Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Scientist Professional Advisory Committee

Hurricane Maria Response, 2017 

By LT Shayne Gallaway

Epidemiologist
Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  

What was the mission of this deployment?

I initially deployed with Coqui-2A on Oct. 25 to San Juan, Puerto Rico to stand up the Federal Medical Station (FMS) in Bayamon. Subsequently, I transferred to Coqui-2B (Oct. 31-Nov. 17) to provide logistics support to the FMS in Ponce.

 

What was your role during this deployment?

Chief Logistics Officer for night-shift operations. Skills used: planning, organization, forecasting, people management, and sense of humor.

 

Was this your first deployment?

Yes, first PHS deployment. Had previously been on several DoD deployments.

 

What was the most important thing you learned during this deployment?

It’s not about you. Be flexible in every way. Don't become part of the problem. Be prepared to do anything on any given day. There is no task too small to do well.

 

What did you enjoy the most about this deployment?

Meeting and working with officers from other categories and agencies. Helping people who were not in a position to help themselves.

 

What would you consider to be your major accomplishment stemming from this deployment?

Developed processes to forecast 100% of supplies, ensuring that despite extended wait times for delivery of items, the Ponce FMS never depleted supplies needed for critical care of patients. This ensured that clinical and life-saving care and wraparound services could be provided to approximately 68 patients, including 66 adults and 2 children, and their caregivers at the Bayamon and Ponce Federal Medical Stations.

 

What were some of the challenges that you experienced during this deployment?

Difficulty obtaining supplies at FMS in Ponce. Ever changing billeting situation. Communication among all parties (RedDOG, PHS, Agency) prior to getting out the door. Waiting.

 

How did you prepare for the deployment – personally or work-wise?

Ensured that promotion and COER documents were drafted before I left. Sought advice from others who had previously deployed, including a couple who had deployed to Puerto Rico with PHS before me. Made arrangements for a caregiver for my spouse who had surgery prior to my deployment. Made arrangements for all bills to be paid automatically. Packed, repacked, and then packed again. Ensured I could access work email on personal cell phone.

 

Do you have any advice or “pearls of wisdom” for fellow officers who are being deployed/interested in deploying?

No one will tell you this, but ... field deployments are not for every PHS Officer. You must be prepared to be a small piece of much larger fuzzy puzzle, and to not always have answers to all your questions. Your role will change or be unclear at times, and you may be asked to do things that don't seem important. There is no unimportant task. If you are willing to do anything to help others, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share regarding your deployment?

This deployment validated my reasons for transferring to PHS from DoD. I wanted to have the opportunity to deploy on public health responses. It was a great privilege to deploy with a PHS team to Puerto Rico and see the difference from my other agency deployments. I'd gladly do it all over again if given the opportunity.

 

 

  

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