Operation: Midnight Train

AAR Midnight Train PDF


Operation name: Midnight Train

Duration: 11 days Dates: 01/31/2013 – 02/10/2013

Locations: Adairsville, Bartow County, GA

Executive Summary Paragraph 1: Pre-Deployment On January 30, 2013, an EF-3 tornado touched down in Bartow and Gordon counties in northeast Georgia, causing widespread destruction to the city of Adairsville and surrounding areas. Team Rubicon made contact with local area officials to determine how we could assist the community. On that day, TR issued a request for volunteers via social media, OrgAction and existing Region IV personnel. A local volunteer coordinator POC from the city was identified and contacted, a Rally Point was identified at a Home Depot in Cartersville, Ga, approximately 20 miles south of Adairsville, and assistance from the Home Depot Foundation was established. With those things determined, an OpOrder was issued shortly after midnight on January 31, 2013. Volunteers eligible for deployment were contacted via telephone and e-mail, informed of the Rally Point, and given authorization to deploy.

Paragraph 2: Deployment The scope and depth of the need for TR’s involvement became apparent very early in the Operation. The county and city authorities were not communicating with each other, and neither group was coordinating anything with the unofficial COAD that had been established to manage resources, donations and volunteers. Further, they lacked the appropriate level of training in ICS to effectively respond to the disaster. Utilizing TR’s IMAT,based on recognized ICS practices, guidelines were established to connect all government and non-governmental local and regional/state agencies and to foster an attitude and spirit of willing cooperation. Using the military training and experience of TR volunteers, over 2000 spontaneous volunteers were managed during a 10 day period, resulting in 95% of the initial debris removal, thousands of government dollars being saved, and over 400 specific assessments being completed.

Paragraph 3: Post-Deployment As part of the established planning process, the Team Rubicon IMAT began developing a transition plan within the first 2 days of arriving. This proved to be an invaluable part of the planning process as the eventual departure of Team Rubicon was viewed not as Team Rubicon abandoning those in need at their most dire hour, but rather that they had developed the capacity with the local community leaders to lead themselves, thereby empowering the community, which lessened the psychological impact of the disaster on the citizenry and made them feel not like victims but “responders”. This transition methodology was extremely successful and provided a smooth turn over of operations.


Shane Valverde USMC 7 days Dee Clancy USN 6 days Donna Weathers USN 9 days Michael Hill USA 9 days Matt Andrews USA 9 days KC Coomer USA 5 days Micah Cox USMC 4 days Jody Wetta USAF 4 days Scott Follenius USAF 4 days Mike Withers USA 3 days Rob Ulrey USA 3 days MJ Lamb Civ 1 day Britton Turner USN 2 days Anthony Crews USA 2 days Brad Madajczyk USMC 3 days Sean Blair USA 1 day Matt Fowler USN 1 day Nicholas Boucher Civ (CAP) 5 days Vince Moffitt Civ 6 days Christa Lopez Civ 6 days Brian Brown Civ 5 days Andrew Herrold Civ 5 days Jerrod Finlay Civ (CAP) 2 days Aaron Marshall Civ 4 days Brian Fishman civ/Palantir 3 days Ashkay Krishnaswamy (sp) civ/Palantir 3 days1


1 Planning 2 Communications 3 Risk Management 4 Intelligence & Information Gathering , Analysis & Production 5 Community Preparedness and Participation 6 Volunteer management 7 EOC Coordination 8 Logistics 9 Operations 10 On-Site Incident Management 11 Mission Activation 12 Media (traditional and social)

Lessons Learned & Key Actions Lessons Learned

● Events must be created and managed at the regional level for proper accountability & planning purposes ● Time invested in objective setting, information gathering, & planning is key to operational success ● Establishing a local point of contact prior to team deployment is essential ● Partnering with both the local jurisdiction having authority & other local organizations to leverage resources proved successful ● Initial communication and unified objective setting to obtain buy in from all responding agencies & organizations is critical Key Actions ● Established an ICS structure & EOC ● Established a framework and process for volunteer management ● Coordinated all efforts with both the supporting / supported organizations and jurisdictional agencies ● Acknowledged and adapted to the local community culture and was respectful of their practices & priorities that proved invaluable at gaining both trust and by in. ● At the end of each operational period conducted an analysis and review of effectiveness of TTP’s utilized and conducted detailed planning for the next days operational period resulting in the creation of an IAP which was distributed amongst all parties ● Requested and utilized the TR IMAT Planning (A)

1 TASK / CAPABILITY: Create IAP OBSERVATION: Prior to the start of each operational period a plan was developed utilizing the ICS forms to develop an IAP (Incident Action Plan) which was then utilized to brief all responders and organizational / agency representatives. This ensured that all parties were working towards a common goal and that all parties remained aware of the days efforts.

