The effects of COVID-19 reached each and every person across the United States. But as the expression goes, in the worst of times, we begin to see the best in people. That sentiment certainly holds true with the workforce at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and across the entire Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
In 2006, in response to the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, DHS established the Surge Capacity Force (SCF). The SCF, managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), calls upon volunteers from across DHS and other federal agencies to help with additional disaster assistance during times of greatest need. Volunteers go through the appropriate emergency response training and are deployed to offer hands-on help to those in need. Oftentimes, the SCF is called upon in anticipation of or in response to natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornados or wildfires.
On January 21, 2021, President Biden released the National Strategy for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, laying out a plan to vaccinate hundreds of millions of Americans. This Strategy directed FEMA to create 100 federally-supported vaccination sites over the first 30 days. A tall task, indeed. To reach these goals and provide expedited support to local communities, DHS and FEMA activated the SCF once again, calling for volunteers from across the government. FEMA has since established or expanded more than 440 community vaccination centers nationwide.
“Internally, we often refer to our DHS counterparts as our family. DHS… they’re the parent. FEMA… they’re one of our siblings. And family is always there to help each other during times of need. It may sound cheesy, but it’s true,” TSA said in a statement.
“We want to recognize and commend the 49 TSA employees who answered this call for help, and allowed us to support this SCF mission. After completing training in Dallas, they were sent to locations across the country to provide assistance. Whether it’s temperature checks at building entrances or checking off names on vaccination registration lists, these volunteers put the needs of others first. For that, we’ll forever be grateful and thankful.”