by Kelly Phipps
Think of a group project you’ve been part of. (For some of you this will be a very fresh memory.) Let’s say your group of four members was assigned a problem or a topic, and each member was responsible for some aspect of the project. On some date, your group’s final product was presented to the rest of the class. The chances are good that one or more of your group members didn’t help in data collection, waited until the last minute to write the report, or was sick on presentation day. Final group project grade: C+.
Now imagine your group had twelve members, they lived in five different counties, and they only communicated by email or radio. They were also part of another team that was doing a similar but separate project, and all your separate projects tied into one bigger project. With those kinds of conditions, how much planning and coordination do you think needs to be done? (Hint: a lot.) And what do you think the odds of success are? With enough preparation and communication, those odds are very high.
Members of EMS Explorer Post 60, in cooperation with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), took part in Operation Epic Collaboration, a kind of massive group project. This exercise tested the ability of 12 regional hospitals to respond to multiple simultaneous mass-casualty incidents. At each hospital, actors played “victims” of those incidents and Emergency Departments set up overflow triage rooms, prioritizing and treating patients by severity of injury. Each hospital’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) tracked patients, their locations, and hospital resources. Radio operators provided communications when other channels failed. Periodically, pre-recorded news “updates” were played on TV.
For months before the exercise, at meetings and via email, exercise planners set up scenarios and “injects,” events that required some kind of reaction by exercise participants. Hospital team members were assigned roles, trained, and collected the resources they would need to perform their part of the group project. Calendars were coordinated, supply carts were assembled, and cables were installed. Finally, the exercise commenced, and the group demonstrated their project.
After all the “patients” had been taken care of and the exercise was officially ended, an evaluator sat down with the whole hospital team to grade the group project. Team members identified flaws in the plan and variables that might improve future projects. In the end, Charles Regional Medical Center was commended for their overall performance, teamwork, and organization, and specifically for including amateur radio in their emergency action plan. Final group project grade: A+.
For more information on Explorer Post 60, send an email to Kelly Phipps, Post Committee Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Amateur Radio, send email to Bob Davidson at email@example.com.