Kari Johnson, Command and Route Manager reporting for blog duty.
On the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, I have the honor of working inside our mobile Command Center, where questions are answered, weather is monitored, support services and tech equipment are housed, and our leadership team is based. I answer the four phones and monitor the Command radio channel on the walkie-talkie.
From inside the Command Center, I track the walkers’ movement and pace along the route, track where our assets are and how and when to move them, manage vendor operations and ensure that all route operations are moving as they should.
I spend a considerable amount of time troubleshooting issues that inevitably arise on live events. Sometimes it is broken equipment, lost walkers, vendors not showing up or issues with a site. Each event has its own personality and issues to deal with. I love anticipating the issues that will arise and figuring out how to make it all work. Some are easy to remedy, and some require that the team move mountains.
While the event is called the 3-Day®, my work week lasts from Monday to Monday. Monday I travel to the event city. I spend Tuesday in the Command Center printing and prepping for the event staff to arrive.
Wednesday the staff meets, goes over logistics and starts the load-in process. Thursday we finish load-in and host the All-Crew Kick-Off, then set up the Opening Ceremony site. Friday is when the real fun starts.
Friday – My alarm goes off at 3:00 a.m. I head to the Command Center with Meredith Cleasby, the Event Planning Manager, to set up shop. I power up the four monitors to watch the weather, review site and route maps and scanner counts. I start getting updates from the route team beginning around 4 a.m.
The biggest issue we are facing this morning on the route is towelettes. Yes, towelettes. The last event was in Philadelphia where we had a bit of rain throughout the weekend and the towlettes didn’t survive the rain and move to Atlanta. But when towelettes are the biggest issue we are dealing with, we are in really good shape.
The route operates well today and the rest of the campsite build progresses nicely. I continue to answer questions from the staff, crew and walkers on the Command phones. It is unusually quiet on the phones, which usually means that everything is going really well.
Route and Camp operations run smoothly and my job is pretty easy today. The staff is on point and the crew is well seasoned. I’m able to do some prep work for the November 3-Day events in Dallas/Fort Worth and San Diego during the slow periods in Command. The walker counts come in on the hour and half hour, and questions come up sporadically. I update the route board as needed and keep my eyes and ears open to make sure I’m not missing anything.
Since everything on the route is going so well, I bust out some items found in Command and make Libby a head piece – just for fun.
The last walker makes their way into camp and the route is officially closed. I spend some time with Jane, our overnight staff, and make sure she has everything she needs to take over the Command operations overnight.
Saturday – Meredith and Sarah are going to open the route today, which gives me a chance to sleep in a bit. I arrive at the campsite by 7:30 a.m. and meet with the Event Leadership Team. We each give an update on how things are going on the event, what we are having concerns about and what needs to be worked on.
After the meeting, I head back to the Command Center and meet up with Cyrena, who is coordinating our camp “glamping” elements for the weekend, and we head out onto the route for a few hours.
While out on the route, I spend some time checking in with the route-based staff, the lunch caterer, some crew and of course the walkers. I love being outside and seeing the event in action. I spend all year working on this event series and to see it all come together makes my little cup of joy overflow.
The afternoon is spent answering questions, prepping for Day 3, reviewing notes, making notes and enjoying the quiet time in the Command Center. Reports of walkers behind the Caboose, transformers blowing out causing a traffic backup, and special requests from the police department are sprinkled throughout the afternoon.
Sunday – Lobby call at 4:40 a.m. Once we get to the Command Center we start the final tear down to move it to the Closing Ceremony site. The team descends upon the Command Center and we quickly pack it up and get it moving.
We arrive at the Closing site slightly before the Command Center does. We wait for it to be parked and then try to power it up. Wait… it isn’t powering up. Uh-oh. It’s time for the jumper cables.
Like Friday and Saturday, the route is pretty uneventful. There is little chatter on the Command phones and radio. The stage team is doing a test of the equipment backup system and the reports coming into command are that it went beautifully. I get a few calls about where to stage the shuttle buses, moving injured walkers from the bus drop off site to the finish area and there is a lot of chatter about where to order lunch. Before I know it, the route is wrapping up and the team is heading in.
Once everyone is in the Participant Finish Area, I work on packing up my desk in the Command Center and prep to head over to the load-out lot after the Closing Ceremony ends. I hear the music end and I button up the last few things and head over to load-out.
The team at load-out is working hard and are moving at a great pace. It’s looking like we might be done with load-out by 7:30 p.m.! Before I know it, the trucks doors and sides are being closed and locked up. A quick time check says it is 7:12 p.m. and the Utility team is done. Woohoo! We are now only waiting on the team that did the last vehicle run to return. Hooray!
By 7:45 p.m. the last of the vehicle return team arrives back to load-out and picks up their bags and we are done for the night. We all head to the hotel and get ready to celebrate another successful event!