Deepwater Horizon Day 9: A Day in the Life

0500: Alarm erupts, then immediately regrets decision due to being pummeled; get out of bed; stumble to shower; realize that I was convinced by Teri to sleep in an hour; grumble; stumble back to bed, reset alarm.

0505-0555: Unable to sleep; develop to do lists, contingency plans, needed edits to PowerPoint webinar in head; grumble; fall asleep.

0600: Alarm erupts (not very smart), again later regretting its decision; get out of bed; shower; decide which OWCN logo shirt to wear; check email on phone; grumble; head to hotel lobby; coffee #1; grab banana; head to car.

0630-0645: Drive from Houma to Schriever; catch news on radio; eat banana; further mentally edit PowerPoint.

0645: Arrive BP Houma Command Post; scan nametag in at security; coffee #2; get granola bar; set up computer in Wildlife room; answer emails from partners; start daily log in handy-dandy blue spill notebook (see photo in previous blog entry Alison won’t let me remove); discuss days plan with Teri, coming up with a deliriously ambitious to do list; grumble (did I mention I am not much of a morning person?).

0700-0720: Deal with coffees 1 & 2; get coffee #3; call Ken, Wildlife Branch Director at Mobile Incident Command Post, giving updated numbers (57 dead sea turtles & 2 dolphins, none of which are apparently oiled); discuss current booming plans for potential turtle nesting beaches.

0720-0800: Answer emails to Blair (SE mammal stranding network coordinator) regarding concerns on health and safety training; discuss equipment and supply needs and personnel requirements for facilities; fill out Resource Request Forms (ICS 213RR for the IC nerds) for all; follow up on previous orders; grumble; check in with Gary (NOAA SSC and a truly stand-up person) in the Environmental Unit; check in with Rhonda, Houma Wildlife Branch Director.

0800-0830: Participate in Wildlife Branch meeting, discussing field operational issues but multitasking by editing PowerPoint for webinar; grumble at Greg for altering previous versions of PowerPoint by adding click, whistles and gizmos; wish I had finished PowerPoint the night before; grumble; coffee #3; answer calls from Sherry in the field visiting turtle facilities; leave meeting to set up webinar in the one closet…er…conference room available near the Wildlife area.

0830-0900: Set up webinar; realize I haven’t set up a webinar on the fly in a similar manner before; panic; realize it will all be fine; further tweak PowerPoint slides; realize that Teri will be watching the slides over my shoulder while I give presentation; panic.

0900-1000: Present webinar on mammal and sea turtle chain of custody, sampling, processing, initial intake and necropsy issues to over 40 local leads for the OMTU (10 points for those of you who can remember this acronym); remember at last minute to push record button to capture webinar; try to multitask by answering questions popping up on screen while giving presentation; finish and lean back in exultation that it was over; realize that I hadn’t turned off mic and camera before  leaning back – do so; grumble.

1000-1015: Discuss with Teri how to address additional questions and concerns brought up during webinar; come up w/ game plan; return to Wildlife room; take reports delivered by Wildlife Hotline and call regional turtle stranding coordinators to investigate; answer emails from partners.

1015-1045: Talk w/ Sylvia about media interest; speak with CBC; check in with Disposal section of Environmental Unit on status of disposal plan for two FL facilities; give NOAA folks in Envt Unit a hard time while swiping a Swedish Fish (a weakness of mine – a practice tip, the EU always has the best snacks); call MS regional coordinator and give additional stranding report; call Michele at Audubon Aquarium and check in on local facility.

1045-1100: Speak with Brigid at MS Board of Animal Health regarding licensure issues on out-of-state vets in MS; explain overall system; come up w/ initial plan and leave message for Director; grumble; coffee #4.

1100-1130: Speak with Science and AVMA on ongoing efforts, emphasizing the role of a strong scientific basis for effective response as well as the increased roles of veterinarians in such efforts (and gave props to the wildlife and zoo vets who have offered to help if the need is there).

1130-1200: Work with LA Dept. of Wildlife & Fisheries on reports of dolphins in survey area; develop sampling and documentation plan if needed should stranded dead animals not be able to be transported; call Blair to confirm plan; answer emails from partners and facilities; send questioning emails to follow up on outstanding issues; speak with Liz, our liaison at the Mobile Incident Command (and doing a fabulous job after only 1.5 days), on how things are going there; review manatee response plan in final format.

1200-1230: Have lunch with Teri (and am pleasantly surprised a vegetarian item is available – not so much here so far); switch to Diet Coke (not the preferred vehicle but any caffeinated port in a storm); discuss the “must do” items on our to do list; try to ignore Teri’s phone vibrating on table every 20 sec; discuss art, philosophy, the merits of Descartes philosophies and the fact that the field behind the Command Center has disappeared to become overflow parking.

1230-1300: Answer calls received over lunch; answer emails from OMTU partners (again, 10 points for remembering); pester Logistics again for information on freezer trucks to Audubon; steal another Swedish Fish (shameless!); collect animal number info to provide for 1300 update; look at to do list again with Teri to see what really really needs to be done; grumble; answer call from Carol at Mobile ICC wanting turtle nesting expert for AP article; quickly pass Carol over to Sandy of FWS, our resident turtle nest guru; speak with Michele at Audubon on turtle/sample transport plans from field teams.

