Analysis of Operation Helping Hands by warrent

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Running head: Analysis of Operation Helping Hands




                           Analysis of Operation Helping Hands

                                 Catherine M. Reynolds
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                               Analysis of Operation Helping Hands




                II. Operation Helping Hands – Camp Edwards 9/5/2005-10/21/05

Overview of Operation Helping Hands

       The vision for Operation Helping Hands was clear: ―The Commonwealth of

Massachusetts has rallied to partner with over 200 survivors of Hurricane Katrina, evacuated to

our state, to help them to begin to recover from one of the worst natural disasters in the history of

the country‖ (www.mass.gov/operationhelpinghand.)

       The mission/purpose of Operation Helping Hands was to provide all the resources

necessary to assist survivors from the moment they set foot in Massachusetts until the time they

return home or settle in a new community.

       The plan included state, military, federal, and social service agency leaders (known

hereafter as ―Agencies‖) and volunteers. The space and capabilities plan for the operation

included a hangar through which evacuees would be processed, barracks, cafeteria, parking area,

and Disaster Recovery Center.

Analysis –the implementation


       What worked was securing appropriate space, contacting key agencies, and assigning

responsibilities. A detailed logistics plan was developed and distributed to top leadership. Camp

Edwards leaders did a good job of addressing the ―why‖ of the mission, had a good strategy, and
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service focus. In the initial phase of the mission they did a good job of managing the ―how‖, and

tried to address accountability although the parameters were far too rigid for a crisis.

           What did not work was that there was not a designated, authorized person to coordinate

with all of the Agencies. Each Agency had responsibility for its own specific function and did

not have authorization to handle any problem outside of its area of responsibility. In addition,

not all key agencies/volunteers were involved in initial planning meetings and these were the

essential front line agencies charged with coordinating evacuee services. That was a major

failure.

Recommendations

           Considering every possible contingency before and during a crisis is virtually impossible.

But there was a missed opportunity to set the proper stage. I believe that those of us at Camp

Edwards did the best we could considering we were in uncharted territory. Following are my

most critical recommendations for improvement:

                 One executive leader with an understanding of the entire operation rather than

                  each agency team reporting only to its leader

                 Involve both planning staff and front line workers in planning process.

                 Better coordination between agencies and clear understanding of responsibilities

                 Set up more Registry of Motor Vehicle machines for photo IDs. Processing took

                  eight hours with two machines.

                  Set up Medical/Dental Clinic and Mental Health Services in trailers in parking lot

                  at start of operation. This did not occur until week three.
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             Create shared database that all agencies can access. The database should contain

              operations information, guest names, location, phone numbers, exit date, and

              destination. Password protect medical and mental health files.

             Create and distribute daily updated lists of staffing schedules and contact

              information and include phone numbers of agency leaders to contact in an

              emergency.

             Agency leaders take responsibility for communicating updates to their staff

             Empower workers, volunteers, and guests to communicate up to operation

              leadership and provide efficient process for problem resolution.

             Empower workers to make decisions rather than requiring even simple decisions

              to go up the chain of command.

             Provide training/orientation for all new workers/volunteers. Email or mail an

              Operation Helping Hands information packet to them before they arrive.

             Accept only workers/volunteers who can work a minimum of 3-5 days to ensure

              consistency. Have one experienced worker on with new workers at all times.

             Change ―Guest Services‖ to ―Guest and Worker Information Center‖ and ensure

              that this center has all current information related to operation.

             Include all peripheral agencies such as National Guard, Security, State Police,

              etc., in all updates.

             Designate troubleshooter from each agency to coordinate with lead troubleshooter

              to resolve problems.

Additional Recommendations for Improvement
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Management

     One executive leader with an understanding of the entire operation rather than

      each agency team reporting only to its leader

     Involve both planning staff and front line workers in planning process

     Better coordination between agencies and clear understanding of responsibilities

     Create shared database that all agencies can access. The database should contain

      operations information, guest names, location, phone numbers, exit date, and

      destination. Password protect medical and mental health files.

     Change ―Guest Services‖ to ―Guest and Worker Information Center‖ and ensure

      that this center has all current information related to operation.

     Include all peripheral agencies such as National Guard, Security, State Police,

      etc., in all updates.

     Designate troubleshooter from each agency to coordinate with lead troubleshooter

      to resolve problems.

     Create and distribute updated lists of staffing schedules and contact information

      and include phone numbers of agency leaders to contact in an emergency.

