Latest flood news: Coralville Lake down to 700.34 feet | Dubuque Street partially reopened (More info)
Get to Know...Mike Hartley
Main Page Content
So what do you do here?
I am the emergency management coordinator for University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Following 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, hospitals across the U.S. began to implement more robust disaster preparedness and emergency response programs to improve their ability to continue to provide patient care services in the face of disasters. The emergency management coordinator position was created at UIHC in 2008, and I was assigned to the role in March of that year.
Under the guidance of a 34-member Emergency Management Subcommittee, my job is to monitor daily for any threats to the hospitals and clinics' ability to provide health care services, write and update plans to deal with various natural, man-made, and technological disaster situations, and provide training for staff on what to do during a disaster.
Three months after implementing this new position, we experienced one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit this area, the flood of 2008. Along with the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009-10, a number of these kinds of situations have occurred over the past four years that have made this job interesting and quite challenging.
What do you enjoy most about working in a higher education setting?
In this day and age, emergency management personnel can be found in many subsets of society—state, county, and local government, private industry, the military, etc. What I like most about working in an academic setting is the diverse level of expertise and support that is available on campus when it’s needed, and an academic environment’s inherent drive for pursuing cutting-edge excellence in what we do.
I also like the frequent collaboration with my colleagues from other facilities and programs around the region and country. No one has seen or experienced everything related to this discipline. Those who work in academia tend to readily exchange ideas and experiences, which enables us to learn from others and do our jobs better—which is ultimately beneficial to those we serve.
Take us through your most memorable day at the university.
During the flood of 2008, I was called to the hospital boardroom to give an in-person report on the situation after working 12- to 16-hour shifts for six days at the county Emergency Operations Center. I had been trying to make sure that UI Hospitals and Clinics had what it needed to continue its operations while dealing with the various problems that the flood had caused us. Normally, I phoned in situation reports to the hospital twice each day, thus I thought it was odd that I was asked to come in person. I had been in the boardroom once before in the 16 years I had been at the hospital.
Being the “new guy”, who up until three months prior was teaching classes, I had no idea what I was walking into. In the room were about 80 people: hospital leadership, UI vice president–level personnel, and Board of Regents members. As my heart rate accelerated, I figured, “Well, if I’m going to crash and burn, at least I’m going to go down big.” After presenting the situation report to the group, surprisingly, a rousing round of applause arose from them…the leadership demonstrated genuine appreciation for the work that had been done.
A unique day? Yes. Terrifying to the new disaster guy? Absolutely.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken—and did it pay off?
I remember noticing this attractive girl sitting ahead of me in a class that I was taking in college. I got up the courage to talk to her one day. She was nice enough to talk to me, and we became friends over time. She eventually confessed to me that she found me fairly annoying to be in class with—she said that I asked too many questions, which tended to cause class to last longer than normal. That being said, I ended up dating her, marrying her, and 31 years and two kids later, I am fortunate to still be with her. You have to take risks in life…many don’t pay off, but occasionally one does.
If you could spend a day with anyone, from any era, who would it be and why?
A tough question. If I had to choose, I would like to spend the day with John F. Kennedy, right before he was assassinated. This is a figure from our history that has had so much written about him, both positive and negative, but I sense that we still don’t know the whole truth to this day. I would like to find out how much that has been written about the man and his family was real, and how much was fabricated or conjecture. People speculate that this country would have been a much different place if he had lived to be re-elected. Like so many from my generation, I wish I had the opportunity to assess the man and his character for myself.
If you could have a song written about you, who would perform it, and what would it be called?
Jimmy Buffett: “It’s Just a Disaster…So Have Another Margarita”
If you could get rid of one invention in the world, what would you choose?
Gaming consoles and online gaming. From my vantage point, too many kids are squandering their developmental years by spending countless hours in front of a TV or computer using gaming technology. For many, going outside and playing ball in a vacant lot, going fishing, or playing driveway hoops has been replaced with sitting on a couch and manipulating a game controller. Face-to-face interaction with other kids and adults has been reduced in this day and age, which perhaps hampers the development of good people skills and normal conflict resolution abilities that kids need later in life.
A growing number of adults are getting caught up in these popular technological “time-wasters” as well—becoming Facebook junkies, online and fantasy gamers, etc. There is an important role for technology, but as with anything else, it should be used productively, in moderation, and not be allowed to replace direct human interaction.
Name some of your favorite things.
- A good prime rib and shrimp dinner (I miss The Lark in Tiffin, and other old-time “supper clubs”)
- Re-runs of MASH, and the old Two and a Half Men
- Family trips: Florida’s Gulf Coast—Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Clearwater Beach, and sitting under a palm tree listening to Jimmy Buffett music; cool, crisp mountain air and having a snowball fight with my son on the Fourth of July at 11,000 feet