A Distance Learning Course through the Appalachian Search & Rescue Conference February 2009 Edition Introduction This is the ASRC’s first attempt at a distance learning course. The slide show represents an expanded form of the slide show that would normally be used to lecture on this topic in person – however, it has to have the entire lecture written out on it, since I’m not there to give it! If you have any feedback on the course, please feel free to email it to firstname.lastname@example.org Introduction What is an Alert Officer? The Alert Officer (AO) is the first contact point between the ASRC and an external agency. The AO is responsible for the initial phases of the ASRC call-out procedures, including finding a suitable agency representative (AR) and initiating conference dispatch. Introduction What do I need to do to become an AO? Be an ASRC FTL Have completed MLSO/MSO/MSF/equivalent Have passed this course and its associated final exams (written and practical), thus earning ADC approval to become an AO. Receive a favorable simple majority vote from your group recommending you as an AO Receive a favorable simple majority vote from the ASRC BOD certifying you as an AO ASRC Call-Out Procedures 1. Somewhere in VA, MD, PA, WV, DE, OH, ROW, a person goes missing. Local agencies respond to the initial call, determine they need SAR support and summon the ASRC. 2. A page goes across our primary alert system, hopefully with a 100- code, but not always, requesting the ASRC. 3. An Alert Officer responds to this initial page – that’s (going to be) you! ASRC Call-Out Procedures 4. During the initial phone call, the AO collects information from the caller about the search, and then seeks out an IC or other Agency Representative (AR) to support the mission 5. While the AR is being found, the AO also begins seeking out a conference dispatch officer (CDO) to take over dispatch. 6. Once the AR has been found and an appropriate call out level determined, the CDO activates all appropriate GDOs and the call-out continues. Responding to an Alert Call-Back Before calling back, send out a “101” page so that none of the other AOs try to call too. The initial “page” will contain a contact number for the agency requesting ASRC, call this number and introduce yourself as, “Hi, my name is ____, I’m calling from Appalachian Search and Rescue.” Do not abbreviate ASRC! If necessary, prompt the person on the other end of the line for some quick information to make sure the mission is one we will actually respond to Responding to an Alert Missions we will Missions we will respond to: NOT respond to: Missing Persons Missing pets Downed Aircraft Apprehension of Disaster Responses dangerous suspects Swift-water rescue Missions not issued (shore tasks only) by a valid RA Cave rescue (above Pretty much anything ground tasks only) not on the left side of this slide. Responding to an Alert Once you are sure that this is a mission ASRC can respond to, you need the following Minimum Information: Name, title, and contact information for the Responsible Agent (RA) Age and sex of the subject Location/Weather/Terrain How long has the person been missing? Is the subject equipped for the outdoors (knowledge, experience, equipment)? Pertinent medical/social history Steps taken thus far Other resources on scene, responding, requested ASRC response requested? What kind of response? When? Directions and phone number for base Mission/Reference number (if applicable – VDEM, some others) Responding to an Alert That seems like a lot of information – how do I remember it all? First, just use common sense. By now you’re pretty experienced in SAR – what would you want to know before committing to a search? Second, two great resources exist to remind you – the first page of the conference dispatch log, along with the information requested for starting up a mission on www.asrc.net. Responding to an Alert What if the caller does not have all the information I want? This happens a lot, especially with secondary agencies like VDEM (where the actual RA has contacted VDEM to request resources, and then VDEM has contacted ASRC). Get everything you can, at a minimum the location of the mission, subject details, and contact information for the RA so that you or the AR can contact the RA and get the rest of the info. Responding to the Alert What if the caller is the actual RA and has questions for me? This is why we require you to take MLSO! Give your best advice possible about early search tactics (confinement tasks, hasty tasks, preserving the PLS/LKP). Recommend TYPES of resources (Dogs, signcutters), but do not recommend specific other agencies (VASARDA or SARTI). Depending on urgency vs distance our personnel will need to travel, is air travel appropriate? Can the RA arrange for it? Responding to an Alert VDEM VDEM missions ALL have a mission number, and this number is MANDATORY. Without this number, ASRC personnel injured while responding to the mission cannot access state worker’s compensation benefits. Additionally, anytime Virginia based ASRC resources are responding outside of Virginia, the ASRC must advise VDEM of this fact, and again when the mission ends. Transition to Dispatch Now that you have the mission information, you need to find an AR – hopefully an IC Do this by sending out a 102 page If no IC responds quickly (within 10 mins of you receiving the page you just sent), use the ASRC group rosters to begin directly calling ICs, especially those ICs who live near the mission. Find a CDO Do this by sending out a 104 page Initiating Dispatch Operations Starting a new mission on the website If you haven’t already done so, go to www.asrc.net , log in, go to the “Alert/Dispatch” tab (big red letters), and click the link that says “Add New Mission.” Enter all available information into the form. See now why I said this is a great cheat sheet for the minimum information you should get from the person who called us? YOU, as the AO, must do this – CDOs cannot. Initiating Dispatch Operations If you do not get an immediate response to your 104 page, you probably should at least start the beginnings of Conference dispatch. To do this, start a dispatch log! These are also available on www.asrc.net under alert/dispatch. They are also a fabulous “cheat sheet” for the initial alert information you need. If you want more information on dispatch logging, please take the CDO course. For now, just try to keep a record of everyone you talk to and every page you send, including approximate times. Initiating Dispatch Operations Finding a CDO – the longer version If no CDO responds to your initial 104 page, you have several options, not the least of which is keeping dispatch yourself. Some groups’ rosters indicate those members who are certified as CDOs, you can try directly calling those individuals. Send emails from the email@example.com email address to the ASRC secondary alert system Contact the ADC to request assistance Start cold-calling even those members of the ASRC not identified as CDOs and asking for their help. Transitioning Dispatch Once you have someone who is willing to act as CDO, you should provide a transition report including: Vital mission info (location, subject details) Current status of finding an IC/AR ACA activated (if any) Status of dispatch log You should be prepared to email the individual with any logs you have generated, and to continue receiving phone calls until the new CDO sends the “105” page, announcing the change So what now? Go back to your normal life Go search! Whatever you want to do, once dispatch has been accepted by a CDO and the 105 page goes out, you have completed your duty. In an ideal world, this entire process should last less than 30 minutes. In the real world, it honestly may last for hours. Technical Details How to send a page The easiest/most reliable way to send a page is from the ASRC gmail account, firstname.lastname@example.org. Password is “thatothersmaylive.” Use this account to email email@example.com to send pages to all personnel. The secondary alert system, asrc- firstname.lastname@example.org will send emails to all personnel. Technical Details ASRC Pager Codes With the new text message system, these are falling into disuse, but they are likely to become even more important in coming years, as means of directing pages through filters to the appropriate recipients – IC requests to ICs only, CDO requests to CDOs only, etc. As an AO, you should know all of the ASRC pager codes. Technical Details ASRC Pager Codes 333: Full Callout 0xx: Individual or group PIN 441 – Status 1 Find 000: Disregard previous page 442 – Status 2 Find 100: AO call this phone number 443 – Status 3 Find 101: Previous page handled (by PIN) 444 – All teams en route turn around 102: Avail IC call # and call dispatch 103: Avail ACA call # 445 – Mission suspended 104: Avail CDO call # 551 – Base, call this # 105: new CDO # 552 – Dispatch, call this # 106: Dispatch Supervisor call # 553 – Teams Enroute call this # 111: Notification of incident – mission 554 – GDOs, call ASRC Dispatch in ASRC response area, ASRC not 888 – Dispatch has closed responding within the next 24 hrs 999 – Disaster Response (ACA 123: Pager test approval required) 222: Alert – mission in ASRC response area, ASRC responding within 24 