Hello, and welcome back to Gracie Meets…! Have you ever wondered who makes the plans for when disasters strike? Well, I have the answer for you! Today, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Jamey Nolan, who works as a Senior Crisis Management Specialist. I definitely learned a lot from this interview and so will you, so go ahead and take a listen!
Cover Art: Kyleigh Kinsey. Instagram: @ato._.noodle
0:00 – Intro Music
Gracie Solomon 00:09
Hello, and welcome back to Gracie Meets…. Have you ever been in a hurricane or another natural disaster? Have you ever wondered who makes the plans for when a natural disaster strikes? Well, I’m excited to interview Mr. Jamey Nolan, a senior crisis management specialist. So Mr. Jamey, tell me about yourself.
Jamey Nolan 00:28
Well, hi there. Yes, my name is Jamey Nolan. I grew up in a small town in Mississippi. I’m 40 years old now and married have three kids and have a pretty interesting job. And I have pretty wild way that I got from high school to this job now. My job as a senior crisis management specialist, I work for an oil company located in Houston. But I don’t just stay in the office in Houston. I have to travel all over the world to give training at different at locations, we have to attend, you know, major conferences, and I’ve got to go to some pretty interesting places like Australia, Egypt, Scotland, you know, pretty, pretty neat office to have some times.
Gracie Solomon 01:16
So how would you explain your job to a teenager like myself?
Jamey Nolan 01:19
So I actually do have a teenager. And when we go through things like what we’re going through now with COVID, I do get a lot of questions from him. And so I explain it like this that, you know, there are people out there that work at the at the local government level, at the state government level, at the federal government and inside different, what we would call risk based companies, right companies that the job that they perform, there’s a certain level of risk and it’s not just oil companies or dangerous things where the work itself is dangerous, but hospitals, you know, hospitals deal with patients that may come in with infectious diseases, they have emergency managers. A lot of large and mid-sized organizations employ emergency managers to help keep their people safe. And that’s the way I described him as I, you know, I used to work for the federal government and kind of in a similar position, and now I work for an oil company to help their employees safe.
Gracie Solomon 02:17
I see. So do you get assigned certain emergencies to make plans for?
Jamey Nolan 02:22
Yes, we do what’s called contingency planning. And so we look at our organization and all the locations that we’re at all over the world. And we try to identify risks, things that we may run into the would be problems, and some of those are pretty obvious for an oil company, right? I mean, the number one would be an oil spill. And in fact, my background in the US Coast Guard, and my job was people who responded to oil spills. But it’s more than just oil spills. I’m here in Houston. We’re right on the Gulf of Mexico. So we have to do a lot planning for hurricanes. In fact, you know, our company was shut down for nine days during Hurricane Harvey. And our plan had to account for that and how we prepare our people and prepare our locations and take care of our people. That was one of the main things we wanted to do was to find out, you know, how our employees were impacted by the storm and, and how could we help them as a company if they needed specific medical care or daycare for the children. If the daycare got flooded you know, where their kids were at or not going to open for a while, how can we help get their kids daycare, or what about transportation. So it’s a lot more than just, you know, the obvious things that you plan for and along with that is pandemic planning. And a lot of people don’t know that, you know, at the federal government level and at the state and the private industry level, we’ve been planning for pandemic for 20 plus years.
Gracie Solomon 03:56
I see. So what kind of schooling or training Did you have to achieve to go into this line of work?
Jamey Nolan 04:04
So that’s where the funny part happens, Gracie is that I kind of fell into this world of work. I studied music in college. I used to sing opera and theater and choir music and you know, went all through college. And in my junior year of college, it was when 9/11 occurred, September 11 2001. And, you know, in the year two following that, there was a real push to, you know, serve the country. I always wanted to serve my country. When looking through what services you know, what service I wanted to join, I broke it down to the Air Force and the Coast Guard. And because of the Homeland Security and anti-terrorism work that was popping up in there, in the Coast Guard, I chose the Coast Guard. Then while I was there, I moved to New Orleans, and we immediately went through Hurricane Katrina and falling that I finished up another degree that was very similar to an emergency management degree. And the Coast Guard hired me to be the hurricane officer for Southeast Louisiana, and rewrite the hurricane plan for the Coast Guard. So, it was a combination of, you know, school yes, you know, finishing up that second degree in emergency management, but it was a combination of being in the right place at the right time, and being exposed to an enormous amount of experience. Right? So we there in just a few years, we had Hurricane Katrina we training we dealt with Hurricane Rita, Hurricane Gustav oil spills on the Mississippi River, oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. Deepwater Horizon, the BP oil spill in 2010. So what you know, I just happen to be in a location where there was a tremendous chance to get an experience in ways that a lot of other people didn’t. But there’s various ways you can get into this world of work. You know, if you work for your, you know, county police department or County Office of Emergency Management or at the state level. But that’s just kind of how I fell into it.
