William Hooper, Sr.
According to the U.S. EPA website, the Agency manages a “nationwide RadNet system that monitor’s the nation’s air, precipitation, drinking water, and pasteurized milk to track radiation in the environment. The system will detect higher than normal radiation levels during a radiological incident, (such as the one that happened recently in Fukushima, Japan). It is made up of more than 100 stationary radiation air monitors in 48 states and another 40 portable (deployable) air monitors that can be sent anywhere in the U.S. It runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and sends near-real-time measurements of radiation to EPA’s National Air and Radiation Laboratory. Computers continuously review this data. If there is a meaningful increase in radiation levels, laboratory staff will immediately investigate.”
Mr. William Hooper Sr. works as an Equipment Support Technician with the EPA Emergency Response Team at the national lab in Las Vegas, Nevada. His main responsibility is to make sure the on-site deployable units function properly so they are ready to be dispersed rapidly when/wherever necessary. Since these units involve communication via satellite or phone line, his first step is to set up a unit and check these transmissions individually. If each operates properly, the unit is shut down and Mr. Hooper must remove several subassemblies for calibration. After the calibration process, he reinstalls the subassemblies and rechecks the unit for proper operation. This requires feedback from the Iridium Satellite and coordination with his counterparts in Alabama. If the communication is good following all this, the unit is considered to be operational and ready for service. Although this process takes the majority of his time, related duties require him to assist in the actual deployment of units to project sites; monitor other systems and equipment such as generators and spare parts; assist with equipment inventory, inspection and storage; and assist with presentations and hands-on training of deployable monitors.
Mr. Hooper says, “The most challenging aspect of my responsibility is, daily, I have to figure out how I can fit myself into our assignment and make the EPA team more effective. It’s like being a sixth man on a basketball team.” During his Navy days, Mr. Hooper played basketball for the San Miguel Comets in the Philippines where he acquired the nickname “Dr. Hoop”, a spin-off of the famous “Dr. J” of that era. To this day that name has stuck, as is evidenced by the vanity plate on his car.
Mr. Hooper brought to EPA his strong electronics training and 21 years of hands-on experience earned while serving as an Electronics Technician in the U.S. Navy, followed by 14 years with United Airlines as an Electronics Mechanic working on everything from cabin pressure indicators to “black boxes”. He said he can “thank Mr. Brian Donaldson, my former supervisor at United Airlines, for giving me the opportunity to work on a variety of electronic equipment. It was the perfect training I needed in preparation for this assignment as a SEE enrollee with NOWCC.”