Preparing for emergencies, logistics and vaccine distribution

Vicki Strand at a drive-through vaccination clinic for Lane County Public Health

Editor’s note: Duck of the Week is a section in Around the O Workplace that highlights UO employees and their work. Each story features an interview with one employee, in his or her own words, with light editing for clarity and length only.

Vicki Strand
Interim Continuity and Emergency Manager

How long have you worked at the UO?

I have worked at the University of Oregon for over 22 years. I’ve only been in my current role for five months, however.

Tell us about your work:

My job is to organize plans so that when emergencies happen, the university knows how to deal with it. Our main goal is to try and get in front of unexpected things that happen. Nobody gets in front of a pandemic, of course, but we try to put together and update protocols for other things like winter weather or strikes. When those situations happen, we also try to take leadership in navigating those activities.

What does your typical day look like?

I don’t know what a typical day looks like right now. I’m an event planner, and before getting into this role I used to run football games and track meets of all sizes. That’s my natural habitat. But now I’m trying to set things up so I can back away and start working on another project for the university.

There are multiple people within the UO Emergency Management office who partner with Lane County Public Health to work on vaccine distribution. I have been tasked with setting up drive thru vaccination clinics for the county, and am in close collaboration with Lane County Public Health and Lane County Emergency Management. I use my contacts with event equipment companies as well as my experience in large event logistics develop a work flow and build the site. The current plan is to have multiple drive-thru sites open in Eugene and Springfield as vaccine supply expands.  There are others within UO and Lane County Public Health who work on walk-in clinics and other options for communities to access in the county.

I spend most of my time in front of a computer in my kitchen. I’m learning things very fast now, with all of the meetings and discussions. I'm very active with the Incident Management Team on campus at the moment and help by filling in roles whenever they need it. Right now, we are all focusing on vaccinations and how that works in the county, in the city, and on campus. I am responsible for putting together logistics for vaccine clinics and am working with the county on their drive-thru vaccination operations.

What do you like about working at the UO?

I love being on a college campus. Prior to being at the UO, I was at the University of Idaho. I just enjoy the college atmosphere, especially the youth, energy, and focus on education. I also love the Willamette Valley. I like that there’s always new challenges to tackle. You’re not doing the same thing every day. What I always liked about event planning is when you work towards something, you know you will get it done and move on to the next thing. There's always a finish line. Emergency management is a little bit different, but you’re still constantly pivoting to address new challenges.

What keeps you motivated?

I am inspired by the commitment and the passion of the people that I work with. These are tough times, but everybody is so committed. I also enjoy working with people who have such a different take on situations and contribute creative ideas to how we can address certain issues. It’s so much fun to listen to them talk, and I enjoy having discussions and just meeting new people. That’s what’s gotten me so excited about this position and what I’m doing. 

What is something people may not know about you?

I graduated from the University of Oregon. I grew up in a family where I had three much older siblings who all played piano, and my earliest memory at my house was hearing them practice. I began accompanying choirs and vocalists starting in junior high and did that all through high school.

My advisor sent me to the Bach Festival and told me they might have some good internship programs. I interned with their marketing director and learned how to set up their concessions and merchandise sales. I was then recruited by their business manager to do an internship with her. It was an incredible opportunity, and that’s kind of how I started my journey and ended up with a B.S. in music.

Vicki Strand is part of Safety and Risk Services.

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