VOST Deployment Workbook Users Guide (for VOST Workbook Template 4.0)


How do I set up the workbook?        

Updating the Modified 204        

General Availability Table        

Check In/Out sheet        

VOST Activity Log        

Key Websites & Resources        

VOST Mission Tools        

Situational Awareness        

Social Media Feeds        

Local News Organizations        

Incident Response (Contact Info for Responding Agencies)        

Utilities/City Departments        

Damage Assessment        

Other SocMe People and Pages to Watch        

Search Results        

Date        

Time        

Name        

Summary        

Website URL        

Action Requested        

Note        

Team Members        

Parking Lot        

Time Zone Lookup        

Getting Support for this Tool        


VOST Deployment Workbook Users Guide by Marlita Reddy-Hjelmfelt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Why the workbook?

We use the workbook because we want all our incident information in one file, easily accessible, with data that can be referenced later for SMEM analysis and for administrative reports that will show the IMT the effort involved in running a deployment.

If you are familiar with ICS (Incident Command System) forms, you will recognize the 204 and the Activity Log. The other forms are intrinsic to operating a VOST and are tailored for the processes and procedures that have evolved on PNW2 VOST.

This guide will walk you though setting up and maintaining the workbook for an incident. If you have suggestions for improvement during your deployment, please enter them on the Parking Lot sheet and be sure that they are mentioned in the incident debrief, so we can get those changes discussed and implemented.

How do I set up the workbook?

  1. Get a fresh copy of the template. You can find the latest version here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AnDAEp6A8pB4dDNTR3lsTlhsamlMclY4XzVOYmp6Vnc
  2. Save it as your own for your incident.
  1. Open the template from the link in Step 1
  2. Click File
  3. Click Make a Copy
  4. In Enter a new document name, enter PNW2 [Fire Name] Fire Workbook
  5. Do NOT check the box that says Copy document collaborators. Click OK
  6. Now you have your own workbook!
  1. Set permissions for the workbook to Private only to set of e-mail addresses and add in each incident team member as they volunteer. (Use the blue Share button at top right of the document).
  2. Set the incident current date and time.
  1. Click File
  2. Click Spreadsheet Settings
  3. Go to Time Zone and choose correct time zone for the incident and click OK
  4. The sheets that have current time and date will automatically display that time zone when refreshed.
  1. Update the workbook name on the Cover sheet
  2. Add team member names to the Team Member sheet.

Updating the Modified 204

The Assignment Sheet should be updated daily – for each operational period.

  1. If this is not the first day of deployment, then copy the existing sheet to archive it.
  1. Click on the worksheet tab (at the bottom)
  2. Choose Copy to…
  3. For the dialogue named “Select a spreadsheet to copy this worksheet into” choose the same workbook you are currently in.
  4. A dialogue will appear that says “Open Target Workbook”. Click OK (not the words).
  5. There is a new sheet in your workbook, called Copy of ICS 204 Modified. This is the sheet to rename
  6. Click on the Copy worksheet tab and click the arrow. Choose Rename…
  7. Enter the previous day’s date as the new sheet name and click OK
  8. Move the dated sheet to the far right end by clicking and holding down the new sheet’s tab and dragging the sheet to the right.
  1. Situation Summary: Go to the Inciweb page for the current incident and copy the summary text. Paste it into cell B3. Copy the URL for the incident summary from Inciweb and paste that into cell B5. You only need to do this on first shift for each day.
  2. VOST Coordination Summary: This cell is your morning briefing for the VOST team. It usually sums up the previous day’s events; things team members should watch for; statistics from the SocMe Sites at end of previous day; and daily hours of effort expended (total for days, not by member)
  3. Branch: Unused – ignore.
  4. Division/Group: Unused – ignore.
  5. Incident Name: The name of the fire (or hurricane, etc)
  6. Operational Period: Fill in current date.
  7. Incident Commander: This is the IC for the EM entity’s team
  8. Public Information Officer: This is the PIO for the EM entity’s team
  9. VOST Team Lead: This is the overall Team Administrator
  10. VOST Assoc. Team Lead: This is the Associate Administrator, if applicable
  11. VOST Assoc. Team Lead: This is the Associate Administrator, if applicable
  12. Resources Assigned to This Period: There are three 4-hour shifts in a 12-hour operational period. Fill in the appropriate Shift Team Lead for each, if known.  Team Members may work less than 4-hours and should be filled in as they become available. Ad hoc Crew may be added if work is available off operational hours.
  13. Mission Statement(s): These should be set by the PIO and the Team Administrator and filled in, accordingly. They generally do not change, but if they do, you should make the update here and also make note in the VOST Coordination Summary.
  14. Special Instructions: Any you might have, although you can just include those in the VOST Coordination Summary. It can’t hurt to emphasize!
  15. Communication Summary: This section should describe which communication and collaboration tools are used for the deployment. E.g., Maps are mailed from PIO mailbox to VOST mailbox; Escalated search results are to be pasted into Skype after being logged on Search Results sheet; etc.
  16. Prepared by, Approved by; Date; Time are all self-explanatory.

