NORFOLK, Va. -- A multidisciplinary team from the Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, joined the Federal Emergency Management Agency in an assessment of a local site for conversion into a federally supported community vaccination center here last week.
FEMA officially opened that location today as a Type 2 center, capable of administering approximately 3,000 vaccinations a day and directly supporting President Joe Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccinations within the first 100 days of his administration.
The site assessment team, comprised of electrical, mechanical and fire protection engineers, as well as the district’s emergency management office, evaluated the location’s electrical infrastructure and determined back-up power options.
According to Tom Booth, Norfolk District Engineering & Construction Division deputy chief, the team’s findings indicated that the structure, which previously hosted a popular department store, was deemed suitable for its intended purpose. The district’s engineers also provided multiple options for backup power.
But before the assessment team could assemble, the Norfolk District Emergency Management Office team was first to go into action.
The day prior, district EM specialists received the FEMA mission assignment, followed not long after by the mission assignment task order. With timeliness serving as a key motivator, the EM team rallied the district’s engineering specialists with Booth serving as the team lead.
In less than three hours of receiving the task order, the team was assembled. And in less than 24 hours they were on location. By the following day, the assessment report was in the hands of FEMA officials.
“The Norfolk District Emergency Management Office works diligently throughout the year to maintain close contact with federal and state, local, tribal and territorial partners to ensure we’re ready and relationships are established before a disaster or national emergency, such as COVID-19, occurs,” said Norfolk District Emergency Management Specialist Alex J. Gurchinoff Schlebach.
Since the pandemic began, the EM office receives daily updates through USACE headquarters, FEMA Region 3, the Commonwealth and local situation reports and coordination calls.
These measures ensure the Norfolk District remains informed as to the current situation and future projections to plan for, exercise and respond to emergencies such as the FEMA assignment
According to the FEMA website, vaccination centers are established by state, local, tribal or territorial partners and may receive any combination of federal equipment, funding and personnel. These locations may vary in size and number of vaccinations they can administer in a day.
While the federal government is working to increase the COVID-19 vaccine supply across the nation, FEMA is simultaneously building the infrastructure to host the administration of vaccinations at locations that will remain adaptable when the vaccine supply becomes more available.
As part of the National Response Framework, USACE is the primary agency for Emergency Support Function #3 – Public Works and Engineering. When tasked by FEMA, the Norfolk District Emergency Management Office coordinates the response to the FEMA mission assignment.
For this operation, assessment team provided FEMA with their recommendations for power capabilities at the facility. Giving insight for moving forward with the CVC site as planned.
Last year, the district was charged with assessing potential alternate-care facilities. And although related by pandemic response, like each FEMA mission assignment, the ACF mission was completely different than the team’s recent assignment.
“ACF assessments were much more in depth, as they were intended to be pseudo medical facilities,” said Booth. “Whereas CVC assessments are more focused on electrical and mechanical (capabilities) for vaccines that require refrigeration, and to ensure the facility can continue to function in the event of a loss of power.”
For more information on community vaccination centers head to, https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/vaccine-support/vaccine-center#resources
To find out how to get vaccinated go to the following link: https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/vaccine-support