IT worker heads to USVI ahead of strengthening storm
By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross
July 29, 2020- David Schindler is heading to his 35th assignment as an information technology (IT) volunteer for the American Red Cross, as tropical storm Isaias chugs toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
He is being deployed as the disaster services technology chief, responsible for setting up workstations, ensuring connectivity, and troubleshooting tech issues for Red Cross disaster workers who could be assigned to respond to the storm.
“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” said the unassuming IT expert from his home in Lake County, as he prepared Tuesday night for his trip to St. Thomas, USVI.
How long he stays is anybody’s guess.
“I spent 21 months in Austin, Texas for the Hurricane Katrina response,” David said, recalling one of his first Red Cross assignments. It was also his longest, but lengthy assignments are routine for him.
“I spent six months in Puerto Rico for (responding to) Hurricane Maria,” where he helped establish satellite services for the people of the devastated island.
“David is an outstanding volunteer, and an outstanding individual,” said Emily Probst, the workforce engagement manager for the Red Cross of Northern Ohio. “So many people depend on him, and he always answers the call.”
“I call myself a Red Cross roadie,” David said, recalling the Jackson Browne song about the workers who are the first to arrive to set up the stage and the band’s equipment, and are the last to leave after packing everything away for the next show on the tour.
David spent a career as an information technology systems manager before retiring 16 years ago and using his experience to assist us whenever and wherever people need Red Cross help.
What’s changed since then? “Laptops have gotten lighter. Cellphones are different. We had flip phones when I started. Now we use smartphones.”
David rates the technology we use as state-of-the art.
As a disaster services technology chief, David said he has worked with up to 80 others on disaster responses, and at times, he has been the sole technology worker.
“Every operation has unique challenges,” David said. He’s not too concerned about traveling for this assignment, despite COVID-19. The Red Cross is following CDC guidelines and has instituted several procedures to ensure the health and safety of its workforce and the people we are assisting.
“I’m a little concerned about wearing a face covering all day, but it’s a petty thing when you think about the job we’re doing.”
If you’re healthy and you would like to help others who may be affected by severe weather this hurricane/wildfire season by working in a shelter, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.