It is September 6, 2005 and Hurricane Katrina has devastated the gulf coast. The disaster is more than relief efforts can adequately address and the scene is chaotic. I have been asked to assemble a team of 8 to fly tomorrow to Mississippi for 3 weeks to rescue the abandoned animals.
Our group the Katrina Animal Rescue Team (KART) will be working in collaboration with the National Animal Rescue Agency to rescue and transport injured and displaced animals in the area, to animal shelters across the Nation. Team members were chosen based on their familiarity with extreme animal rescue cases, emotional stability, self-management, and critical thinking skills.
Once our group arrives in MS, we will setup our base camp. This is where we will eat, sleep, and hold meetings. This is also where our rescued animals will be housed, until final transport from the National Animal Rescue Agency arrives. These arrivals are set to occur periodically, every 3 days in order to have continued space for additional rescued animals.
During the 4 hour flight from Boston to MS, I chose to brief my team. We outlined the goals of the mission to rescue displaced animals that can be transported safely. While continuing to keep team members safe at all times. Members were assigned smaller teams and specific responsibilities for the following 3 weeks. In addition each member was provided with a walkie-talkie cell phone with our group doctor’s number saved in speed dial, in case of emergency.
The team I have assembled to address this issue includes six highly trained emergency veterinarians, a Doctor, and myself. The team will be prepared during the flight to Mississippi and divided into four smaller teams of 2.
Team 1: Search and Rescue
This team will consist of two vets. They are responsible for finding and identifying animals that can safely be transported to our base camp. This team is also responsible to preparing the animals for transport.
This team will consist of two veterinarians, responsible for bringing abandoned animals to base camp for further care. This team will be in constant contact with team 1, for pickup information. Team 2 is also responsible for transporting any injured team member to base camp or a doctor.
Team 3: Maintenance & Care
This team will consist of 2 veterinarians, stationed at our base camp. This pair will care for rescued animals temporary, until National Animal Rescue’s periodic pickups.
Team 4: Doctor & Myself
As stated before the doctor will be available to group member in need of medical attention. He will also be responsible for contacting National Animal Rescue to coordinate periodic pickups of our rescued animals.
In the case here a team member was injured in the field and the Doctor was needed. I would assist the team who lost a member and a member of Team 3 would be responsible for contacting National Animal Rescue.
As group leader I would adopt the role of coach mentor, team builder, technical problem solver, and strategic planner. In order to convey these roles effectively to my team I use the consultive leadership style dominantly during the mission. The autocratic style will be saved for moments requiring fast decisions i.e. someone is injured, flooding at base camp, etc.
During the course of the 3 weeks KART will check in periodically after each National pickup. In these sessions each team will share the issues and conflicts that have arisen during the past 3 days. As a group we will determine possible solutions that can be used over the next period. All of this info will be documented in meeting notes. We will also evaluate whether the suggestion from our last check in were effective. This system will provide group members with continuous support systems and feedback.
These sessions will also be used to maintain and strengthen group morale. By incorporating ice breakers and team building activities trust and relationships are formed. This will help us sustain a high performance level over the next 3 weeks
The success of our mission will be assessed on a couple of levels. The first assessment would be based on our performance. Statistical information stating how many animals were saved per period, and the amount of change per period, etc. This information would show whether or not the group adapted to the situation, after arrival. Also these results would show whether suggestions and solutions shared during group meetings affected the effectiveness of our rescue.
The second assessment would show how well the group worked as a team. Members will reflect on how helpful they found group suggestions and their work environment. In addition a small scale 360-degree feedback would be administered, to assess the effectiveness of my leadership throughout the mission. Inputs from group members and our contacts with the National Animal Rescue Agency will be used for the assessment.