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Day in the Life

masking tape labeled with Day in the Life

Patricia L. Doggett
Monday, July 14, 2014

The phrase 24/7 is tossed around frequently when discussing preparedness. Patricia Doggett, an Emergency Management Specialist at CDC, walks the walk of 24/7, handling travel arrangements for public health staff who need to get where they are going fast. She gives us a glimpse of her late nights and early mornings, getting CDC staff to public health emergencies in places as far apart as California and Liberia.

Patricia Doggett

What time did you wake up? What woke you up?

5 a.m. I have an alarm, but mind you, I didn’t go to sleep the night before until 1:30 a.m., because I was on call and my boss called me. I am on call every 7–10 days. Our team always has someone available, so when a public health emergency happens, our team is able to immediately deploy CDC staff to get them to where they need to be. My phone rang at home at 11:30 p.m. Sunday night. My supervisor called to let me know that we had another traveler that needed to leave first thing Monday. He was going to California to support the response to unaccompanied children from Central America crossing the border. CDC is advising on medical screening and surveillance for that response. I handled booking the flight, finding a hotel, securing a rental car, and anything he needed.

How did you spend your day?

I spent my day sitting in my office, working on travel. Altogether, I was working on traveler arrangements, all in different stages, for eight different people. I had a CDC leader traveling to Washington, D.C., and then I had 2 staff deploying to work on Ebola in Sierra Leone and 5 staff supporting the public health response to the unaccompanied children situation in California. My team lead sent a request to start the process on two more travelers who were going to Sierra Leone for Ebola. So while I am working with one traveler, I am still working other disasters as well. We can’t just stop for one person; our work still has to continue for other public health responses. I was also in touch with staff traveling out to California. I need to know that everyone makes it to their destination — that they have everything they are supposed to have. I don’t want travelers to be stressing about where they are going to stay, where they are going to eat, or whether they have money, so I try to stay with that person until they actually land. They should be focusing on the work they have ahead of them, not travel. We tell all travelers to call the Emergency Operations Center when they get to their destination so we know they have arrived.

What personality trait did you find most useful in your work today?

I can be charming when I want to be! We had a lot going on today. My boss said, “Make it happen.” The CDC staff traveling are all working on important things. With one hotel situation in D.C., I had to be persuasive, and I know how to be assertive when I need to be. It worked out in the end.

Who did you see or call?

Omega, hotel, airline, and staff traveling.

What did you snack on today?

I didn’t have time to eat until noon and that was a boiled egg and a piece of bacon. I was so busy.

Did you unexpectedly meet anyone today?

I met a traveler coming down from DC. He is a CDC person currently on detail to the Department of Health and Human Services. I have worked with him from time to time. He had to be walked from the CDC Visitors’ Center to our team room. He needed to get his equipment and get travel clearance to work internationally on Ebola.

What was the best part of the day?

Waking up. First thing I do is check my BlackBerry.

What was the worst part of the day?

I don’t have a bad day!

How will you close out your day today?

I will watch ABC. That is my wind-down period. Jimmy Kimmel is so funny. I fall asleep with that.

How did the work you did today compare to the other deployments you have done in the past such as Hurricane Katrina?

Every deployment is an accomplishment. Katrina was my first large-scale event. Katrina was a big one. I was on vacation, visiting my son in Kentucky and had been there a day. I got a call about Katrina, and I said to my son, “I have to go.” I have been working in the Division of Emergency Operations ever since then. Katrina was so sad. We didn’t get any sleep. We worked 24/7, but you didn’t even notice the hours. We had to get all these people out of Atlanta and to the area the hurricane hit. We handled transportation, and there were no hotels. We had to figure out the best place for CDC staff to stay and a way for them to get to the next destination. There was a lot going on to get them to New Orleans. We had to worry about their safety. My work today was a piece of cake. I am very fulfilled. I am a multitasker.

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