all day we get to be with the pets. We have, however, been showering in the room; after hundreds of "navy" showers a year, it's nice every now and then to be able to luxuriate under a fully running shower head for a few minutes.

The summit meeting has been great. Out of some 60+ people at the meeting, there were perhaps a dozen we'd never met, and even then, we'd worked with half of those remotely. Some folks we had not seen in three or four years, and it was great to see everyone and catch up. We also heard first-rate presentations from the head of the Disaster Operations Center, the head of Disaster Staffing, and our boss, the head of Disaster Services Technology.

In addition to these informative presentations, we were also briefed by the Technology activity leads on various changes to our technology portfolio and forthcoming procedure changes to accommodate them. Louise and I are both on the teams that write the procedures and develop the training around them, so it looks like we have some work ahead of us.

The meeting was very upbeat and positive, and we got plenty of kudos for the job we have been doing over the past few years. We also took our lumps, as we generally got called on the carpet for failing to work together as a team in some cases, personality clashes, and infighting interfering with our ability to deliver exceptional customer service. Although that message may have been lost on some, I think each of us has room for improvement, and we've made a mental note to be sensitive to this on future operations.

Of course, the Chile earthquake occurred during the summit, along with the threat of a destructive tsunami in Hawaii. Tom, the lone technology manager in Hawaii was, of course, with us in the meeting; he spent a great deal of the day on the phone to his chapter. Mark, one of our international representatives was also there, freshly returned from Haiti, and he gave a nice presentation on his work there. It is not out of the question that he might soon be redeployed to Chile, although unlikely. We're having dinner with him tonight, and it will be interesting to hear his thoughts on this.

By early this afternoon, most folks were already on their way to to the airport. We had hoped to spend the afternoon around the pool, which has been taunting us just outside the meeting room windows all weekend. Today, however, it is cold and rainy here, so we've missed our window of opportunity. Our HHonors Gold late checkout was for naught. We were a bit distressed to learn, by the way, that the Red Cross had sprung for a room for us, which we clearly did not need. However, it was explained to us that they had previously contracted a guaranteed number of rooms for the event, and so the room we "occupied" would have been paid for regardless.

From here we will head back to the Desert Diamond Casino near the airport, to settle in for a few days while we figure out where to head next, and what our schedule will be.

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