Backup: The Unsung Heroes
A crackle comes over the radio, “Backup, Backup. This is Group 1. We need…”
This is a common experience for the two people who share the duties of Backup. Something comes up in the field and these two respond and take care of it.
“Backup” is the title given to our Field Support Coordinators. These positions are often unseen, but ever so vital to the support we provide for our staff and clients. In some ways the name Backup is ironic in the sense that they are really the first line of support for our groups, however they "back up" our groups in the field and so the nickname sticks.
The Backup area of our office feels like an air traffic control tower. This is where Backup tracks so much vital information about our groups. We have a whiteboard that fills an entire wall. It has all the information about each of our groups that is needed on a daily basis. To compliment this is the other wall that is one giant topographic map. Between these two, Backup tracks and coordinates where our groups are in the wilderness at all times. In this room you can hear the chatter on the radio of Backup coordinating out in the field with groups as they drive their rounds to everyone. Our groups check in daily with Backup, letting them know all their current information for our office to have displayed between these two walls.
Ever wonder how all that stuff gets out to the wilderness? Letters, fresh laundry, medicine, tasty food, gear, and any number of items our folks need out in the field likely goes through Backup. The work we do out in the backcountry relies on a tether of sorts to our office and base of operations. It is the role of Backup to keep this tether attached at all times. Backup knows their way around the field like nobody else. Similar to the depth of knowledge a London cabbie has to quickly navigate a spiderweb of back alleys and side roads, Backup does this with the faintest of dirt two-tracks, side roads, gravel tracks, and wilderness trails. Backup coordinates with all our groups to plan out expedition hiking itineraries and works out precise pick ups and drop offs to groups.
Backup needs the right tool for the right job. Their trusty steed is a 4x4 pickup truck capable of driving out in any conditions our field area throws at them. These trucks rack up the miles with Backup roughly driving around 80,000 miles a year in support of our groups. As of November this year, we retire two of these Backup trucks to make room for two new ones. These trucks need to work almost as hard as the Backup folks themselves and need to be just as reliable! Going into another winter season, Backup will be prepared with these trucks to take on the elements.
I remember being a field staff hiking all day and wishing to come around the corner and find our cache of water and food to reward yet another hike. Without fail I would walk up to that indistinct tree or shrub and find all the items we needed for our clients and staff…exactly where Backup told me they would be.
Evoke is fortunate to have two incredible humans who play this role. Both were field staff prior to being Backup. They “get it” when it comes to everything happening in the field. They know what it takes to support our clients and staff. They know all the best spots to hole up during a storm, the coolest day hikes to unique natural wonders, and what it takes to always get a vehicle to the field no matter the weather.
If you took a first responder, an off-road driving master, a field instructor, and a mechanic and rolled them into one human, you might begin to understand the value of these “Unsung Heroes” of Evoke.