1300-1330: Call Brian to discuss plans for turtle necropsies beginning this weekend; confirm getting a technician to assist, plus logistics for Shane, vet at SC Aquarium, to assist at IMMS; provide animal numbers again to USCG representative; grumble; answer emails from OMTU staff (no points this time); calm Teri down; Teri calming me down; both of us marvel that it is 1330 already; review to do list; grumble; diet coke #2.

1330-1400: Speak with Dept. of Interior rep on animal reports; let Teri know I spoke w/ Dept. of Interior about animal reports; speak with Tracy of NMFS enforcement about chain of custody, photo and sampling plans (he was good with all of them); talk with Nancy of the MS Animal Health Dept; develop plan for vets working in MS on this event (need copies of license and certificates of good standing); celebrate.

1400-1500: Answered and sent emails (and made calls) to OMTU folks; received calls from Hotline and sent on to regional coordinators; checked in w/ Rhonda about animal reports, assets currently in place (for the ever-popular ICS 215) & clarified which assets required official Resource Requests; checked in w/ Liz in the Mobile ICC; diet coke #3.

1500-1600: Had general check-in conference call (yes, back in the closet) with Teri and the lead OMTU folks; discussed standardization of necropsy forms, staffing and equipment deliveries and needs, current reports of animals, turtle nesting plan (and the need to ensure coordination with cleanup operators), ongoing concerns whether four hour training will allow wildlife workers access to oiled beached (as there are a variety of interpretations in different areas), expansion of coastal area which should be considered the “spill area” (as the species we are dealing with can transit fairly long distances before stranding), and plans for expansion of numbers of primary care facilities into FL.

1600-1700: Meet with Cheryl in Safety, confirming that “paraprofessionals” with four hour training can enter area where oil is present; celebrate; really made her day when asked to consider ATV use and night operations for turtle nest surveys; spoke w/ Delpine at IMMS regarding supply orders and needs; answered emails from partners; sent emails following up on outstanding items; made pact with Teri for both of us to be out of the ICC in the 1900’s.

1700-1800: Speak with Ken (Wildlife Branch, Mobile ICC) on status and end of day reporting; took Hotline call and worked with stranding coordinator to respond; answer & sent emails; answered questions from Situation Unit on unconfirmed reports of oiled mammals; grumble; call Wendy and Allen (FL turtle coordinator) to discuss plans for expansion of “suspect” zone into FL, possibilities of additional turtle facilities beyond Panama City, and what equipment/staffing needs this would require; confer w/ Ron of NOAA on results of wildlife overflights and where turtles and dolphins were spotted; confer w/ Teri on the really really really important things to do on the list; reassert our dedication to leaving in the 2000’s.

1800-1900: Check in w/ Liz in Mobile about wildlife ops in MS-AL; confer w/ Gary on Environmental Unit issues (this time the Swedish Fish are safe); answer emails; send emails; give up on sorting emails; give up on giving up on sorting emails because I don’t want to get too far behind; be thankful I am not Teri as I glance at her inbox; receive call from Hotline and pass on to regional coordinator; marvel with Teri about the amazing time warp that an oil spill develops – one where you look up from your work and two hours have passed.

1900-2000: Confer again with Liz over wildlife observations made by teams out of Mobile ICC; check in with Teri on the status of turtle/mammal NRDA efforts; have dinner w/ Teri (again, a veggie option – though it suspiciously looks similar to lunch); have milk to dilute the hypercaffeination; enjoy good cajun spice mix on the food; confer w/ Teri on what must be done before leaving for the day; make assurances that we will leave somewhere in the 2100’s; ignore Teri’s buzzing Blackberry; ignore 10 emails coming in over dinner.

2000-2130: Speak w/ Dan, NOAA health officer, on safety plan; receive Hotline call and give info to regional coordinator; speak with Wendy about turtle strandings; answer emails; send emails; call Michele at Audubon on freezer status; checked with Logistics on what assets needed ICS 213 RRs; grumble; email exchange with Sherry regarding FL facility readiness and needs; touched bases with Sylvia on any media issues; reviewed Wildlife Response plan for Mobile ICC; reviewed necropsy record forms for manatees; attempt to help Teri finish up what she needs to get done; was shocked to see 9:30 on clock face; grumble; forcibly removed (OK, not so much) Teri from the OMTU area (again, not so much – a table in a room); scanned ID card out; said goodnight.

2130-2145: Drive back to Schreiver; call family and check in (one daughter sick, other daughter coaching soccer team who won, wife successfully planted new vegetable plants without chickens destroying said garden).

2145-2345: Get ready for bed; charge phone; answer emails; double-check daily report and animal numbers from Teri and her wonderful people in DC; write far too long blog post about day; promise to be shorter and more related to spill the next day.

2345-2400 (anticipated): Read 7 words of book (been here 9 days, on page 7); hope blog post doesn’t have too many misspellings and improper use on present and past tense; fall asleep.

– Mike

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