When will I know I am deploying? Well, it depends on the operation.
If you don’t sign up for an operation, then for sure, you aren’t deploying. After signing up, you’ll know you are deploying when you receive dispatch instructions in your email, but the timing for when you receive these instructions varies. Each operation is different. Some operations are planned months in advance and have a defined scope of work, such as in mitigation operations. Other operation types have more ambiguity.
When it comes to the planning and purchase of flights, we have to ensure we don’t get too far ahead of ourselves. For example, with most response operations, if you buy flights four weeks in advance, a lot of things could change on the ground. If we end up sending volunteers anyway, it could result in a situation where the operation has more people than work to keep them busy. That’s not an efficient use of your time and our resources.
We only purchase flights as far ahead as we can reasonably predict in the operation. When an op first kicks off, especially a response op soon after a hurricane, flood, tornado, or other disasters, there is less predictability. The amount of lead time between being dispatched and expected to fly or drive to the operation is smaller. As the operation becomes more stabilized and established, we are able to predict further out.
For most national ops with flight waves, people are generally given a week’s notice from receiving dispatch and the first day of their deployment. However, it can vary depending on the nature of the operation. Rebuild operations have a consistent demand and are planned out longer term. Volunteers can plan on taking part in a rebuild operation three months in advance. Training events take less time, are more frequent than ops, and are also planned in advance.
Waiting until the last minute to purchase flights is also bad. People need time to plan their lives. Getting flights the day before you are asked to fly out is an exception and not the norm. This usually happens when an operation is initially kicking off immediately after a disaster. Don’t worry about saying no if we call and ask you to deploy the next day and drive a trailer to Florida from Dallas.
When it comes to dispatching people with flights, for response operations, Mob doesn’t commit to buying flights until we’ve actually secured flights. The reason for this is that the cost of flights varies based on the time until departure, availability on that plane, availability of other routes, and several other variable factors. Also, the flights might not work for the operation.
For example, if the only flight into the area of our operations from your home airport arrives past 2300 and the airport is an hour and a half away from the FOB, it may not be logistically feasible to fly in one person at this time. So a few days prior to the date you would deploy, we will send you a reconfirmation text message to check if you are still able to go. If you confirm, we’ll attempt to buy flights and you can be 80% sure you are going to deploy, but not guaranteed. Only after you receive an official dispatch (and flights if needed) can you be sure you are going.
Our goal is to send as many Greyshirts to the right place, at the right time in order to provide the most help and hope those impacted by disaster.