Pandemic Panic or Presence of Mind?
Last year Louie Bakalars stepped up to lead our response to the COVID crisis for AOWL. He immersed himself in all the best practice protocols and worked alongside experts in the field to develop our Preparedness and Mitigation Plan. When he left to go to Culinary School in June, I decided to step into his role. How hard could it be? The Pandemic was in its waning days. And then it wasn’t! I didn’t panic. Instead I reached out to Louie’s preparedness mentor, Emily Ward.
Emily is an AOWL parent. She reviewed our 120 page Comprehensive Safety and Emergency Plan that we developed when we first moved into our Minnetonka Campus, so she was the first person we reached out to when we needed advice on our pandemic preparedness plan last year. Why Emily? Let me share some of her background.
Emily is currently active duty military with the U.S. Coast Guard. She was activated at the beginning of the pandemic and has worked on pandemic response policy and vaccine planning and distribution. Her biggest role has been developing and implementing our nationwide contact tracing program, including a data management software system. She’s a Commander and had technically retired in February 2020, but they retained her on “retired recall” orders through September 2021.
Her civilian job is the Strategic National Stockpile Coordinator at the MN Dept of Health. She’s been there since 2015 working on statewide public health emergency preparedness and response. Largely, planning for pandemic or biological terrorism response. She will return to this job October 1st.
Prior to 2015 she was on active duty with the Coast Guard working on pandemic policy and the Ebola response (2013-2015).
She finished a Masters in Security Technology with a public health minor in 2013, which has strengthened her knowledge for each of these roles.
Academy of Whole Learning has the latest information on best practices for COVID-19 mitigation strategies sooner than any other school in the state, maybe even the nation. We are fortunate, beyond words, to have Emily partnering with us and sharing her expertise.
Thank you Emily!!