The Deployment Process

evought's picture

In an emergency deployment, the first step (unless other instructions are given) is to load your gear (personal kit and any specialty gear needed for your role or which you have arranged to provide) and proceed to the Staging Area. At the staging area, equipment and personnel are unloaded (large equipment inventoried in place), checked in, and sorted for their destinations. Staff officers will confer with authorities, determine where we are ultimately needed, and issue orders for actual deployment. 
A "staging area" is the place where emergency personnel and resources are gathered and organized for deployment. Our primary staging area, unless other arrangements are made, is the Spirit of '76 Park in Mount Vernon on North Main (Map). There is a parking lot available which is not needed for other emergency needs, space to pitch tents if required for long-term operation, it is close to the Justice Center, EOC, and Sheriff's Office, and there is little nearby to fall on it in a weather emergency.
It must be kept in mind that, under emergency conditions, we may not know the conditions of any site or routes of travel, even if we have used them before. Roads may be blocked by debris, flooding, refugee traffic, or other obstacles. The site itself may have sustained damage or facilities may not be functional. Other organizations may be operating in our assigned area.
As soon as we know where we need to deploy, an Advance Team is assembled and an Objective Rally Point (ORP) is identified. The Advance Team is sent out ahead of everyone else to scout out the route of travel, the ORP, and the deployment site, examine the proposed deployment site, make contact with any local authorities or personnel on site, establish communications with the staging area, and identify any possible problems, particularly threats to safety, available or needed resources, communicating this back to the main body as quickly possible. The main body proceeds to the ORP and waits there. The ORP provides time for the Security Team to do its job, for an alternate site to be identified if needed, and for preliminary clearing to be done, but it also ensures that the deployment site is not clogged by incoming traffic as the site is prepared. Personnel and vehicles are sent forward from the ORP as the site is readied for whatever they carry.
The types of deployment sites we will use may vary greatly, from pitching camp in a field which must first be cleared of storm debris to operating out of another organization's shelter (e.g. a Red Cross-operated shelter). We may have utilities available or may be expected to provide for ourselves. We may have one or more worksites for relief efforts some distance from the camp or shelter where we will be taking meals and sleeping. Careful organization at the staging area and coordination with the Advance Team is essential to not make the deployment itself a confused disaster.
If we are deploying to a worksite and a separate camp, then the Advance Team (or two separate teams) must scout each site/route and ORPs will be identified for each. Typically, the majority of personnel with their Go-Bags and required field equipment shall be deployed to the worksite(s) and then a team will be dispatched to set up the camp or shelter area and establish a field headquarters. Equipment left at the staging area must be secured and protected in some fashion or sent back.


evought's picture

Staging area communications

We tested our Midland FRS/GMRS handsets during an exercise today from the Health Department to the LC EOC in FRS mode (low power) and could not get signal to or from the EOC (with either the GXT-1000 or Basecamp radios). They may work in high power in GMRS operation, but I was the only GMRS licensee present. This means that, in all likelihood, we will not be able to use them in FRS mode to go from the Spirit of '76 staging area to the Sheriff's Office or EOC in the Justice Center basement.
This leaves us with a few considerations to be handled in order:

  1. we need more GMRS licensees to be able to operate the handsets at full power.
  2. we may need GMRS-only radios to operate over this area; radios like the GXT-1000/5000 which support in FRS mode may NOT have detachable or higher gain antennas. GMRS-only radios (such as most programmable UHF H/Ts) will lose the ability to monitor citizens using FRS, but will have better reception.
  3. Failing that, we may have to move to using 2m to operate between the staging area and Sheriff's Office/EOC. The EOC has a 2m radio, we will be operating a 2m radio at the staging area anyway, and a 2m H/T will allow us to communicate with personnel in meetings or transit. (HAM 70cm has performance very similar to business-grade GMRS radios, so if GMRS does not work effectively (even with better radios), 70cm will likely be no better.)