A Failure of Leadership

“When in danger or in doubt, run in circles scream and shout!”

–Herman Wouk, The Caine Mutiny

The Caine Mutiny is the 1951 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Herman Wouk which chronicles the increasingly irrational behavior of Lieutenant Commander Philip Francis Queeg, a by-the-book veteran naval officer, as he loses the respect of the officers and crew of the USS Caine, who ultimately relieve Queeg of command during a typhoon leading to a final dramatic court martial.

For students of the power and possibilities of leadership, the novel – and subsequent 1954 film starring Humphry Bogart – demonstrate how a lack of effective communication, perceived tyranny, paralysis of action, incompetence, and inconsistency can quickly conspire to erode confidence – something that can prove extremely dangerous during a crisis.

I am limiting this Friday’s Angels & Assholes to the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County – which, in my view, has taken on all the characteristics of a rudderless ship – because the ham-handed, wholly disorganized, and conflicting nature of the initial distribution of a limited supply of potentially lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine this week made national news and served as a horrific example of what happens when poorly led government agencies run amok. 

As often happens during a catastrophe, some heroes emerged.   

In my view, the Daytona Beach Police Department acted flawlessly – and we owe them a debt of gratitude for doing what they do best in developing an organized and effective traffic plan while providing physical security – after being handed a steaming pile of bullshit by the FDOH and asked to make apple pandowdy.

After the confusing mess of Monday morning, that evening the vacillating nature of the FDOH dissemination “plan” left one thousand Volusia County seniors camped in their cars, locked inside the Daytona Stadium venue with temperatures dipping to the 40’s, to prevent the massive accumulation of cars parked on the shoulder of LPGA Boulevard.

Does any of that seem reasonable, organized, or effective to you?    

In turn, thousands more were shooed away from the first come/first served chaos – which one vaccine-seeking senior aptly described as a “cluster (expletive)” in The Daytona Beach News-Journal – with many more questioning why their public health apparatus is making the distribution process so intentionally difficult? 

There were poignant stories of grandparents desperate to receive the vaccine so they could cuddle their grandchildren after months of isolation – while others with preexisting conditions worried that they would succumb to the virus before they had the opportunity to be inoculated. 

Desperate.  Confused.  Frustrated.  Life and death.   

In my view, because the stakes are so incredibly high, this is perhaps the greatest failure of local leadership in our time – and it should not go unaddressed. 

Look, I am not an expert.  God knows I made my share of mistakes during my time in government.

But my career development included earning the Florida Professional Emergency Manager designation – and I can tell you with certainty that the mass distribution of medical countermeasures for epidemic illness and high consequence biological events is nothing new. 

So why aren’t these established, tested, and exercised plans being implemented?

Part of my education and preparation included the study of “disaster ethics” – which state providers have an obligation to deliver care and services consistent with the professional standards of consistency, fairness, effectiveness, and transparency. 

That is not what I am seeing here.  Are you? 

Having served in a leadership role during dynamic events and been responsible for developing public policy and protocols for the command and control of multijurisdictional emergencies, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the FDOH in Volusia County is not up to this monumental task.

Now is the time for Governor Ron DeSantis to pull out all the stops, lobby for an increased supply of vaccine and improve logistics, engage medical elements of the Florida National Guard, seek private assistance if necessary, and turn every quick care facility, hospital, pharmacy, primary care physician, and every suitable parking lot in the state into a vaccine distribution site – or demand that the response be federalized and simply get out of the way. 

Time is of the essence – and this “cluster (expletive)” cannot continue.   

Photo Credit: WFTV-9

12 thoughts on “A Failure of Leadership

  1. Seniors, the at-risk, and everyone else, for that matter, should take responsibility for their own health. Buy some Vitamin D3 and Vitamin C, ignore all the hoopla, take off the masks, and get back to living their lives. Just sayin’.