RECOMMENDATION: This has been identified as a best practice. It is recommended that the creation of an IAP integrated and adopted into the planning process by providing training to all future TR leaders in the creation of an IAP

ACTION: Identify and procure an electronic copy of all TR ICS forms with paper backups and operational planning posters Communications (D)

2 TASK / CAPABILITY: Communications OBSERVATION: Cellular phone coverage was unreliable throughout the operation due to damaged infrastructure and local topography. A resource request was sent to the State EMA office (Georgia EMA/GEMA) for a radio cache which they filled by allowing the use of the state’s IMT radio cache and hot spots.

RECOMMENDATION: Team Rubicon should research and procure redundant communications packages to be provided to regions for deployment into a disaster area which will provide for local area, satelite and intra-squad communications along with connectivity and wireless signal hot spot creation capabilities.

ACTION: Research which mobile communications systems would best suit the needs of deploying teams and purchase for each region Risk Management (A)

3 TASK / CAPABILITY: Risk Management

OBSERVATION: As part of the planning process, a complete risk analysis was conducted of both the area of operations along with the recovery activities that would be taking place. This was done by utilizing the two ICS forms 208 safety message and the 215A Safety analysis. This proved effective in the analysis as over 170 chain saw teams alone were deployed with no serious or life threatening injuries occurring.

RECOMMENDATION: Ensure that a formalized ORM program and process are identified and provided to all regional operational leaders. ACTION: Provide ICS planning materials to all regions along with ORM risk analysis cards and worksheets modeled off of the military OEM programIntelligence & Information Gathering , Analysis & Production (A)

4 TASK / CAPABILITY: Information Gathering

OBSERVATION: Prior to deploying to the area, TR HQ arranged a local point of contact to aid team and this paved for the way for the team to be effective immediately.

RECOMMENDATION: Ensure that a local point of contact is established prior to deployment by leveraging previous contacts made in the state or area during prior responses

ACTION: 1) Develop a state by state regional point of contact list for: State OEM; Volunteer Coordinator; Disaster and/or Preparedness District for area; State VAL (Voluntary Agency Liaison) roster; Previous Area Partners 2) Create Regional reference binder, with electronic copy to be stored on thumb drive

5 TASK / CAPABILITY: Intelligence Analysis and Production

OBSERVATION: As the Region VI IMAT was available for support, they also brought with them the reach back that allowed them to submit RFI’s (Requests for Information) and TO’s (Task Orders) back to their “fusion” center for support. An additional resource which proved key to the operation was the addition of Palantir staff and technology to the team. The combination of the fusion center support along with the graphical mapping capabilities and visual representation of data was critical.

RECOMMENDATION: Expand and improve the capacity of region’s to utilize Palantir software by providing formalized training on its use. Further develop the fusion center concept to allow for national support.

ACTION: 1 Ensure that each region has a cache of laptops and phones with Palantir software and trained individuals to use them 2 Further develop the “fusion center” concept within TR 3 Pre-arrange an account for production of large scale maps and or purchase plotters Community Preparedness and Participation(A)

TASK/CAPABILITY: Citizen participation (ComF 2.1)

OBSERVATION: Local community involvement and support in regards to recovery was impressive. Local faith based leaders requested community volunteers to assist in recovery efforts, and the turnout surpassed initial expectations. Incorporating community organizers into the planning process enabled volunteer leaders to utilize local knowledge and existing personal relationships during the recovery process.

RECOMMENDATION: This aspect of the mission was a success. Prior to this operation, faith based leaders have not been utilized as a resource for community involvement. They should not be overlooked as a valuable asset during a response.

ACTION: 1 Develop an SOP detailing how best to utilize the capabilities and resources of faith based organizations and leaders for future deployments in this region. 2 Develop strong MOU’s with key faith based NGO’s such as DRADT, NEICHAMA and others. Volunteer management (B) 6

TASK / CAPABILITY: Volunteer Liability protection (Res.B1e

OBSERVATION: Due to the high volume of untrained and unvetted community volunteers present during this operation, a system for receiving and maintaining liability waivers was necessary in order to protect both TR and faith based community organizers from any liability claims arising as a result of volunteer participation. These waivers were catalogued and recorded in a database maintained by the local volunteer coordination center.

RECOMMENDATION: This process was successful during this operation. In cases where TR will be responsible for large scale volunteer coordination, a simplified liability waiver should be available for use.

ACTION: Continue to utilize the developed liability waiver for use during volunteer coordination efforts by ensuring that all Operational leadership are provided with an electronic copy.

