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Thursday, 8 September 2005
The Curious Case of the Thousand Firefighters.
One thing that is certain about Katrina is that information, is incomplete at the best and purposely slanted at the worst.

I will admit when I first glanced at the following my reaction, was, typically stupid.

More on the Idiots at FEMA

I’m sorry. I was going to stop posting about politics and Hurricane Katrina at the same time, but I can’t resist at least one more. Is this
or is this not self-evidently idiotic? (Somehow I missed it the last time around.)

Not long after some 1,000 firefighters sat down for eight hours of training, the whispering began: "What are we doing here?"

As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for firefighters - his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week - a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta. . . .

The firefighters, several of whom are from Utah, were told to bring backpacks, sleeping bags, first-aid kits and Meals Ready to Eat. They were told to prepare for "austere conditions." Many of them came with awkward fire gear and expected to wade in floodwaters, sift through rubble and save lives.
"They've got people here who are search-and-rescue certified, paramedics, haz-mat certified," said a Texas firefighter. "We're sitting in here having a sexual-harassment class while there are still [victims] in Louisiana who haven't been contacted yet."

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

But then I did an uncommon thing, it seems there is a lack of these last few days, I looked for more information, because it seemed SO dumb. I followed
the link. I found some interesting details.

Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers.
Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.
On Monday, some firefighters stuck in the staging area at the Sheraton peeled off their FEMA-issued shirts and stuffed them in backpacks, saying they refuse to represent the federal agency.
Federal officials are unapologetic.
"I would go back and ask the firefighter to revisit his commitment to FEMA, to firefighting and to the citizens of this country," said FEMA spokeswoman Mary Hudak.
The firefighters - or at least the fire chiefs who assigned them to come to Atlanta - knew what the assignment would be, Hudak said.
"The initial call to action very specifically says we're looking for two-person fire teams to do community relations," she said. "So if there is a breakdown [in communication], it was likely in their own departments."
One fire chief from Texas agreed that the call was clear to work as community-relations officers. But he wonders why the 1,400 firefighters FEMA attracted to Atlanta aren't being put to better use. He also questioned why the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - of which FEMA is a part - has not responded better to the disaster.

Let me repeat a portion of the above for those who may have missed it.

"The initial call to action very specifically says we're looking for two-person fire teams to do community relations,"

Now I am going to step back and pretend I am a FEMA officer in Atlanta.

We have a Disaster Area. We are trying to ship in food, supplies, shelter and materials to render aid to the victims. We ALSO have to ship in all of the above to support the Recovery Workers. There are some tedious, on the surface not too important jobs that still need to be done, going around giving information to the victims. It sounds like a bit more is involved than just telling folks how great FEMA is.

I will admit there seems to have been an attempt to trivialise the task more than it is.

Anyway you have a task, you have send out a specific request to fill the need for this task, You have supplies in place to support the tasking 3000 meals a day, so many gallons of water, cots, shelter etc etc. This is called LOGISTICS.

Your volunteers show up and promptly inform you that they do not WANT to perform the function that you sent out a volunteer request for.

That their training will be wasted if you use them for that purpose.

As it turns out they are quite correct their valuable training will be wasted in this function.

Where exactly does that leave you? You STILL need the task performed.

And of COURSE it is all YOUR fault for being SO stupid as to ask for volunteers to perform a specific role and expect them to do so.

Its a real mixup and these firefighters talents WILL be wasted, but for those who have gotten so hysterical and decided that this is a perfect example of how stupid FEMA is?

Go to a job interview sometime, and if you are hired, on your first day of work, tell your new boss you don't feel like doing what you were hired to do, but are willing to inform him of what he SHOULD have you work on.

There was one other factor.

But Louis H. Botta, a coordinating officer for FEMA, said sending out firefighters on community relations makes sense. They already have had background checks and meet the qualifications to be sworn as a federal employee. They have medical training that will prove invaluable as they come across hurricane victims in the field.

Wow they wanted to send out teams that could actually also respond with emergency treatment if needed.

How shortsighted of them.


Posted by ky/kentuckydan at 5:47 AM CDT
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Updated: Thursday, 8 September 2005 5:59 AM CDT

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