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    1. Not being of senior status yet, I agree with you for me personally. Remember though…it has been pounded by the media that the elderly are most at risk for bad outcomes since day 1 of this virus. I know more seniors that are terrified of getting this virus than not. Now we have these “new positive cases” in the thousands being reported daily. This terrifies them even more! At the same time the vaccine miraculously comes into being and seniors are told they are a priority group to receive. This is their light at the end of the tunnel. They truly believe this. As far as the vaccine being the be all, end all…who knows. But it’s not hard to see how they, seniors, can be so desperately clamoring for the “promise” of their tommorows. I trust The roll out will become more organized as we live and learn.

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    2. 66 and compromised, gonna wait till some semblance of leadership is shown, DOH Fail!
      Staying put for another year???

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  2. According to a post from Volusia County DOH it was State DOH not county that facilitated the first come, first serve “SNAFU”

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  3. On the other hand, my wife and I learned of a vaccination event in Deltona. At 3:00 pm today we pressed our choice of time, filled in a few details and just like that we had an appointment for this Thursday. Easier than buying concert tickets and I get to sleep in my nice warm bed. We’ll see if it goes smoothly on Thursday but it beats sleeping in the car.

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    1. The Deltona event was the epitome of organization. Arrived at appointed time, met with friendly helpful staff, followed the line to the vaccine site, got our vaccine and were on our way home in less than an hour.

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  4. Spoke to Jeff Brower yesterday.The Volusia chiefs had no idea about this cluster because it was a press release from FDOH and Daytona Beach.Volusia told FDOH nothing happens from now on unless they are informed of everything they are going to do.Derrick Henry is a cluster.Ron DeSantis tonight said he wants vaccines given out at every Publix.This moving game of parking lots is bullshit.Thank you Mark for caring as I am 72 and my wife is 67 and we are married 48 years and we both got covid Dec 12.Problem is science and so called doctors cant tell us how long to wait to get the vaccine.One said a week the other said 3 months and Advent where we were tested said call your doctor.

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  5. A drive in vaccination… give me a break.

    Rent a room at the mall, park outside and get vaccinated inside so you can be observed for adverse reactions. Better yet, let Quest and Lab Core take appointments… that’s what they do.

    Besides, the majority of seniors won’t even take a vaccine that FDA hasn’t approved. Seniors like me won’t even take it even if it was approved.

    At 50 doses per vial, they are only using 20 vials per day. WT…?

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  6. The whole thing is one giant SNAFU. A clusterf78k (trying to sort-of be polite). It is ridiculous – we have over 550,000 residents in Volusia County and so far they’ve given out 2,000 vaccines to people (other than the special people, I’m assuming, like the Daytona mayor, etc.) over a 4-day period while they sit & freeze in their vehicles. What brilliant idiot came up with this plan? I live in Ormond Beach & I’m 60, although I have severe issues, I’m not old enough & quite frankly, I don’t even get a flu or pneumonia shot and I’m not quite sure about this vaccine myself, but Daytona would be convenient for me; however, what about DeLand residents? Debary? Orange City? I could go on, obviously. I don’t know Volusia County as well as some of you folks (I moved to OB 30 years ago from up North) but it seems a bit unfair to people in Edgewater, New Smyrna Beach, etc. to have to travel from their homes and then wait in line for hours for something they may or may not receive. I’ve had it with local politicians and the DOH is right up there with them now!

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    1. Psycho
      My wife and I came to Florida 10 years ago and it is always a cluster if I live in Palm Beach or Ormond.These are very tough times and we all have to work together and be patient with the delays in delivery.I think the DeSantis idea of doing it in your local Publix works for me.We have our pnemonia and flu shots which I think stopped the severity of the Covid we got.Take care wear a mask and keep your distance and keep washing your hands.We did it and hope it works for you did not for us.Hopefully this country comes together on the 20th.We can’t let the world look at us like Venezuela.Hate has to stop or we self destruct no matter who you back.Love your family

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