General Availability Table

This calendar tracks team member availability for the projected duration of the incident, regardless of time zone. It is dependent on the Time Zone Lookup sheet, so do not remove that sheet from the workbook unless you do not plan to use this calendar.

  1. Before starting, be sure you have set the incident time zone in the settings for the workbook (see step 4 in How Do I Set Up the Workbook).
  2. Go to Cell B11 and change the date for the start of deployment, using the format dd/mm/yyyy.
  3. Go to Cell B13:B14 and set the Deployment Time Zone. This should be the time zone in which the EM entity or other responding agency is physically located for the incident.
  4. When a user changes the dropdown for the Time Zone Conversion (Cell B15:B16), the time for each day’s operational hours will shift to that time zone. This makes it easier for a VOST team member in another state or another country to determine their time available for the incident.
  5. Fill in your team members in the first day and copy the block down to the other days.
  6. To fill in user availability for any particular day, go to the appropriate user line and enter Y (Yes); N (No); or M (Maybe) in any hour slot. The color of cell will change to green, red, or yellow, respectively. Once the user availability is in, the team lead can easily see where there is only red and staffing is needed. In that same regard, team members with less availability who would like ot act as fill-ins can see when they are most needed.

Check In/Out sheet

This sheet’s purpose is to record hours of effort by the VOST for the IMT. It lets them know how many hours it took us to perform the work, overall, and it helps the Team Administrator estimate how many resources are needed for responding to the IMT in the future. Please try to be diligent about filling this out.

  1. Current Date/Time: At the top of the sheet, you will see the current date and time displayed for the incident location. Please use this value when checking in or out.
  2. Name: The name field is a dropdown box. If you name does not appear, please go to the Team Members sheet and insert your name into the list. When you return to the Check In/Out sheet, your name will be in the dropdown list.
  3. Date: Please use the date shown in Row 2 (Current Date/Time).
  4. Time In: Please use the time shown in Row 2 (Current Date/Time).
  5. Time Out: Please use the time shown in Row 2 (Current Date/Time).
  6. Total Time In: This is a formula and will default to zero until you have checked out. When you do so, your total time in hours and minutes will appear in this cell and will accumulate into the team’s Total FTE hours, shown in blue in the upper right of the sheet.

VOST Activity Log

The Activity Log is a place to record significant activity (as opposed to single search results). Examples of activity that might occur on a shift – a direct message from the PIO, instructing the team to change a procedure; a Gmail outage; the creation of a new template to handle something we hadn’t anticipated. Think of this as your Franklin Planner. You wouldn’t record each e-mail you answered or each file you worked on but if you had something happen at work, like your computer died, you would probably record it.

