Remember a few weeks (months? Oops) ago when I made such a stink about how damage control is a team effort? I thought I’d gotten the point across, but apparently I didn’t.

We’re finally out of the yards and back to business as usual (or, as usual as life can be under the circumstances). Part of this means In-port Emergency Team drills. IET. Big deal. If it hits the fan in the middle of the night, the duty section is all that stands between you and complete destruction. For IETs drills (or heaven forbid, actual casualties) it doesn’t matter if you’re actually on the watchbill. You show up, and you contribute.

That’s problem #1; everyone assumes someone else will show up to take care of it. The last drill I did had collapsed duty sections, so I should have had twice the usual number of people to work with. I had roughly half of a full locker, and no one who actually showed up was on the list. Suffice to say, I was unhappy.

Problem #2: My locker went rogue.

Recipe for disaster.

It happened during a duty section drill. CHENG is our CDO; he takes these things rather seriously. It was after the normal work day, so there was no excuse for people not to show up. Did they? Of course not. IET functions with just a locker leader instead of locker leader + officer; I was prepared for that. I wasn’t prepared to not have a plotter. Or a phone talker. Or much of anyone else, for that matter.

I certainly wasn’t prepared for my fire party to dress out and leave without a word. I couldn’t even get a muster. I found someone dressing out in SCBA but not firefighting coveralls; that’s a problem. The lesser of two evils is to put him on a boundary. Still not the best scenario, but it’s better than sending him straight into the fire. Next thing I know, I get the word the fire party has appropriated my boundaryman, put him on the hose, even though in real life that would kill him. So now I’m short a boundaryman. I send out another; I never hear back from her. Meanwhile, I have no idea how many people are on the fire party, because the scene leader decided to neither check in at the locker nor take a freaking radio with him. Also, they never bothered to tell me when they went on air; I need that information.

Confession time. I didn’t quite yell at a LCDR, but I spoke rather sharply. CHENG stopped by the locker and started asking me questions about personnel. Maybe I shouted, “I have no idea, because my freaking team leader left without a word, didn’t tell me who he was taking with him, didn’t take a radio, and apparently stole my boundaryman, and I have no people to send out for boundaries because apparently this duty section doesn’t think an alpha fire in berthing is a big deal!” So much for keeping cool under pressure, but I was feeling rather powerless.

Long story short, we lost the berthing. I was ready for a chewing out. I was in charge, and I couldn’t maintain control of the locker. I couldn’t even get a freaking muster.

After the gear was restowed, we mustered the duty section on the messdecks. Lo and behold, we found a whole slew of people who were basic DC but decided the drill didn’t apply to them. Chewing out #1. To my surprise, the second chewing out wasn’t directed at me; it was directed at everyone except for me. “You can’t get fixated on the watchbill,” said CHENG, “but you can’t just start swapping people out on a whim. You on the fire party, that is not your job. That is the locker leader’s job. Let her do her job. She knows how to manage that locker, but she can’t do it if you won’t support her. You can’t just do your own thing. Your locker leader couldn’t give you the help you needed because you didn’t let her manage things; you start doing your own thing again, and you’re going to get yourselves killed.”

So can we review the lesson one more time?

Damage control is a team effort. Ugh, I thought we’d established that by now.

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