D4H Whiteboard

The D4H whiteboard is a great way to get information out to the members of your organization. Some might not check email, and maybe you don’t wish to “spam” by sending to all, but adding a whiteboard message gets to people who log in to D4H on a regular basis. (We used it recently to remind about our annual SCBA mask fit testing.)

Adding a message (marked important or not) is a great way to get to the top of the D4H dashboard:

When we don’t have more pressing postings to make, we’ve chosen to offer quiz questions on our whiteboard as a fun way to keep content fresh in mind, and keep our membership engaged. We (with we being Coal Creek Canyon Fire Rescue) provide response for structure fire, wildland fire, rescue (including automobile), medical (as a BLS agency), hazardous materials, and (as we learned in 2013) other incidents, such as floods. We also assist with search and rescue (having mountainous state parks in our district.) We have a lot to remember, and quizzes are a good way to keep things top of mind.

We used a spreadsheet to gather questions and a simple ruby script (run automatically daily against the D4H APIs) to post the questions and answers. The script takes the day of the year and combines that with the number of quiz questions to pick today’s quiz question and yesterday’s answer, and posts both.

 #
 #  A snippet of the script, to add a whiteboard entry...
 #
 wuri = URI('https://api.d4h.org/v2/team/whiteboard')
 areq = Net::HTTP::Post.new(wuri)
 areq['Authorization'] = 'Bearer ___________'
 
 areq.set_form_data({'text' => formatted_question, 'enddate' => question_days_ahead_formatted}, '&')
        
 ares = Net::HTTP.start(wuri.hostname, 
                   wuri.port, 
                   :use_ssl => true) {|http|
   http.request(areq)
 }

You can view the Whiteboard in D4H’s MyD4H mobile application. Additionally, here is how the Whiteboard looks in Response Utilities for D4H

Working with D4H groups

Some response teams use mailing lists to communicate with their members, and some create mailing lists per “group” (e.g. officers, leadership, etc.) within their organization, including for qualification groups; divers, drone pilots, EMTs, etc. etc.

Using groups within D4H allows you to reference members by name (their profile) and only have to manage the email address once within D4H, not once per mailing list. You can view members in a group and/or the groups a member is within. As things change (and things continually change; members retire, members get qualified and/or promoted) you can easily maintain D4H groups accordingly.

In D4H you can create as few or as many groups as you like, naming them as suits your purpose. You can create a Dive Team group, an Officers group, a per Station group, as required. You can set requirements on groups (ensuring you have a given number of such members on duty) and you can collaborate with groups. D4H allows you to message a group, sending to only those within that group.

Using groups make D4H more valuable for your organization.

Response Utilities, our mobile application for D4H allows you to quickly/easily view members within groups, and also send email and/or messages (if all members of the group have a mobile phone number registered with D4H) to all members of a group from anywhere you need. (See communications for how.)

Reviewing activities…

Response Utilities allows access to your agency’s incident and exercise information. Look at past incidents and their details, look at past training exercises (or events) and view attendance.

Were you active on the incident but your participation failed to get recorded? Did the report writer mishear details over the radio and hence misreport apparatus or important details of the response? Did you not get JPR (job performance review) credit from an exercise?

The more personnel that review past incidents – and soon after they occur – the more accurate the reports will be. That helps you, and the whole organization.

Use Response Utilities to check the time of the incident or exercise, as well as the duration. Check participation, including a quick scan of participants faces. (The current user is shown first, otherwise those with identified roles – e.g. command or instructor – come first.) check if the activity is still draft (shown as blank below) or has been published.

Communications

Response teams need to communicate to be effective as a coordinated team. Teams are usually well served during an incident with dispatch alerts to pagers / minitors, radio traffic for operational communications, and face to face AARs (after action reviews) to review the incident. Outside the incident, however, teams do less well at group communications.

Teams often use email mailing lists of manually managed text groups to communicate which work, but require additional maintenance effort to keep up to date. D4H facilitates communications with D4H collaborations within the system, and the ability to communicate to a group outside the system. These work well when one is at a computer.

Response Utilities for D4H leverages the up to date information in the D4H database to put similar capabilities in your pocket. Use Response Utilities to message individuals, message groups and/or any combination of the two.

Don’t limit your communications because you are broadcasting to too wide a group and don’t want to spam everybody. Communicate from your mobile device (using email or messaging) by sending to just the people who need to be included. Send to the new group of trainees, and copy the training officer. Send to the officers. Send to individuals. Communicate easily and precisely.

Response Utilities for D4H (iOS)

I am a volunteer firefighter in the mountains of Colorado, USA. We use D4H – Readiness & Response for managing many aspects of the department. We record incidents, exercises, events and attendance in D4H. We manage our inventory (for multiple stations, apparatus and personnel) and we maintain individual certifications / qualifications, and more, in D4H. Our members use D4H a lot.

D4H is a very powerful system with a lot of features, and its website is somewhat overwhelming on any mobile device, especially a mobile phone. Our membership needed something less powerful, an application for the tasks they perform on the go; viewing activities, setting attendance, communicating with other members, and updating off duty.

I created Response Utilities to allow our membership to interact with D4H. Response Utilities is a simple interface targeted at individual members, allowing them to view upcoming activities (and set their attendance), review past activities (incidents and more), and communicate with other members of the agency. Members who default to “on duty” (e.g. volunteers) are also able to easily set their “off duty” times.

Find out more here:

https://www.neukadye.com/mobile-applications/response-utilities/

Response-Utilities

Beta Testing – please help me improve faster…

I hate breaking apps, especially when I know they are being used in the field. A crash in the field can mean significant lost time and data. Not good! That said, as platforms continually change under the application (and their languages mature) even rebuilding an app (with no changes from me) can break it. I don’t release often enough because of the fear of breaking a production app. Beta testers help reduce that stress, and allow me to make progress. Please participate in beta testing, when you can afford:

Timestamped Field Notes iOS:

https://testflight.apple.com/join/y4BCm9Rk

Field Triangulate iOS:

https://testflight.apple.com/join/EUHgZByN

Field Triangulate Android:

https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.neukadye.triangulation

Notes Collector iOS:

https://testflight.apple.com/join/cSifs1s5

Notes Collector Android:

https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.neukadye.notescollector