(Previously published at Nerdcaliber).
Ever been to a big convention? Ever see people in need of medical help – or giving it? Ever wonder what it’s like to handle health services at a con – or the kind of people who do it?
Meet James Fedora of Operation Hammond (http://www.operationhammond.com/), an all volunteer-team that provides medical services to conventions and media events.
James has an incredible life of his own, from military service to helping people out at cons. Let’s take a look at his story, and the story of a true profan group.
1. So James, first, let’s give people a look at your background and career – how did you get where you are now?
It’s never easy for a person to get where he is professionally in life. Here is my official bio but there is more to me as a nerd and a person.James M. Fedora is a NREMT-B and OEMS EMT-B in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He has spent the past 4 years as a EMT in the UK and USA. He currently works for a private ambulance service doing a variety of emergency and medical transport duties. He spent six years in the US Air Force as a mechanic and medic. He did combat tours in Iraq and was stationed in England, Japan and Germany. He is an accomplished veteran staffer of many anime, sci-fi and pop culture conventions, with experience in fields such as Security, Medical, Logistics, Public Relations, Photography and Operations. To date, he has staffed over 60 conventions/events in the UK, Japan and USA. He has been an operations and safety adviser to many other pop culture conventions in the UK and USA. He has traveled around the world attending anime, sci-fi and pop culture conventions. He founded Operation Hammond, the only non profit organization dedicated to the unique medical, social and safety needs of pop culture and fan conventions.
As you can see my background is diverse and spans many years. A friend I once knew said traveling around the world was the equivalent of having a college degree. I don’t know of he was right or not but one thing’s for sure living around the world has influenced my professional life in many ways and shaped me as a nerd and a pop culture fan. I really hit my stride in about 2006 when I was stationed in the UK for the military. I worked a lot with the pop culture scene in the UK and found the fans and people to be some of the most close knit in the world. It was there I truly got my bearings as an nerd and a professional.
I have always had a interest in helping other people and first aid. When I was a kid I was a Boy Scout I went through the whole program all the way to achieving my Eagle Scout. It was only natural when the military gave me the opportunity to become a medic I took it with eagerness. I served as a medic in addition to my normal military job until my discharge in 2009.
Once I was out of the Military I got a job at a busy Ambulance service. The more I worked as a EMT the more I thought there must be a way to bridge my professional life and nerd life in a way no one has done before that’s how the basic idea of Operation Hammond started.
2. What is the goal of Operation Hammond, in your worlds.
The goal of Operation Hammond is to help nerds in times of need. Operation Hammond is more than just a medical aid organization we are over all nerd social charity that has the right people and skills to fill a desperately needed niche within the fan community.
3. How wide does Operation Hammond “spread its wings” – what events are you looking at?
Operation Hammond is a new fairly new concept, up until now no group has formally existed with in the scope of federal, state and local laws as a non profit organization dedicated to providing social aid, First Aid and Emergency Medical Care to pop culture events and conventions. Up until now most conventions and events have depended on a loose network of EMT, Nurses and Medical professionals to provide First Aid and Medical care at pop culture events and conventions. Often times conventions and events are forced to pay a private Ambulance Service to provide First Aid care at a very high cost with very little service in return. Many conventions even opt to not have First Aid Services since they view it as a huge unneeded liability and are afraid of getting sued. While these options work Operation Hammond aim is to provide First Aid and Social Care that is 100% insured medically and liability, run by a dedicated group with good guiding principals and cheaper then hiring a outside Ambulance Service.
Operation Hammond is a non profit organization incorporated in Massachusetts and we have submitted out paperwork to the federal government to obtain our 501c status as a tax free non profit organization. We are a considerable asset to have at a event or convention since we have the organizational structure to ensure the group will not disband or fade into the night as they say. We have three events right now we are doing with more to follow as the year progresses.
Operation Hammond is willing to do and support any events with in the pop culture and nerd community. If we can do a event we will support the event or convention to the best of our ability.
Operation Hammond will never have any paid staff for the foreseeable future. I am a firm believer of volunteerism and commitment to one’s community. A person has to want to give back to his community and organizations that inspire him or her, I feel Operation Hammond is a place where people can do this.
Operation Hammond will always be a place where people volunteer their time in service of others, It’s one of our founding principles. We will and always be a volunteer organization to be anything else in my opinion would be wrong. Operation Hammond exists to help nerds in their time of need, we can’t do that if we were for a for profit group.
Wow what a fantastic question. Just starting Operation Hammond has introduced me to a whole new facet of EMS. I have found myself on a steep learning curve while starting Operation Hammond which is essentially a non profit volunteer EMS/Social Aid Organization. I have found myself becoming a better professional EMT while doing this and its been a lot of fun. I have learned so much about EMS Agency operations that make me appreciate and respect all the behind the scene work that happens for a EMS and Charity organization to exist.
I have a wonderful staff and they too are becoming better people and professional as Operation Hammond morphs from essentially a idea to the most unique social nerd charity. My staff as well as me are become better professionals as we work together to build Operation Hammond into the premier nerd social aid charity. With out my fantastic staff I could not do this Operation Hammond is not a effort by a single person its a group effort from people who want to do good things to help other nerds in need.
Anyone is welcome to join us, you don’t have to be a EMT or know first aid to join. Every person has a skill that can help others it takes a talented group of people to find that person. Operation Hammond will always be a place where everyone is welcomed as long as they have the drive and will to help others.
7. How far does Operation Hammond reach – and can people help it reach farther?
Right now we have members based in New England down to New Jersey. We also have members in the UK which in time will form a chapter over there. The best way for people to help us reach further is to join and offer their ideas, time and wisdom. Without good people who are willing to volunteer their time Operation Hammond would not be where it is today.
Conventions and Events are fantastic ways for people to improve their careers or get into certain facets of their careers they may not normally be in their normal job or life. I have seen this first hand many times with success.. A common question I ask to fellow staffers at cons is “So what do you do when your not staff” The answer they give always surprise me since it’s normally a total opposite to what their convention or event job is.
I remember back to my first convention when I was essentially drafted to do security, since the staff was out gunned The more the convention progressed the more I found myself enjoying security and gaining the admiration of the con chairman. I remember people kept saying things me things like “Wow you must go to MIT” or “You must be a cop or something”. While those comments were very humbling it gave me the desire and motivation to thrust myself into a new carrier and change my life. Shortly there after I made and commitment and I lost 85 pounds and joined the US Air Force.
The rest of the story you know, however it’s been a wild adventure that has taken me around the world from Japan to Iraq morphing myself into the professional “otaku” aka nerd that you see today.
Thanks James for what you’ve done, are doing – and a bright future in making a difference!