Wow..  How time flies by..  My name is Frank Sanborn, I am the External Entrepreneur (InnovationFellow) working on Community Resiliency and Smart Medical Devices.  My Fellowship has been bit like drinking from several fire hoses at once as I have been learning the culture and workings of both ASPR (Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response) and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).  I was the first Fellow to come on board here at HHS, starting Oct. 9th. And it has been a fast ride from the very beginning…

I spent the first few weeks learning about ASPR by meeting with different departments and groups within the organization. I found ASPR leadership incredibility capable and is an organization of action, responsibility and of accountability.  Every person I have met and worked with are incredibility passionate about their role to accomplish the mission of ASPR which is to make the medical community prepared for any type of disaster.

After a few weeks I joined up with my FEMA team, which includes the FEMA Think Tank.  My first meet up I got spend some time with Deputy Administrator Rich Serino and then with the Administrator Craig Fugate.  I was excited to learn the vision for the future of FEMA and how my core values and experiences matched incredibly well.  FEMA is undergoing a transformation to be more open and to make sure the whole community is being served and supported.  The first task was reading, reading, and more reading….

Just before heading back to Seattle, Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast.  I spent a bunch of time in Health and Human Services SOC (Secretaries Operation Center) and the NRCC (National Recovery Coordination Center) learning about the storm and watching the Federal Government get ready to help the impacted states.  It was amazing to see both HHS – ASPR and FEMA get mobilized.  One of my tasks was to help figure out how to get supplement bandwidth to DRC’s (Disaster Recovery Centers) so they could deploy disability IPad’s to each location so people with hearing impairments and other disabilities could receive translation and other services.  We partnered with National NGO’s and Satellite providers to bring in supplemental bandwidth.

Through the course of the dialog we quickly realized that not only did the DRC’s need bandwidth but so would the general public, especially at Community Shelters and other locations.  As we worked all worked hard to put the pieces in place to provide the infrastructure to serve these locations.

On Thursday with some trepidation I returned home to spend time my family.  It had been a long 3 weeks and we were all missing each other.  After returning home, my work on Sandy did not stop…  On Saturday, I joined a local hack-a-thon (Geeks without Bounds) working in Seattle working on supporting Sandy recovery.  On Sunday I got a call from the lead of the Think Tank asking me to join the FEMA Innovation Team Deploying to NY.  I talked with Dr. Nicki Lurie, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and we arranged for me to fly out that evening to meetup with my Fellow Innovators in Brooklyn at 8 AM.

Under the direction of Rich Serino, FEMA deployed a on the group of people from Federal, NGO, Industry Trade Associations, and Academia be on the ground bridging the gap between the formal government organization and informal organization and other groups supporting and helping people recovery.  Our Mission?  To see where the system broke down and to problem solve issues that were effecting survivors ability to recover after Sandy and into the future.

Here is a link to an article written by a documentarian I met in Red Hook while setting up community computers at IKEA. Mashable also picked up the story.

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