Today we continue this week’s series from my interview with Samantha Steerman. She’s the first woman ever to hold the position of vessel traffic coordinator, or dispatcher, for the Columbia River Bar Pilots.

To imagine yourself in her job, picture yourself sitting at a desk with a microphone, a radio transmitter and receiver, and a telephone, in an office with colleagues  who are also asking necessary questions and checking in with important information. Not to mention numerous ships transiting the river inbound and outbound. All of these things may be happening at once.

At any given moment, she’s interpreting a scratchy radio transmission from the captain of an incoming ship whose first language is not English, fielding phone calls about ship and pilot transits, and talking with pilots who need to check in with her about other priorities.

Let’s just say it’s a job for someone with a cool head, a lot of multitasking abilities and skills, and inside knowledge about the local maritime industry.