Deskside Support Technician
Looking Forward to Deployment on USAID
Mario Cotom joined Catapult in November 2010 as a Deskside Support Technician on the help desk staffed by Catapult on a contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
“I’d just gotten out of the Army and liked the idea of working for the government,” he says.
As a help desk technician in USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), Mario provides phone and deskside support to OFDA employees, assisting them with software and hardware issues. OFDA is charged with reacting to international disasters. On the contract, Catapult is tasked with supporting the IT and communications services for Disaster Assistance Response Teams (DARTs), which provide humanitarian assistance when disaster strikes and the U.S. can provide assistance.
“Functioning communications services can be the difference between life and death,” says Mario. “We’re tasked with maintaining those communications channels.”
While the help desk supports USAID in its Washington, D.C. headquarters, Mario says that he and his fellow help desk team members are ready to react in case of an international emergency. “We could be deployed to support a situation almost anywhere,” he says.
Mario hasn’t been deployed yet, but USAID has sent Catapult team members—he works with about ten others—to Haiti, Sudan, Dominican Republic, and Chile.
Echoing the Army philosophy, Mario says he is ready when the time comes. “I look forward to being called wherever there is a need,” he adds. OFDA serves locations that are often in remote, developing areas with little or no infrastructure. It’s imperative to maintain streamlined day-to-day operational capacity as well as 24/7 response capacity.
That’s why Mario and his team members are so important.
For four years in the Army, Mario was stationed in Kuwait and Bahrain. As a Sergeant, he was an Information Technology Specialist, providing network support. “The skill set was easy to transfer to Catapult,” he says.
At Catapult, Mario is working with what he calls a “very knowledgeable group.”
“I’ve learned a lot,” he adds. Most help desks take a day or two to address a ticket, says Mario, but the OFDA team is faster than that, usually fixing a problem within 30 minutes or less. “It’s similar to the military, where you’re always on short notice,” he says. “The similarity is what I like. You do your job and support the people in the field.”
“Catapult helps OFDA keep communications channels open,” says Mario. “It’s clear that Catapult is well-equipped to handle that critical function.”