When a disaster strikes, IT infrastructure is not the first thing most people think about repairing. However, in today’s digital age, access to the Internet and related technology is critically important to many aspects of our lives. The ITDRC helps IT students learn valuable skills while serving communities in need.
Orange County ICT-DM Regional Director Steve Linthicum is a member of the Information Technology Disaster Recovery Center (ITDRC), a nonprofit that deploys volunteer tech teams to areas impacted by natural disasters or other catastrophic events. Linthicum joined the organization in 2018 and completed his first service trip to the Bahamas in October 2019.
Linthicum detailed the experience and his preparation for working in a disaster zone on his blog. He took four FEMA classes to become familiar with the organization’s incident and command management systems.
He found the experience in the Bahamas to be very rewarding and realized how much he took online connectivity for granted.
“Given the opportunity to help people by providing access to the Internet resulted in so many people thanking us,” he wrote on his blog. “Think about how you would feel being cut off from the world for two months with no idea what is going on.”
Linthicum can already see how participating in ITDRC will benefit community college students and faculty, particularly in parts of Butte County that were impacted by the Camp Fire.
“Place yourself in the position of an employer, looking to hire an entry level employee,” he said. Think about the impression it would have on you to find a resume listing that identified membership in the ITDRC, detailing volunteer activities that relate to providing network helpdesk support for Medspire, a medical clinic established in response to the Camp Fire.”
Students at Butte College received vouchers from Cisco to take their industry certifications for free after they were impacted by the fire. The effort was facilitated by the Western Academy Support & Training Center (WASTC) and Linda Fisher, an IT instructor at Butte College and head of its Cisco Academy.
“Linda and her students were amazed and sent some incredible thank you notes talking about the days of and after the fire,” said WASTC coordinator Karen Stanton. “Hats off to Butte College and Cisco, a very good partnership for their students. It was a very fun project to work on.”
On November 23, ITDRC is coordinating a field trip to visit libraries, schools, churches, and other sites in Butte County that the organization’s volunteers previously worked on. The goal for this trip is to monitor performance, perform basic troubleshooting, and decommission sites that are no longer needed.