TASK/CAPABILITY: Identify volunteer opportunities (Res.B1e 1.1.7)

OBSERVATION: In order to empower the community to take charge of the situation, TR must immediately help identify and coach volunteers to step in to key roles when and where gaps exist. When TR continues to provide support in key areas without identifying local members to take over those roles, community leaders become dependent upon TR to make all decisions and formulate all plans. As SME’s in disaster response, TR took charge and led the recovery effort and the volunteer management aspect of this operation, instead of initially coaching local leaders through this process.

RECOMMENDATION: This proved to be an area for improvement. The transition process should start immediately by assigning local volunteers to serve alongside TR leadership as deputy’s or assistants.

ACTION: Develop a volunteer management SOP / SOG & VRC FOG, Develop a VRC logistics “push kit” that has all necessary items needed to establish a VRC. EOC Coordination (B)

7 TASK / CAPABILITY: EOC Coordination

OBSERVATION: Initial coordination with the EOC was limited due to miscommunication from local officials. Team Rubicon personnel were originally told that the county was managing the response through the County EOC. This proved to be not accurate. After aligning all EOC and Volunteer efforts, TR IMAT personnel were forced to retrograde out of the EOC and fully staff the COAD’s VRC EOC due to operational demands. Although this did not cause an issue, communication began to suffer due to a lack of physical presence at the EOC.

RECOMMENDATION: Ensure that all teams deployed into Type 3 and above incidents bring with them a minimum of 1 Liaison Officers.

ACTION: Recruit, Train and Develop liaison officers in each region Logistics (C)

8 TASK / CAPABILITY: Equipment management, ordering, procuring & distribution

OBSERVATION: Home Depot Foundation was contacted at the beginning of the Operation with a list of necessary equipment. When team members arrived, equipment was already being pulled from the shelves for use. Instructions were given by local Home Depot staff and HQ on how to procure more equipment if needed during the operation. Although Team Rubicon was not tasked nor did they have to manage, and or distribute supplies on a large scale, it would have proved difficult due to the limited amount of personnel available to do so.

RECOMMENDATION: The Home Depot foundation once again came through and was invaluable. However, more focus on logistical support personnel should be given to future incidents of this size and scope.

9 TASK / CAPABILITY: Resource Tracking OBSERVATION: During the incident the need to effectively track and account for resources was critical due to the large amount of SUV’s (Spontaneous Unaffiliated Volunteer) being deployed into the impacted areas. While over 2k volunteers were tracked down to the individual in the assigned areas, heavy equipment operating in their assigned areas were tracked only by the number of pieces and not specific kind and type. This caused issues during the operation as operators would call in with a fuel request and EOC staff had no idea where to send the fuel or what type of fuel was needed.

RECOMMENDATION: Tracking resources is critical to success and mus therefore be carried out to the fullest. Identifying and procuring an electronic and paper T-card system and or adopting software such as i-suite will accomplish this task. Operations (A)

10 TASK / CAPABILITY: Mission Objectives

OBSERVATION: Utilizing the ICS proved once again key to accomplishing this very touchy subject. As there were several churches, NGO’s & governmental entities involved along with key local business owners and leaders, priority and objective setting proved an extremely sensitive issue. This was addressed by including ALL supported and supporting agencies and organizations into the planning process. A color was assigned to each collective set of objectives broken down into 3 main catagories: 1. Government, 2. NGO’s, & 3. Team Rubicon This tactic proved successful as everyone felt as if there concerns and priorities were addressed.

RECOMMENDATION: Ensure that all operational personnel understand the unified command concept and the planning process in particular developing the ICS 202 Incident Objectives form.

11 TASK / CAPABILITY: Personnel Accountability

OBSERVATION: Using ICS form 211, each TR member was accounted for every day. Each member signed in and out on this form at the beginning and end of each day. Additionally all members were able to be tracked real time utilizing Palantir software and Google Latitude.

RECOMMENDATION: This is an established Best Practice. Continue use of ICS Form 211 for personnel accountability during Operations and have all TR members install and activate Google Latitude which is free and open source.

12 TASK / CAPABILITY: Field leadership

OBSERVATION: This Operation was the perfect example of Team Rubicon using the training and experience of military Veterans to conduct a large scale operation. With very little direction given from local coordinators, TR members were tasked with leading large groups of civilian volunteers, sometimes near 100 people, into the damaged area to conduct debris removal. Relying solely on their military training, TR team leaders organized their teams on the ground, completed work orders, redeployed teams, and performed constant ongoing assessments of both properties and personnel.

RECOMMENDATION: Keep doing exactly this. TR was successful because each Team Leader relied on their military training and experience, exactly as our mission states. On-Site Incident Management (A)

13 TASK / CAPABILITY: Develop process to order, track and assign incident resources & personnel (Res. B1a 1.1.1, 1.1.2)

OBSERVATION: A formalized although low tech process was developed to accomplish this task by utilizing different colored sticky note pads and dry erase pens to track all resources via a hasty incident map.