  1. Date: Please use the date shown in Row 4 (Current Date/Time).
  2. Time: Please use the time shown in Row 4 (Current Date/Time).
  3. Who: This field is a dropdown box. If you name does not appear, please go to the Team Members sheet and insert your name into the list. When you return to the Activity Log, your name will be in the dropdown list.
  4. Action: What you did or what happened that was of significance.
  5. Issue Flagged for Follow-Up By: Sometimes the Action/Event is something that needs some follow-up. Use your initials if you think this is the case. The Team Lead will assign the issue to a team member or PIO staff member.
  6. Resolution: self-explanatory, I hope. If there is a resolution, enter it here. If it is only half resolved, fill in what you know but enter a note in the next cell to the right to mark it for further follow-up.

Key Websites & Resources

This sheet serves two purposes: For the VOST team, it is a place to keep a list of sites to monitor throughout the operational period, either for intelligence or for culling social media and press posts that the PIO might want to address (see Search Results sheet). For the PIO team, it provides a more comprehensive list of resources that can be listed on the right-hand side of Inciweb to better serve the user community. They can also use the media lists for monitoring from the incident (e.g. tuning into a local radio station for situational awareness) or to identify press contacts they might not have been aware of previously.

VOST Mission Tools

  1. Skype: This is the name of the Skype Room we are using as a virtual incident base. Some teams use their Skype team rooms for operations. PNW2 VOST creates a new Skype room for each incident and then archives the room after the incident debrief has taken place.
  2. Gmail: This should list two e-mail addresses: One for the PIO – typically, [Fire Name]fireinfo@gmail.com and one for the VOST team – typically, [Fire Name]VOST@gmail.com.
  3. WordPress blog URL
  4. Twitter account
  5. Facebook account
  6. Availability docs
  7. Do not include passwords in the workbook – Passwords to social media accounts should be contained in a separate private Logistics Document.

Situational Awareness

This section contains sites/documents that team members should maintain an awareness of. Examples include:

  • Inciweb page
  • Regional GACC morning update page
  • USFS alerts for the area
  • Local weather (NWS and/or media sites)
  • Wikipedia page for affected community
  • Community Facebook page, if one exists
  • Amateur radio call sign list
  • Transportation Department link
  • Travel Bureau link
  • PNW2 INTERNAL Ustream channel

Social Media Feeds

This section contains the searches that are saved for the monitoring team to cycle through on a shift. Results from these searches should be entered on the Search Results worksheet. Often, the Team Administrator and some Team Leads fill this section in as part of set up but it may be assigned to members as task to complete.

Local News Organizations

This section is for storing local radio, print, and TV news outlets. We do this because it gives us a pulse of the local community and its sentiment toward to the fire and the IMT’s management of the incident. We are not so interested in anything that has already hit Reuters or AP news.

Incident Response (Contact Info for Responding Agencies)

This section is another one of those areas that serves the purpose of both the VOST and the PIO staff. In the case of the VOST, it provides a set of official emergency or aid entities that can be monitored throughout the operation. For the PIO staff, the list provides updated and verified links that can be used to update the Incident Cooperators section of the Inciweb page for the incident.

The fields are straightforward but if the agency is already listed on Inciweb, you should enter the word “Cooperator” in column A, to differentiate which agencies are validations of what the PIO already had and which agencies were new finds by the VOST. New finds from the VOST usually come from discovering social media posts by those agencies during monitoring.

Utilities/City Departments

This section is self-explanatory and outage notices, etc should be part of VOST monitoring during an incident.

Damage Assessment

This section is a place to collect information about damage reports discovered while monitoring the press and social media. We collect this for the PIO staff because it is not always possible for fire crews to get close enough to do structure counts and for VOAD, in the event that they can use the damage information in the recovery phase.

Examples might include:

  • Flood pictures
  • Human interest stories about lost homes or businesses
  • Structure counts that may have been reported in the press

An article title and permalink to the article should be provided.

Other SocMe People and Pages to Watch

Occasionally, as you monitor, you may run across a profile or blog that bears revisiting. These might be personal profiles on Facebook that are set to public and have interesting photos posted; professional photographer sites; or social media users who post negative commentaries on the handling of the incident, etc.

