Saturday, August 6, 2011

BOST- Week 11

Our second to last week at Boston has been filled with a mixture of activities for Jeff and myself. We started our week with accompanying one of our fellow LE rangers to the Lowell Folk Festival to help with crowd control. The Lowell Folk Festival is one of the biggest festivals in the country and mostly takes place within Lowell National Park. There are many food and merchandise venders along with a large range of different music bands performing. Jeff and I were dispersed at opposite ends of the parking lot that contained one of the music stages and food venders. Our main task was to make sure no one with alcoholic beverages would leave the parking lot with the beverages in hand. We also helped answer any questions visitors may have had as well as hand out some event brochures. This year's festival was pretty mild compared to past years but there were reports of several fights breaking out at one of the other stages. It was an amazing experience to have gotten and was wonderful to meet some more LE rangers from another park. We are continuing to make great contacts as well as getting honest and sincere advice from those we're working with.

This past week we also spent time with maintenance. Our first day with maintenance consisted of being shown around by one of the managers. He described a little bit about what they are responsible for including custodial, building repair, lawns crew, and painting. A member of the staff took us into one of the buildings they clean that happened to be the maintenance facility for the USS Constitution. It was very interesting to see some of the pieces and equipment that go into maintaining the ship. We also saw a good portion of the safety aspects that are involved with maintenance; how constant observation of problem areas is absolutely necessary to ensure the safety of all employees and visitors.

We went with the custodial staff the next day, gaining a better respect for the work that goes into it. We went to the Visitor Center in the Navy Yard and started to clean the display section while the bathrooms were being cleaned by another staff member. Jeff was cleaning the metal rope holders and door handles while I cleaned the information display signs. The signs were all covered with many hand and finger prints which is not usually something I would even think of cleaning. However, the before and after image of the signs was very noticeable and helps make the Visitor Center look that much better. We spent the other part of the morning vacuuming and dusting another floor of offices is one of the other buildings in the yard. In the afternoon we then walked around the yard and into a few of the buildings to check and see if there were any pressing matters that would need attention from a member of the maintenance staff. It was good to see the park in another way because even though custodial work might get overlooked, it is just as important as any of the other divisions in the park.

At the end of the week we spent time helping the carpenter do some of his everyday tasks. The maintenance department in Boston has quite a few unfilled positions, so the staff members that they do have usually have to double up tasks. We helped fix one of the sinks in another office by replacing a few of the parts to the faucet. We also patched up a part of the floor in the basement of the Bunker Hill museum as well as the sidewalk along the museum with some quick drying cement. It was pretty rewarding to be able to physically see our contribution to helping the park remain a beautiful and clean place to visit.

Jeff and I were fortunate enough to be able to spend two days this week taking part in the Operational Leadership course the our Chief, Mark Dowdle, taught. The main purpose of Operational Leadership is to form the same level of understanding for employees from every division in the park. This level of understanding is really about everyone speaking the same language of safety as well as producing a culture of safety. Some of the main points that were covered in the class were the functions of leaders, the uses of feedback to fellow coworkers, how stress affects everyone, the importance of being situationally aware, and the SPE and GAR models of risk management. The greatest thing I took from the class was the importance of situation awareness. As LE rangers we must always be vigilant of our surroundings and can never become complacent in our everyday, routine activities. The moment this happens is when something dangerous could occur or when we start making unsafe actions.

As for the SPE and GAR models, they are quick risk assessment equations for specific and general tasks. The SPE model calculates Severity x Probability x Exposure. This model is to be used for very specific actions and the end number will tell you if the task should be re-evaluated for safety or not. The GAR model is for more general tasks or events in which the outcome comes out in a Green, Amber, or Red rating; green being much safer and red meaning there needs to be some re-evaluation before the task can be completed. For example, my group did a GAR model to help determine the possibility for the lower deck of the USS Cassin Young being opened up for tours. Once you complete the initial GAR, you must review which areas need attention and make adjustments to help improve the safety of them. Once these adjustments are made, you can then complete another model to hopefully improve the outcome and make a much better and safer event. Presenting our GAR and reviewing our contingency factors to help lower our end result to make for a safer plan to opening the lower deck of the Cassin Young.

Jeff and I both cannot believe we are approaching our last week here in Boston. We have enjoyed every aspect of this summer experience and are sad to see it go so soon. We hope everyone has a fantastic final week!

ProRangers Jeff Parente and Erin Langeheine

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