RECOMMENDATION: This proved challenging and required on the spot innovation. A permanent and redundant solution should be identified for future responses.

ACTION: Identify and procure a resource tracking system such as T-Cards which are available in both an electronic tracking software system and a paper system with cloth display rack.

14 TASK / CAPABILITY: Conduct operational planning to develop an IAP

OBSERVATION: The planning process, while time consuming throughout the first 48 hours of the response, proved to be another key to success as all objectives that were identified were accomplished and all expectations from the community leaders were exceeded. The value of briefing community leaders as to what the days objectives are and then conducting an end of ops briefing where they are shown that the day’s activities were organized and orchestrated is key to gaining buy in, trust and support.

RECOMMENDATION: Implement the planning process as TR SOP for operations to produce an IAP mapping out each operational periods focus and objectives.

ACTION: Provide all regions with an electronic copy of ICS forms and supporting educational material to be reinforced by providing training to all regional leadership and key volunteers in this process.

15 TASK / CAPABILITY: Incident Mapping

OBSERVATION: While Team Rubicon operational planners and leadership had several outlets available to them to utilize in the creation of imagery overlays and maps, the lack of available resources to produce and reproduce those maps proved problematic. The team was able to have several maps printed by the city’s GIS department which opened their office and printed the maps on a one-time basis. Software and programs utilized to create maps were (Palantir, Google Earth, R6 Fusion Center)

RECOMMENDATION: Team Rubicon must ensure that ground teams have the ability to produce and reproduce maps. The long term goal should be for Team Rubicon to acquire a plotter and high capacity laser printer / copier to be placed on the IMAT EOC trailers, a short term solution could be to develop a partnership or account with either Office Depot or Staples as they are nation wide and have the capabilities needed. ACTION: Short Term: Develop a partnership and or open an account with either Office Depot or Staples or both. Long Term: Procure a plotter and high capacity laser printer / copier Mission Activation (D)

16 TASK / CAPABILITY: Personnel tracking

OBSERVATION: TR HQ created an event in OrgAction as a national event, rather than a Region IV specific event. As a result, volunteers from every region signed up to assist, even though a specific 250 mile radius had been established. This made it difficult to easily determine how many volunteers were actually going to be responding. The TR Director of Personnel worked closely with the ASTL to resolve staffing and deployment issues and determine which volunteers in OrgAction would actually be eligible for deployment.

RECOMMENDATION: Ensure that events are created specifically for the regions activated. This will preclude volunteers from other regions signing up. ACTION: Provide training and guidance to regional personnel in the utilization of the volunteer management system currently used to activate and roster operations. Media (D)

17 TASK / CAPABILITY: Public Relations oversight

OBSERVATION: Many different media outlets were present during Operations, from local radio to newspapers, to national television stations. At the beginning of the Operation, the STL and ASTL briefed all members on key talking points, in the event they were approached by media at the morning briefing prior to operations. While media was not being solicited, it was being managed on site. During the middle of the operation, an email was sent to both the STL & ASTL from a person unknown to them which provided media instructions and guidance that was counterproductive to the situation on the ground and not in accordance with well established and documented best practices for managing on-scene media. This caused both confusion and missed opportunities to engage media out in the field.

RECOMMENDATION: Local ground level Incident Commanders and Team Leaders must be allowed to manage and engage on-scene media under the clear guidance and direction from HQ media and public relations personnel

ACTION: Create a media guidance reference pocket card that provides simple instructions for media engagement along with a more detailed Media SOP that contains boiler plate templates and pre-canned messages that operational personnel can utilize.

18 TASK / CAPABILITY: Social Media

OBSERVATION: Social media was minimal due to the lack of a designated team member to engage and push social media updates

RECOMMENDATION: As social media is our primary means of engagement with our donors and other volunteers, Teams should always have a member designated whose sole function is social media via twitter, face book, etc.

ACTION: Recruit, develop, and train Public Information Officers throughout the regions who can serve in this capacity and that will accompany the regions on every operation. These individuals must have the proper tools to perform their tasks which should include a means of connectivity, a robust and quality camera, a laptop with social media software such as tweetdeck or hootsuite etc.

TASK / CAPABILITY: Media Analysis

OBSERVATION: Upon entering the area of operations, no analysis of the area was conducted to provide operational personnel with the surrounding media outlets. Upon completion of the operation, no impact analysis was done to measure the effectiveness of media engagements.

RECOMMENDATION: Create a media SOP that calls for an immediate media outlet analysis of the area of operations and the surrounding areas and upon completion of operations provides for an impact analysis