Operation: Pineapple Express

AAR Pineapple Express PDF

After-Action Report Operation Pineapple Express

–Chester/Greenville, Plumas County, CA

Prepared by: Troy Angrignon – NorCal Planning Coordinator

March 29, 2016 18:30

General Data:

Operation Number TR15002 Dates 02/20/2015 to 02/23/2015

Duration 4

Location Greenville, Plumas County

Regions Involved 9

States Involved CA

Personnel Data Total TR Volunteers 23 Total Vol. Hours 472 # Veterans 20 # First Responders 3

Operations Data:

Total Assessments 2

Total Work Orders Gathered 1

Total Work Orders Completed 1

Total Non-TR Vols. Managed 0

Total CuYd Debris Moved 120

Total Accidents/Incidents 0

Interagency Collaboration: Government • California OES Lidia Armas

NGOs & VOADs • NorCal VOAD Emily Cabral

Partners • American Red Cross Linda White • Chester Veteran’s Memorial Hall

Local Businesses • Waste Management • H&K Backhoe Services • Kopper Kettle • Lake Almanor Fitness Center • CarQuest • Crescent Towing

Individual Community Members • Sarah Ann Hurdt, • Stephanie Galvan

Summary of Events:

Anticipation and Response: A severe thunderstorm that affected Northern California from Feb 6-8, 2015 negatively impacted Plumas county in the state of California. High winds reaching up to 100 mph and other severe weather caused brush and structure fires and damaged local electric utilities. Trees fell on homes and properties, many homes were impacted and debris removal is a top priority. The local VOAD leaders communicated their need to CalOES who relayed their need to Team Rubicon.

Operations: With the support of the local OES, Fire Chief, the County Supervisor, the Chester Community Veteran’s Memorial Hall, The American Red Cross, Waste Management, and a local service provider H&K Backhoe services, and some local community members who provided lunch for all of the TR volunteers on day 2, we were able to successfully demolish a double-wide mobile home at Site ALPHA. In addition, we also conducted on-site ICS training for the 22 veterans first responders, and emergency manager volunteers who attended the operation. Finally, the team reconned Site BETA but after evaluation, it was determined to be incompatible with the mission and resources at hand.

Stabilization and Transition: The home-owners and their family were left with a clean foundation and one of the local service providers had been in the process of negotiating to salvage the remaining steel platform. Two local community members who stepped forward to provide lunch on the second day of the operation have also launched a fund-raising website to help raise funds for Billy & Viola Gibson, the home-owners in question. The site can be found at: http://www.gofundme.com/n1xi5c

Analysis: Achievements, Highlights

Notable Achievements:

• Completed the primary work order which was the demolition of the double-wide mobile home at ALPHA site.

• Completed a recon of BETA site and established that it did not fit mission and resource parameters

• Did on-site training of ICS principles, command structure, and incident management with 23 Team Rubicon members, 20 of whom are veterans. • Worked closely with members of the local community in question to complete the operation at hand.


• Lunch was provided by two very dedicated local community volunteers and it was delicious!

• Waste Management Corp. graciously donated 4 bins, totalling $2400 worth of value to this project. We could not have done this without their gracious support.

• H&K Backhoe Services graciously provided a full day worth of work at a reduced rate to assist in the final demolition. Once again, without this local support, we could not have completed the work order in the time we did.

• The American Red Cross provided cots and the Chester Veteran’s Memorial Hall provided us with lodging space for us to use as our barracks and Forward Operating Base and we appreciated their support.

• Local News covered the operation: http://plumasnews.com/index.php/13505-team-rubicon-performs-operationpineapple-express

Things that worked well / Activities to Sustain:

• This was a great opportunity for training.

• Volunteers felt proud of the work we did over the course of the operation.

• For the most part, safety was a high priority and volunteers felt that it was safe for them and others to operate.

• When conflicts happened, team mates were encouraged to discuss them and find a resolution, which they did.

• It was beneficial having our volunteers go out in the local community to connect locally and to build rapport.

• Building a complete contact list and making sure we reached out in advance of our arrival was immeasurably helpful. Those contacts provided us with other contacts, resources, and assistance which were critical to the operation success. • Having the Operational Management Toolkit templates dramatically sped up the planning paperwork.

• Using Google Map Pro was an effective tool for rapid map assembly with ad-hoc volunteers.

• Using MailChimp was a huge success and helped us meet our numbers.

Improvement Points:

1) Area       2) Problem     3)  Cause    4) Recommendation

1. IT Systems  2. Cutting over systems (Google to Box) mid-op was disruptive 3. HQ asked the mission planning team to change systems that were used for planning and move them mid-operation. This was unnecessary overhead. 4. Don’t switch systems mid-stream. All people should be on one system from start to finish – whether that is Box or Google.

