- The new Norms of Quarantine and Social Distancing.
- To mask or not to mask, that is the question.
- Black lives do matter.
- The COVID-19 training and work environment.
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Mindset Shifts and Opportunities
After a two-month extension to my six-month deployment, I have returned to a country that is dramatically different than the one I left in October 2019. Originally scheduled to return in March of 2020 and the world encountered the COVID-19 Pandemic. All at once the world stopped and began extreme social distancing to reduce the impact on the countries healthcare systems. While that panic has subsided, as we begin to reopen it is clear that the world will never be the same.
I lived in close proximity to our partner force while deployed. The idea of social distancing was a difficult to implement when you share a compound. Within that environment if someone were to get sick due to proximity it would quickly affect everyone. With the limited medical support in those locations the desire to get home was extremely high. Fortunately; after 2 months we were relieved, allowing my team and I to come home. My expectations of returning home was based on previous returns from 4 prior deployments. This time has been dramatically different. I have returned to Oz. It is a perfect time to shift my mindset and find the opportunities in this new environment.
Quarantine and Social Distancing
I recently finished my fourteen day quarantine. By Quarantine I mean I have isolated myself from my Fiancé in a hotel. Meanwhile, I have been taking daily walks with a facemask and practicing social distancing. Exploring the new norms my city and our country, there is a weird energy while walking down the street. At the moment, there are exponentially less people on the streets, which has made walking much more pleasant. It may still be a fear impulse, but everyone is actively avoiding close proximity. Walks along the harbor have been nice in this none crowded environment.
When I first got back only a few places were allowed to be open with limited contact. I learned the new process to pick up my Starbucks coffees and maintained my caffeine fix. The alone time in the hotel room gave me the opportunity to continue taking some Coursera Courses. If I am going to be stuck, learning some new skills is never a bad option. Really it was a way to try to not think about work while improving a little bit everyday.
Oddly enough, this it is similar to living in an ongoing Chemical or Biological Drill we do for work. Having to be conscious of everything I have touched and or any possible way I could have contaminated myself. If contamination occurs, hand sanitizer to decontaminate or shed layers!
Along with the concept of social distancing, there seems to be a new argument in the country over the use of face masks. The idea that wearing a face mask has become an issue is completely absurd to me. In my wildest dreams I would have never thought that you could make masks into a political topic. Unfortunately people have made the comparison of wearing a mask akin to silencing their right to free speech. This is not an attempt to silence your freedom of speech but a public health issue.
I look at masks as a mitigating measure. When dealing with air borne pathogens, you are looking to reduce your risk of inhaling critical threshold for the virus. We do this first by social distancing, then as space reduces the need for a mask increases. In a low risk area then cloth masks will reduce both your inhalation and exhalation of contaminates. If you are going into a higher risk area (i.e. people likely infected,) then an actual OSHA approved filter mask, like a N-95, should be used. In case you haven’t heard, according to the latest CDC Guidance, face coverings are recommended when social distancing cannot be observed.
It has been really interesting to see how companies use trends to create and provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like masks and hand sanitizer. It makes you wonder about all the possibilities that are still yet to come. The opportunity to incorporate fashion and PPE seems to good to pass up. Having spent time in Japan and Okinawa, where masks are common place we may need massive mindset shifts.
The video of George Floyd dying while being taken into custody by police officers in Minneapolis is heartbreaking. This event has been a breaking point for the country. Having seen the video from the Washington Post site I can say that at multiple points small decision changes could have changed this outcome. What I did not expect is the level that people were going to take protests around the world. To see the looting and destruction of many family businesses in several cities is only going to cause more heart ache and issues.
I hope for change. My hope is that we can take a step forward from this and learn. As a nation we need a mindset shift to improve. This is not acceptable behavior. While I know we have work to do, I hope am hopeful for a better answer and the opportunity to improve.
Preparing to Deploy Again
Having just returned from a deployment I have to now prepare my next team for the next deployment in little over a year. Trying to figure out how we can train and work in this environment is going to be challenging. The constant risk mitigation of having to know when we need to be in masks and when not to be will add another variable to the formula. I am also supposed to be train and prepare my team while also adhering to social distancing.
The saving grace is that with the new restrictions there is more wiggle room to modify the schedule as needed. Hopefully that will include time to take a vacation. While I don’t want to break from the quality of training, I do want to reduce the wasted time on unnecessary requirements. All the while making it difficult to get the mission essential training completed because all the additional requirements.
It is a challenging time. As I enjoy challenges I am looking forward to solving these puzzles and finding the grey between black and white.
P.S. If you have gotten out of the military or are planning to get out, please head over and answer a few questions on this [Page]. On the page there are two options. The option on the left is for those who have not gotten out yet. the option on the right is for those who have already gotten out. I am trying to capture the thoughts prior to and after getting out to help find some clarity. I am curious to see if the results meet your expectations. If not, what are your recommendations to better prepare. If you do the prior to getting out survey, please come back and ask the post survey when you have time. Thanks for your help. Let me know how you are feeling about this new COVID-19 world in the comments below .