Let’s focus on COVID-19, community and working in government. As an internally-facing local government department head, I rarely have direct interaction with the community we serve as a government representative. IT responsibilities lie within the departments we support, who in turn provide services and subsequently interact with community members.
Due to my community receiving 5,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, it was all hands on deck this past week. My department helped wrangle up and deploy loaner technology for the volunteers and the various actions that needed to take place. Laptops, mobile devices, Wi-Fi, phones and specific software were needed to organize and track the immunization effort.
It felt like we went from zero to 100 in support of the effort. In my opinion, it was an incredible display of what we do in government and how we help our communities. Much communication, planning and effort went into the process to develop the plan so our community could even receive the doses.
I volunteered for the second day of the planned three-day immunization extravaganza. So much was going on behind the scenes. The city, county and our local hospital put on an unbelievable show of unity to make the event an overwhelming success. It was amazingly impressive.
Without question, there were heroes supporting not only our immunization event but every immunization event happening around the world. We planned to give out 1,000 doses on day one, and 2,000 doses on days two and three. We needed all the volunteers and health care professionals we could find to distribute the doses.
Our firefighters are also paramedics, and many of them were giving out shots. Even our fire chief was administering vaccinations. Two thousand shots a day is a lot when you consider everything that must be done in and around the immunization.
There was a small army of people working behind the scenes to make the event as efficient as possible. Local businesses donated snacks and drinks. The community came together to make it a success. I was already proud to call Seguin, Texas my home, but witnessing these folks come together for the betterment of the community made me feel it even more.
Per my job at the event, I had a bird’s eye view of the immunization area. I watched people check-in and receive their shots for hours on end. There were so many stations with health care professionals set up to get citizens in and out as quickly as possible. It was about a half-hour process for most folks.
I recall specifically table No. 7 with a young hospital worker giving out doses. I’m not embellishing when I state she was jumping up and down waving her table identifier frantically (and humorously) each and every time she was ready to administer the next shot. She did this all day. Her energy was infectious.
I interacted with several co-workers and county and hospital cohorts throughout the day. It was a long, tough day, but everyone was exceedingly friendly and professional. The magnitude of the event seemed to be understood, although no one was really saying it.
I talked to a lot of good folks and overheard many conversations throughout the day. One person said it was only the fifth time she had been out of her house since this started. She was so excited to be receiving the vaccination and was almost in tears.
Another couple retired about the same time the country went into lockdown. The gentleman was explaining to me they decided to retire when they did so he and his wife could travel cross-country. They had several trips planned and could not wait for the opportunity to get out and see the world. I hope they’ll be able to fulfill their dreams soon.
People came to our event from hundreds of miles away. Overwhelmingly the energy was positive. People were happy and excited. We had country music playing in the background inside the venue. You can’t go wrong with some George Strait playing in Texas.
Talk about leadership – the city manager, county commissioner and hospital administrators were there from start to finish from the moment the event opened. The entire time I was there, I watched them work various stations and interact with citizens. That’s leading by example. No wonder this community is so amazing. It starts at the top.
Privilege Of Serving
I didn’t need to be reminded that what we do in government is a privilege. Life experience has taught me that it’s an honor to serve for the betterment of our communities.
Regardless of what level of government you work in, know what you do matters. It mattered in Seguin, Texas this past week. The 5,000 immunizations came through federal and state government processes. There was a whole team of folks that got the doses to us, and every other community out there. For that I say thank you – you folks are amazing.
In 2016, I left the private industry for this reason. I took a salary cut most would consider absurd. I don’t miss it, and I don’t need it. What I do need is for my life and work to mean something at the end of the day. Chances are if you’re reading this you have that same opportunity to impart positive, impactful change for the greater good. I hope it resonates. It’s a privilege to do what we do.
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Shane “El Jefe” McDaniel is the first Director of Information Technology for the city of Seguin, Texas, with more than 24 years of experience across multiple IT disciplines. He began his technology career in 1996 through an enlistment in the Air Force supporting military intelligence, subsequently transitioning to NSA, NRO, private industry and municipal government technology operations. Shane is the proprietor and champion of Country IT, running the countryexec.com website promoting personal and professional development for future leaders. You can find him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.