Blaine Willis (2001)
Fire Engineer with City of San Jose Fire Department- 2007 to Present
My experience at work during the current Covid Pandemic has been one of highs and lows. As with any emergency work. There is the initial aggressive reaction to the situation to mitigate it as best as possible, and then the absorption of the situation into normal routine. San Jose Fire, which serves the City of San Jose and portions of Santa Clara County was stricken early by the virus. In late February early March, 8 members contracted the virus, which brought the previously international pandemic to our front door (It has since been discovered that the first known death in the United States occurred in San Jose, in early February, which friends of mine responded to at a neighboring station). The Departments actions during this initial stage, has been passed down to numerous other Fire Departments throughout the state, to help mitigate Emergency Responders exposure to the virus while helping people in their time of need, whether due to Covid related illness or other ailments. I work with numerous UCD Alum, including Engineer, Derrick Bradley (UCD Football), Captain, Jason Blinn (UCD Fire Department), Firefighter-Medic, Kwamin Taylor (UCD Football), Engineer, Sage Pelot, Firefighter, Ben Dearborn, Firefighter-Medic, Robbie Svendsen (UCD Fire Department), Firefighter-Medic, David Bartels (UCD Band). In talking with the others, we feel that this is what we signed up for…respond to an emergent situation, help mitigate the hazards, illness, danger, and leave the situation better than we found it!
What did Rowing instill on me? How do you react to a situation throughout the event, brings about an end result. In rowing, we have a 2000 meter course, we all come out of the blocks with power and energy. Are we able to sustain this for 2000 meters? Probably not! But we can set ourselves up to be in a good position for the next 1500 meters and make alterations as the need arises during the race. Just sometimes we don’t know where the finish line is in the world of Emergency services!
Sean Ballard (1996)
Volunteer Firefighter, Menlo Park Fire Department
Sean serves as the volunteer chairman of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District’s Community Crisis Management program and leads the volunteer response there to the pandemic. He credits lessons learned from balancing a boat with seven other rowers and then moving forward in sync with helping efficiently lead his organization in working together.