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Barnstable County is Working for You: Staff Spotlights

In our continued effort to spotlight employees and draw attention to examples of teamwork in action at Barnstable County, this week, we are highlighting Phil Burt, Director of the Cape Cod Center for Public Safety Training and Andrew Platt, Emergency Preparedness Specialist.

Like many other County employees during COVID-19, Phil and Andrew have served in pandemic emergency response roles while juggling their other everyday duties. From March 18 to July 24, they assisted Cape Cod Healthcare with the launch and operations of the COVID-19 testing site at Cape Cod Community College. They describe their experience below and what they are looking forward to next in their respective roles at the County.

First of all, what do you like best about your position and working for Barnstable County?

Andrew Platt: I enjoy being a problem solver and working with our communities to better prepare for potential storms and other emergencies. I get to work with many great people who put the interests of others above their own. I like working for a regional government in a state that otherwise has a large gap between state and local governments; it’s nice to help bridge that capability gap for such a special part of the state. 

Phil Burt: I believe in the mission of Barnstable County. I think the County is a valuable asset to the region – providing meaningful services and worthwhile programs to the towns, residents, and visitors of Cape Cod. We’re fortunate to be able to live on the Cape, and I like knowing that my time and energy is supporting the region.

What were your primary duties assisting at the test site?

Andrew Platt: I acted as the Planning Section, which is my usual role for incident response. I produced daily incident action plans for the site, including everything from our objectives, organizational structure, and medical and safety plans (in conjunction with our Safety Officer from West Barnstable Fire Department). I ran morning briefings for all the site staff.

As a group, the folks in the command trailer were focused on monitoring the operations to ensure safety protocols were being followed and respond to any safety issues (as well as solve any other logistical issues that came up). I assisted logistics (Phil) with procuring resources needed for the site and managing our onsite equipment (generators, radios, etc.). We also helped with traffic flow management during peak testing hours by lining cars up in rows to keep them off the Community College’s roads.

We (Phil and I) also assisted Cape Cod Healthcare with the setup of their surge facility in Brewster and the field hospital at Joint Base Cape Cod. 

Phil Burt: Ultimately, I think my/our role at the Cape Cod Community College COVID-19 test site boiled down to keeping people safe. Whether we were ordering supplies and equipment, writing plans, reworking traffic patterns, troubleshooting mechanical issues, providing weather reports, or simply facilitating discussions amongst staff – we were focused on keeping the operation as safe as possible. 

What is something you will never forget about your experience assisting with test site operations?

Andrew Platt: I won’t forget the great people that I had the pleasure of working with from Cape Cod Healthcare, West Barnstable Fire Department, and Cape Cod Community College. I also enjoyed trying to figure out how to get some of the more interesting transportation modes through the site safely, from RVs to m otorcycles.

Phil Burt: I will remember the friendships. 

What project are you looking forward to next?

Andrew Platt: I am focused on adapting our regional sheltering program to provide disaster mass care in a pandemic environment. It is a very different challenge for us as the paradigm for emergency management, mass care, and sheltering has shifted dramatically. We have a lot of smart, dedicated folks in the field and am confident we can continue to increase our preparedness. Still, emergency management is always a treadmill – the effort to better prepare for a severe storm (or another emergency) never ends. 

Phil Burt: We continue to develop training programs to support public safety agencies on Cape Cod. The newly acquired maritime fire training simulator will be pushed out to the towns in the coming months and should prove to be a very valuable training tool for our local fire departments. 

Thank you, Phil and Andrew, for your dedication to serving our region.