1. IT Systems 2. Box is not as useful for collaboration with large numbers of users as Google 3. It is harder to collaborate with 10, 20, or 40 ad-hoc volunteers by using Box. Everybody has Google access. Almost nobody has Box accounts 4. Would recommend keeping Google Drive as the de-facto organizational standard. Unsure of the value of Box.

1. Recon 2. Level of effort estimate was inaccurate 3. Recon was not as complete as it could have been 4. Would recommend a more complete recon with more photos and input with SMEs with experience with the situation (demo in this case) who could provide a better level of effort estimate (people and machinery).

1. Transport 2. Mileage costs were high 3. 22 individuals drove up to 400 miles to the site in personally owned vehicles. 4. For operations that are long distance from high population centers, we could do more work to organize ride-sharing and/or bussing.

1. Roles 2. Role-mapping between nonoperational phase, mission planning phase and operational phase is confusing 3. In non-operational phase, we have roles titled “resources” and “membership”. In mission planning phase, we have Logistics and Resources, and then in the Operational phase we have Planning/Ops managing people and logistics.        4. More clearly communicate a clean role transfer policy as people move from non-operational to planning phase to operational phase in a way that is simple for all to understand.

1. Approval process 2. Process was too slow and required too many sign-offs for a fast-cycle Type 5 operation 3. Many tasks seemed to require HQ involvement and/or approval (securing vehicles, working with Home Depot, re-evaluation of standard load-outs, etc.) 4. As in ICS, it would be ideal if ops could be solved at the lowest possible level and authority rights be pushed to regional leadership so that they can make go/no-go decisions and authorize Type 5 operations.

1. Linkage between ISR, Warno, OpOrd and membership comms 2. We incurred needless delays in communicating the Op on Facebook and via our various channels 3. There was confusion on the comms process. (when is the warning message? On what channel(s)?) When is message 2 and on what channels? When is the final deployment call-out and on what channels?) 4. We need a simple one-pager that explains the relationship between the ISR/WARNO/OPORD process and the comms process for membership recruitment. There was a lot of confusion and disagreement that could be avoided in future.

1. Deployment call-out 2. People arrived without a clear understanding of the weather 3. While the weather forecast was delivered in the Operation Order, that information was not passed on to the volunteers in the deployment call-out           4. Ensure that all weather preparation information and forecasts are delivered along with the deployment call-outs

1. More visible command staff 2. Some volunteers were unclear on who had what positions 3. We only had one small org chart written up and the people in those roles did change over the 2 day period 4. Many suggested that it would be optimal if all command staff could be identified with hats, vests or other markers at all times so as to be more visible through out the operation.

1.Team structure and function 2. Team leaders did not know who was on their team and some members did not know who their team leader was. 3. Team assembly was casual as all members were co-located on one site. Also, we swapped out team leaders to provide more learning but this seemed to cause confusion and lack of team cohesion with some members. 4. ICS for 204s should be used no matter how small the operation is. Also, as noted elsewhere, clothing (hat, vest?) to identify Strike Team leaders would also be useful.

1. Food 2. Food was more expensive and of lower quality than necessary 3.  We did not make best use of some volunteers who have extensive food experience. 4. Assign 1-2 people to food early on who can plan, organize, and prepare meals. It is likely that this will improve quality and scheduling and lower costs.

1. Execution 2. Execution was not as efficient as it could have been 3. We did not pre-identify people with subject matter expertise in demolition. Therefore we did not have a clear (and clearly articulated) order of operation. 4. We need people with more experience in the tasks at hand to develop a more solid plan of attack in order to make efficient use of equipment and people.

1. Equipment 2. Equipment was mismatched, too low quality, and there was not enough of it for the task at hand. 3. We identified that we needed heavy equipment up front but were told that it was not possible to have any TR team operate heavy equipment. We skipped the possibility of getting an owner/operator and concluded that we had to do the demo by hand. Also, battery powered saws are not useful for large demo work. 4. If TR can not operate the heavy machinery needed, we should contract as needed and then use TR’s volunteers to augment that machinery. If we are using saws and similar equipment, they should be electric (powered by generators), not battery operated.

1. Safety 2. A couple of very minor safety areas could have been improved 3. Some volunteers were working on a structure roof without safety belts. 4. Many injuries occur from roof-top falls without safety belts. Using heavy equipment earlier or else adding safety belts would have mitigated that risk.

1. Alcohol 2. Alcohol contributed to a few minor issues on site 3. We did not clearly stipulate and articulate an alcohol / drinking policy up front. 4. In future, on all ops of all sizes, the IC should clearly articulate expectations around alcohol consumption during the course of an operation, in accordance with the existing “SOG – TR Alcohol Policy”