Reservist

ISS1 2018

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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t he night the hurricane hit, Chief Petty Officer Michael Bazzrea was on his farm in Oklahoma with a cell phone glued to his ear. The members of his sector's reserve enforcement team were chomping at the bit, wondering when they'd be recalled. Not yet, click. Not yet, click. I don't know when, but be ready when we do, click. Bazzrea, a member of the Sector Houston-Galveston's Response Department reserve enforcement team, watched the news and kept in touch with Sector's Reserve Force Readiness Staff chief, Lt. Cmdr. Omar Barajas. "Things were changing every six hours," said Barajas, who also spent much of his time on the phone, working to organize more than 200 Sector Houston-Galveston reservists in response to the late August monster storm, Hurricane Harvey. "Every few hours the need would change." The next morning, Bazzrea finally got the call to mobilize as many members of his team as he could. He stood down from his job as a federal agent with the Department of Homeland Security and grabbed his Coast Guard uniform. He and his wife would look to neighbors and friends to help with the farm while he was away, but he wasn't worried. "The small community I'm from is about helping our neighbors when they have a need," said Bazzrea. "It's just how life is in rural America. Even though these people we were helping were hundreds and thousands of miles away they're still our global neighbors – and fellow Americans." With his mind clicking through numbers and scenarios, he began calling back the members of his team to let them know it was time. The maritime enforcement specialists began arriving at sector as early as 10 a.m. Sector Houston doesn't have active duty MEs, so some of the reservists began setting up a security perimeter around the base. The rest of the law enforcement team began manning the phones in the emergency call center. They stayed there for the first few days of the response. "About 70 percent of my team works in law enforcement," said Bazzrea, who was thankful for their fire department or EMS expertise when it came to dealing with triaging emergency calls. "Having that outside [law enforcement] experience, other than maritime LE, helped out tremendously." Besides having a ready set of 60-day mobilization orders queued up, Bazzrea said it helped that all 10 of the enforcement team members were trained and ready to respond in their law enforcement capacity. "All the people in [boarding team member] billets are qualified, and same for the boarding officers. Plus, all my BOs are BOCAs [Boarding Officer Certified Ashore]. That's why we were able to deploy so quickly and do so many things. We knew many of our active duty counter parts weren't able to report in, but we were able to tell them, 'Don't worry, stay home and take care of your families and neighbors. We've got this.'" Once the call center duties were transferred to Coast Guard Headquarters, the reserve enforcement team was able to take on other non-traditional maritime LE roles, like helping do security assessments on facilities in the port, which was still closed. At one point, they provided security for Sector Field Office Galveston, Texas, the place where the Coast Guard was amassing supplies and providing support to displaced family mec m ichael Bazzrea ➡ st . th omas, u . s . v . i . B y a nastasia d evlin Chief Petty Officer Michael Bazzrea on roving foot patrols around the island of St. t homas. a fter the storm, his team accompanied the Coast Guard teams that were doing damage assessments, and provided armed escorts for supplies. Issue 1 • 2018 � RESERVIST 29

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