hrs. 331: Overhead Team Request (IC + staff) 332: Limited Callout (as defined by IC/AR/ACA) Technical Details Page Format Again, this is less vital with the availability of alpha- numeric text messages, but… M – CCC – XXX-YYY- ZZZZ – PPP – M M = Mission count (only used if multiple simultaneous missions) CCC = Pager code XXX-YYY-ZZZZ= 10 digit phone # PPP = PIN of the individual sending the page. If you do not have an ASRC level PIN, simply repeat the pager code. If you are simply sending a 101 “Responding” page, all you need to send is “101-PPP” with your PIN. Technical Details IC Typing and ACAs The ASRC types our ICs according to the types of missions they are qualified to lead. Type III – Simple, single resource missions Type II – Multiple resource missions (most ASRC missions are type II) Type I – Large, complicated missions involving multiple divisions, multiple jurisdictions, and 100+ personnel ACAs (Area Command Authority) are very senior ICs who are approved to speak on behalf of the ASRC on certain subjects (generally the things already mentioned in this lecture as reasons to call an ACA) What if? I can’t find an IC If no IC is available, page 103 to request an ACA. As a hint, you should have already spoken to all of the ACAs while you were looking for ICs! Appraise the ACA of the situation and seek approval for a non-IC AR. Send another page seeking IS, then FTLs to serve as AR on the mission. Once one is found, get him/her in touch with the ACA to discuss details of responding. Technically, you must also get an ACA to approve if the only IC you can find is an IC-III, and the mission is Type II (has more than one resource type on scene). What if? I can’t find a CDO? If after direct calling every known CDO you cannot find one to take over, contact any/all of the GDOs who have opened their group dispatches and ask them if they can/will accept conference dispatch. Failing that, contact the ADC, who will make the determination of the next step (it will involve contacting the Ops officer and/or chair and deciding whether the ASRC is going to attempt to respond to this mission or not). What If? I’m not comfortable that the person who paged us is an acceptable RA? Collect as many details as possible and promise to call the individual back once you have determined how many resources can respond – do NOT promise resources! Contact the following in this order: an ACA, ASRC Ops Officer, ASRC Chair to discuss the problem. Once a determination is made about our response, DO call the individual back, even if it is to say “We currently have nothing available.” What If? I don’t have immediate access to a computer? You won’t be able to even send the 101 page, so you probably shouldn’t try to be AO on this mission. If no page comes out within a reasonable amount of time, or if the RA pages a second time, contact someone else who DOES have access to a computer, get them to send a 101 page (including the explanation that you do not have computer access and will need IMMEDIATE CDO relief), take down the alert information using pen/paper, and try to find a CDO as quickly as possible. What if? This is our second, third, or even fourth simultaneous mission? Again, send a 103 page to activate an ACA. The ACA will make decisions regarding allocation of ASRC resources to different missions, ensure these decisions get relayed to the CDO, who will ensure they are implemented. We NEVER decline missions solely on the basis of the # of other missions currently being served. What if this new mission was right in someone’s backyard, meaning they could put in a task or two when they previously could not? What if? The list of what-ifs can go on forever. Use your best judgment about what to do – part of the reason for requiring that AOs hold FTL at a minimum is that FTLs are assumed to have passed a certain minimum standard of reasonable judgment in order to earn the certificate. If you really don’t know what to do, CALL SOMEONE AND ASK – the ADC, an ACA, another AO with more experience, anyone. Questions? Since this is a distance learning class, I can’t answer your questions in person. Please feel free to email any questions you have to email@example.com. They will be answered as soon as possible, likely in under 24 hours. What now? Download and complete the worksheets titled “Alert Officer Homework.” Email your completed homework to firstname.lastname@example.org. It will be returned to you ASAP with corrections. If you pass the homework assignment (75% or better), you will be sent the Final Exam, which you must complete on your own without using notes.
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