     Agency leaders take responsibility for communicating updates to their staff

     Empower workers, volunteers, and guests to communicate up to operation

      leadership and provide efficient process for problem resolution (feedback)

     Type and distribute twice daily meeting minutes to all workers

     Create ―War Room‖ or ―War Wall‖ to post non-confidential updates

     Distribute updated agency contacts and phone numbers daily including daily

      staffing list
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      Empower workers to make decisions rather than requiring even simple decisions

       to go up the chain of command

      One agency should take charge of guest transportation. Initially no one was in

       charge of transportation, and then Mass Maritime and individual workers

       volunteered to drive guests, along with three different bus companies. No one

       person was in charge of transportation and none communicated with the others,

       which led to much confusion.

      Set up dorm meetings day one to empower guests to create their own ―house

       rules.‖ I recommended this to housing leader and it was implemented in week

       two.

      Inform parents of known sexual offenders to be vigilant and not to leave their

       children alone.

Efficiency

      Procure and place computers, printers, fax machines, file cabinets, office supplies,

       trash bags, towels in hanger in initial set up. Enlist individuals to ensure that

       every station has what is needed prior to evacuees arrival.

      Set up more Registry of Motor Vehicle machines for photo IDs. Processing took

       eight hours with two machines.

      Obtain enough staff to set up agency service stations for immediate start-up in

       central location. Originally, agencies were set up in the cafeteria, and then some

       of them moved to the Disaster Recovery Building that was accessible only by

       shuttle bus, and then moved again, some to the cafeteria, some to a dorm, and
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    others to trailers in the parking lot. Strongly recommend setting up trailers in

    parking lot or common area to house all agencies for easier access for guests.

   Set up Medical/Dental Clinic and Mental Health Services in trailers in parking lot

    at start of operation. This did not occur until week three.

   Timely set up of clothing distribution center in mobile unit or dorm day one. The

    distribution center was in a building accessible only by shuttle bus, and was not

    set up until week 2 of the operation.

   Devise better system to control theft of guests’ personal items by other guests.

    One option might be a lock box for valuables housed in the Sheriff’s office. A

    number of guests had jewelry and cash stolen from their dorms.

   Ensure that all agencies keep regular hours and that guests know the location of

    agency, and hours of operation.

   Maintain regular shuttle bus and clinic schedules and communicate any changes

    to all workers and guests on a timely basis.

   Set up voucher system for distribution of coats, boots, shoes, and blankets. Some

    guests hoarded much-needed items and then sold them to other guests or sold

    them on the street.

   Stockpile supplies such as clothing, shoes, personal care items, blankets, water,

    and nonperishable food in mobile trailers or warehouse. Have ability to mobilize

    and move needed supplies into a disaster area within hours. Use computerized

    voucher system for distribution

   Provide training/orientation for all new workers/volunteers. Email or mail an

    Operation Helping Hands information packet to them before they arrive.
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            Accept only workers/volunteers who can work a minimum of 3-5 days to ensure

             consistency. Have one experienced worker on with new workers at all times.

            Distribute list of agency contacts so that guests can contact appropriate agencies

             themselves.

            Ensure that all guests receive cell phones upon arrival.

      Convenience

            Install showers with privacy curtains and have soap and towel supplies prior to

             evacuees arrival

            Secure enough portable toilets

            Place outdoor ashtrays

            Set up water stations to reduce time spent hand delivering water to workers and

             guests

            Set up space inside hangar for shoe distribution. Many guests required shoes and

             SA workers had to go into a truck with a flashlight to find shoes for guests.

            Install smoke detectors in all dorms before guests arrive

            Place trash barrels and dumpsters throughout dorms and common areas before

             guests arrive

            Set up separate dorm for disruptive guests

            Contract with moving company or UPS to ship guests’ personal items to new

             destination.



Leadership Competencies

      Things leaders must do
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       Leader-Managers must ask Why are we here (Mission)? What are we doing (Goals)?

                                                Conclusion

       Crisis leaders need to focus on the big three—Command, Control, and Communication.

Shackelton was extraordinary in all three areas. Given the ―silo thinking‖ of leaders at OHH, I

recommend future focus on 1) Command—the right agencies/people in the right jobs, 2)

Control—give leaders decision-making authority, and 3) Communication—foster top down,

bottom up, and horizontal communication system that includes mechanisms for feedback.

Extraordinary crisis leaders are adaptable and flexible.

								
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