Members of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workforce are helping the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) pandemic response by volunteering to help at community vaccination centers.
The volunteers are part of TSA’s Surge Capacity Force (SCF), a program for federal employees within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies that provides non-FEMA employees with an opportunity to support disaster response efforts. Individuals in the SCF leave their jobs and deploy as part of FEMA’s response effort for up to 45 days.
“TSA employees who volunteer to serve on the Surge Capacity Force have an inner passion that drives them to help others in need,” said Darby LaJoye, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the TSA Administrator. “They leave the comfort of their homes, families, and jobs to join FEMA’s efforts for weeks at a time. The push to vaccinate more Americans represents a fine example of how TSA and other DHS components jointly support the greater calling to assist our fellow Americans.”
The Surge Capacity Force has an estimated 400 volunteer members who have been deployed as part of FEMA’s hurricane relief efforts. Last month, TSA employees not working on the screening workforce were deployed in vaccination sites in Chicago, Ill. And Providence, R.I., to assist the administration in reaching President Biden’s goal of 100 million shots in arms in the first 100 days of his administration. Volunteers performed administrative duties and helped with logistics.
In Texas, TSA employees were trained to help with the vaccination response and, if they had not already received a vaccine, were given one when they arrived at their assigned location.
After Hurricane Katrina, Congress authorized the Surge Capacity Force as part of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006. The force was designed to allow all DHS staff with an opportunity to help communities and survivors after a large-scale disaster. Previously, the program was used in 2012 after Hurricane Sandy and in 2017 after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.