Gracie Solomon 06:01
Interesting. So what do you think makes your job unique?
Jamey Nolan 06:08
There’s a lot of things that make my job incredibly unique. One, one thing is that I get to kind of stand back, and I’m given the time to really research and the time to think, you know, I’ve had my, my vice president of my department, you know, walk through the kitchen one day and, and you know, in our office and I was staring out the window, just looking over Houston. And he, you know, I’m supposed to be at work, and he poked his head and said, what do you what are you doing? And I said, I’m thinking, and he went, oh okay, and just walked away like, okay, Jamey’s in his headspace because I really do have the time to step back and study all the aspects of how we can respond better, how we can train better, different ways we can adjust our teams and adjust our philosophies to be more effective. That’s pretty unique.
Gracie Solomon 07:02
That’s cool. So how does this COVID-19 pandemic affect your line of work?
Jamey Nolan 07:09
Massively, massively. Yeah. So we started following and tracking the COVID-19 Corona virus outbreak in Hubei province in Wuhan, China, in the middle, eh first second week of January, I started receiving weekly updates from the Center for Disease Control, and some international emergency medical partners that we have. So we started tracking this and preparing pretty early a lot earlier than a lot of people realize. I mean, not really even on the news at that point here in the US, but following that I wrote and finalized a pandemic plan for our company and that plan really looked at well, how do we make decisions when do you shut everything down and so that plan I designed the key decisions we need to make, like shutting the office down or limiting air travel or reducing the amount of people in the office. There’s lots of people steps you can take. But in order to make those key decisions, we have to have triggers. So when do I make that call, I make a call when this occurs, I make that call when we have an infected person in our office or I make that call when the Houston area is seeing an outbreak. Right? So I wrote that plan. And then we put it into place very, very quickly. And within about a week and a half, we shut our office down and sent our workers home. About two weeks before the state and the counties started locking everything down. We moved very, very quickly. And a lot of a lot of oil companies and large industry companies actually moved a lot faster than the state and local governments have the ability to because we have so much risk and having 1000 people in our office you know? So we shut it down. And since then I’ve been managing sometimes daily, sometimes every other day management support team or kind of a COVID-19 task force that we have calls and we make decisions on how to best take care of our employees and get them the things they need to do their job controlling, you know, managing accountability from home, you know, is what that team is really doing. And I’m there just to kind of help facilitate the process and make the process work. And make sure the right people talking to each other. And then lately over the last two weeks, I’ve been designing and finalizing we actually sent it in today, our reentry to work plan, and that’s, you know, what should going back to work look like. You know with a pandemic, there’s not just a day that’s over. There’s a gradualness to it, we need to respond effectively to that gradualness. Go too fast, we can get people hurt. If we get too slow. Well, we probably can’t go too slow right now. And I’m just being very honest. There, you know, understanding what the risk is of us going too slow. It’s not very high. The most important thing we can do is protect our people. So we finalized that plan and we have it built out that it’ll take weeks if not months for us to find a way to get everyone back in the office wants this thing calms down, but that’s how it has affected my job.
Gracie Solomon 10:35
I know COVID-19 is difficult, but I never knew how stressful it would be for you. I’d like to thank you so much, Mr. Jamey, for taking time out of your already busy schedule to let me interview you.
Jamey Nolan 10:47
I’m happy to do it.
Gracie Solomon 10:48
I think it’s crazy how we take advantage of all the plans that are set in place for us to follow during disastrous times. But we forget all about the people who are behind these decisions. It takes a large group of unique outside the box thinkers for this job, but then again, show me a normal teenager. Thanks for listening.
Gracie Solomon 11:18
Thanks for tuning in. If you like Gracie Meets…, subscribe and follow Gracie Meets… on Instagram at Gracie.Meets and tune in next Saturday for extra special interview the well-known sports caster