Last week folks in Regions 2 and 3 (see map) had the opportunity to participate in an online oil spill drill where volunteers and staff practiced signing up for
shifts and the OWCN Management Team practiced assigning people . We did this several months ago with Regions 4 and 5, and made several adjustments based off of that drill, so today we wanted to share some feedback from the Region 2/3 drill. Don’t worry Region 1, you’re next…
First, a quick description of how the drill was played. An announcement was sent out that there was a drill scenario, and we asked people to log into their profiles and sign up for shifts they wanted to come to in Field Operations or Care Operations (Primary or Field Stabilization). This was the first area that deviated from previous drills. We learned from the past drill
that people found it confusing to sign up in a general availability activity, and then be assigned to an actual shift from that general availability. Now, people are indicating exactly what they want to sign up for, and we are approving or declining that sign up.
One other interesting fact that we found was that when people had the opportunity to sign up to volunteer for multiple shifts in a single day, they did. When asked, most people said they wanted the option to sign up for longer periods of time. So our shorter shifts will never go away, but we will definitely have the option for people to sign up for more than one shift in a day if they want to.
We found that the vast majority of people found the instructions to be clear, had few technical difficulties, and overwhelmingly found this drill to be valuable, so we will continue to take your feedback, make improvements to the process that will make things easier for our responders, and then drill again! Some of the great
questions people had we want to share with everyone:
Q: You forgot to put the link to our responder page in the email/The link is missing/I don’t have the link to sign up.
A: So we actually didn’t forget – it was done on purpose! The reasoning was two parts. First, since this was a drill, we wanted to see if people were able to easily access their profiles to sign up. Ideally we want everyone to be accessing his or her profiles regularly to keep contact info up to date, and to make sure everyone is familiar with how our system works. Remember, during a spill, we won’t have time to help everyone with forgotten passwords and issues of not remembering how to log in. The second reason, is that during a spill, we can’t put this link in anything that the public might see, or we will have a rush of people going to that website, and it may crash. So if we put out a Facebook announcement that we urgently need responders to go sign up for shifts, we can’t put a link in, because the public would see it. The link will likely go out in email announcements, but again, we want to make sure everyone is familiar enough with the website that they can just go to it without prompting.
Q: We had a number of questions and comments in regards to our volunteer software, how it works, and whether the programmers can make changes.
A: The short answer is what you see is what you get! This is not a custom program, so while the programmers can make changes to the software, they don’t work directly for us. This is a program that is made for managing volunteers and is sold to organizations around the world. We use this software much differently than most organizations, because our volunteers don’t come in for regular shifts, they come in under emergency response scenarios. So we use the software in a way that it wasn’t really intended for. However, we have looked at many programs, and this was the one that gave us the most flexibility. We will always continue to look for ways to tweak how we are using the program and make it easier for you all to participate.
Q: I don’t understand how the timeclock works/why not just log hours?
A: For many of you, this was the first time you saw the timeclock. This was intended as a way for you to get to see the timeclock and know what it is, but it left some people confused. When you take a webinar, you are given the option of signing into your profile and logging hours for the time spent on that activity. During a spill, you will not log your own hours, but instead will use a timeclock. When you arrive for your shift and check in, there will be sign in stations where you will log into the timeclock, starting a running clock for your shift. When you sign out for the day, you will stop the clock, automatically logging all your hours. You won’t have to use your own device; you will use the computers we have available for check in. In our efforts to show everyone what the timeclock will look like, it seems that we confused people even more! In the future, we will use the timeclock at all in-person activities instead, in order to get practice using it, and will leave online activities to be counted via logged hours.
Q: There were several problems with people getting kicked off while giving feedback after signing out of the timeclock/“Do you wish to continue” messages kept appearing.
A: Yeah, that was annoying. There was a glitch that caused that message to appear, even if you were actively filling out feedback, and even booted some people off as they were leaving feedback. We aren’t going to attach feedback questions to the timeclock any longer to avoid this.
There were several more questions, however, this blog is getting to be on the lengthy side. Please know that we take into account everyone’s feedback and are continuing to work on ways to make this as easy as possible for people. Keep on the lookout for drills in the future for more practice, and be sure to stay active in your profile to be prepared for spill response.