For the purpose of this review, we will stay focused on the EMA and CERT’s portion and interactions, as there were parts of the mass vaccination event in which we were not involved.
The mass vax event was held one mile into Miller County at the School of the Osage (SOTO). The Camden County EMA was considered the primary EMA involved as the event was originally meant to be held in Camden County. All of the CERT volunteers involved were members of Camden County CERT.
The EMA arrived on-scene at 0600 hours on March the 7th with two CERT volunteers to begin setting up breakfast for the National Guard. This breakfast, which was purchased from Hyvee, included bacon, eggs, hash browns, biscuits, sausage, gravy, orange juice, and coffee. Note: we learned we have to make more coffee ASAP!
As more volunteers arrived, two teams were established: Food Team and Courtesy Team. Courtesy Team, which was outside, began to set up the courtesy tent so that the National Guard and Osage Beach Police Department doing traffic control had a place to sit down and get some water or snacks.
Food Team, which was inside the building, spent much of the morning setting up tables and chairs in preparation for lunch with the help of the SOTO custodial liaison, Steve. Other members began to warm up and prepare the food with the help of the SOTO kitchen liaison, Cindy. The Camden County EMA bought the food from Woods Supermarket at a deep discount (nearly at cost). Woods Supermarket also provided the utensils used to serve the food, as well as the trays, cases, and other containers for transportation.
Starting at 1100, members of the National Guard, Osage Beach Police Department, Osage Beach Fire Protection District, Camden County EMA, Camden County CERT, AmeriCorps, Camden County Health Department, and Lake Regional Health Service began to eat lunch. There were some changes to procedure during that time, but Food Team made sure that everyone had a chance to get something to eat through the three-hour lunch period.
Lunch ended at about 1400. Food Team then moved outside to the courtesy tent to assist there. As the bulk of CERT’s job was done, several members signed out on both the CERT/EMA sign-out log and the hospital’s sign-out log before heading home. Now, reunited, CERT continued to provide courtesy tent support until it was time to demobilize at the end of the event.
We are so proud to have such great people volunteering for Camden County’s CERT program. They really came through and were thrilled to do something other than traffic control! We want to send a thank you to each and every one of them for giving their time on a Sunday to help the EMA and first responders. If you are curious about joining the Camden County CERT or even taking their FREE training, visit their website or contact CERT Coordinator Tim George at 573-480-3960!
During the event, we had a quick peek inside, where we saw Brenda Gerlach, Region F coordinator from the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency and Stephanie Dake, Administrator of the Camden County Health Department! We also saw how packed the commons area of the SOTO building was! Lake Regional Health Service Emergency Management Director Jennifer Newman acknowledged everything we needed to report to her and assisted us in straightening out some problems that we experienced as well.
While overall the event went very well, we had some challenges behind the scenes through which we worked.
On Saturday, March 6th, Camden County EMA brought our road sign out to set it up on Highway 42, only to have the sign malfunction and shut down. Luckily, EMAs don’t leave each other hanging. We put in a call to our fellow EMD in Cole County, Sierra Thomas, who allowed us to come up and get her road sign to use for the event. That sign is the one that everyone saw on March 7 as they were heading down 42 towards the school from 54.
We experienced quite the issue when it came to getting lunch distributed to the staff. The plan originally put into place, we were informed, was not going to work so we quickly formulated another plan to roll with, however we ended up being able to go back to the original plan of distribution and after that everything rolled smoothly! All of the health department, hospital staff, guardsmen, police officers, volunteers, and others who received lunches were extremely pleased with the quality meal options purchased from Woods Supermarket!
One of the things we were so excited to provide, thanks to a partnership with OATS Transit, was transportation of patients to the front of the school. We were absolutely thankful to have this ability on a Sunday when the company is normally closed. Driver Fran volunteered to come in to drive the bus in a continuous circuit and assist with this resource! She was absolutely charming, wonderful, and helpful to all of the passengers who rode her bus! We want to thank OATS Transit for providing us with the ability to provide this service and look forward to working with them for future mass vax events!
This brings up an area for improvement for what we can provide for future events. While the OATS bus was a blessing, it would’ve also been handy to have something smaller such as golf carts or UTVs to traverse the parking lots. We intend to look into being able to provide that service for the next mass vaccination event.
Using a baseball analogy, our first and second innings were rough, but we really came back for the third through ninth innings!
Just call us the Comeback Kids!