“It’s been an absolutely crazy year!” That’s how Dakota Duncan, Executive Director at BCFS Health and Human Services Emergency Management Division (EMD), describes the last six months.
The moment COVID-19 started making headlines, Duncan says Kevin Dinnin, President and CEO of the BCFS System, made forward-leaning proposals, positioning EMD to be ready for both external and internal responses brought by COVID-19. Because of this preparation, while the past 200 days have been long, Duncan stresses how EMD continues to stay ahead.
The first response came in March with the renovation of the Texas Center for Infectious Disease, which EMD was tasked to manage. Soon EMD had more than 200 state mission assignments spanning from medical surge and alternate care site operations to a rapid assessment quick reaction force and hurricane response. At their peak in July, EMD had more than 5,000 personnel deployed across Texas and Louisiana.
To better understand the magnitude of 2020’s assignments, normally EMD would have one mission assignment that would, occasionally, overlap with a second assignment. However, over the last six months, EMD has responded to more than 200 assignments, 148 of which are still active.
Duncan expects the response will continue until at least June of next year. Currently, the goal is sustainability – implementing rotations and ensuring EMD can continue the response as long as their service is needed.
What Duncan is most proud of is perhaps what also made this response the most difficult: being tasked to do what has never been done before. “We’re making up tools and we’re making up processes as we go, to support whatever the need is, and then trying to look forward down the line to see what’s coming. It’s been very impressive to see what we can do. The growth of EMD out of this is just incredible.”
At the end of the day, it’s the people that make it all possible.
“It’s just been really incredible to see the amount of dedication and the amount of ‘can do attitude’ that people have exhibited on this response,” says Duncan. Together, we are ONE TEAM ONE MISSION.