These are not monitored beyond the current incident and we would never post comments to those sites but we watch them to monitor sentiment and to give the PIO staff a heads up if there is an issue they may need to address in a community meeting.

Do not collect ANY sort of personal information about these users! We are only monitoring for posts or comments DIRECTLY related to the incident we are handling.

Search Results

The Search Results worksheet is a place to formally and quantitatively record social media or press posts that have been discovered while monitoring the feeds listed on the Key Websites & Resources sheet. We do this because we want to be able to show what pieces of information we found; what we considered important to pass along to the PIO staff; and how any issues that may have arisen were handled.

Keeping a record of these results lets us analyze the information after the incident (or even throughout the incident) and feedback from the PIO staff on what we picked up will, hopefully, help us improve our monitoring capabilities on future incidents.

Columns for the Search Results sheet are as follows:

Date

Use the current date for the incident in the time zone of the PIO. It is shown at the top of the sheets for your reference.

Time

Use the current time for the incident in the time zone of the PIO. It is shown at the top of the sheets for your reference.

Name

Use the dropdown to choose your name.

Summary

  • Provide as much pertinent info as possible.
  • If you can capture the entire comment or post text, do so.
  • If you are capturing the entry somewhat later than it was posted and there is a timestamp available for the posting, include that, as well
  • If you are capturing a post to make the PIO aware of a comment thread, do not copy the entire comment thread. Instead, enter either the pertinent comment or posting text and give the reason for the capture in the Notes field. The URL in the next field will let the TL or PIO track back the entry.

Website URL

Be sure to click all the way through to the permalink of the post, as opposed to the user profile link, in case the entry needs to be accessed later. In Facebook, you can get to the permalink by going to the post on the profile and clicking on the timestamp. Use the URL of the resulting page.

Action Requested

The TL should monitor the Search Results sheet and assign the action, once being made aware of a new entry.

This field is a dropdown that contains reasons for capturing the post.

  • Escalate: an item that requires PIO response, to be disseminated by the VOST
  • FYI: Information the PIO should be aware of but does not require a response to the VOST to disseminate. E.g. a post on a personal profile that was marked as public
  • Complaint: This is more like the FYI than the Escalate entry. It would be a complaint that the PIO needs to be aware of but also might addressed as a topic or comment in a community meeting or as a separate post on one of our social media venues but it is not a direct reply to the complainant.
  • Thanks: Record thanks for the info we provide but do not record thanks to the firefighters – the latter can be FYI to post at incident base, however.
  • Archive Only: These are items like pictures or other items that you might want to keep but don’t really need to be passed along for any reason.
  • Condolences – This field was added to version 4.0, due to a number of wildfire-related fatalities in 2013.  

The field values are validated to Cells L5:L10. Changing those items will change the dropdown values. Should you choose to add items, rather than change them, be sure to go to Cell F5 and change the Data Validation rule to include the extra values and also remember to copy that cell down to the rest of Column F, when you’re happy with the dropdown contents.

Note

Any information or further instructions should be entered here.  This could be a reason for entering the item, if not apparent, or suggestion to capture the entry in Pinterest or a note to capture a source onto the Key Websites & Resources page, if it’s too busy to do so at the time of capture.

Team Members

This sheet was formerly titled Team Zones but since the update that included Current Date and Time, the sheet only contains the names of team members who are signed on to work the current incident. The list of names populates all Name dropdowns on other sheets in the workbook.

Parking Lot

This sheet is a place to record any issues that can wait until after the incident to be addressed. For example, a new column that requires a dropdown or a function to be written.

Time Zone Lookup

This sheet is for reference and is used by formulas on the General Availability Calendar. Change this at your risk.

Getting Support for this Tool

If a formula does not work or you accidentally deleted something and need help fixing it, please contact @TheRedElm on Twitter or send an e-mail to pnw2vost@gmail.com and I will try my best to help you fix it.