30 December 2008

Probably not stupid

One of my favorite authors, Seth Godin, had a post in September entitled "Probably not stupid" in which he proposes that:
Your difficult boss, customer, prospect, voter, student... probably not stupid, probably just uninformed. There's a huge difference.

Every person makes decisions based on their worldview and the data at hand. If two people have the same worldview and the same data, they'll make the same decision, every time (unless they're stupid.)
So, there are plenty of times where a lack of information leads to a bad decision. Plenty of times where an out of sync worldview leads to an out of sync decision.
I think this is a critical distinction to remember as we work with the boating public - we need to make our educational messages compelling enough that we change thier worldview in addition to making boating safety education information available. I think the most powerful way to do this is to make the message personal, tell people what we've seen and how they can prevent themselves from getting into a dangerous situation.

Guardian video

Don't miss this great video that reviews Coast Guard missions: it is time for an Auxiliary video (we'll be working on it).

29 December 2008

January Division member training - dewatering pump demo and fueling review

The Division member training on Saturday 10 JAN 2009 will focus on two items:

1) a fueling review for all Coxswain and Coxswain candidates
2) a demonstration and exercise using the standard Coast Guard dewatering pump which is required for all crew candidates

The training starts at 0830 on the training deck at Sector Portland. The uniform is ODU.

Update 20:52: Chris R reminds me that this should read 2009 not 2008. Thank Chris.

16 December 2008

AUXCOM qualification

All members,

Here is an update on the previous article on becoming AUXCOM qualified. Below is the e-mail I received concerning this change. Sorry about the confusion.


A couple of members have requested clarification on my previous message. Here is some background that should help:Over the past couple of months, some members have asked me how to become qualified to become radio facilities. Since the details for the new TC-PQS have not been completely worked out, I requested approval from our DSO-CM to allow members to qualify to become a radio facility by studying and passing the old AUXCOM test.I received approval on 13 December and sent an e-mail outlining the approved process.Now....Our DSO-13 has rechecked with national and been turned around. We are back to square one. So per the following orders who did NOT become AUXCOM qualified before 31 August 2008 will need to go through the TC-PQS, take the test and be reviewed by a QC. The QCs have not yet been trained but our DSO-CM is working on setting up some training for some of our members and me. Members who were AUXCOM qualified before 31 August 2008 have been "grandfathered in" and are not required to re-qualify.I hope this clarifies the situation. Please advise if you have questions.

Jim Price SO-CM-7

15 December 2008

AUXCOM qualification

UPDATE: This instruction has been changed, please see this updated post 

All members,

Anyone interested in becoming AUXCOM qualified, "NOW IS THE OPPORTUNITY". Because of the delays in working out the procedures and training to implement the new Telecommunications -Personal Qualification Standards (TC-PQS), Jim Price received approval from Frank McJunkins, our DSO-CM to qualify members as AUXCOM using the old study guide and test. The study guide and sample questions can be downloaded from:

When you have finished, you can contact one of our exam proctors to take the test.

Daren Lewis has add this web site: which is a power point presentation.

Paul Ploeger

07 December 2008

Division meeting update

Since we do not have a flotilla meeting this month I want to update you on a few items from the Division meeting:

Sector Portland:
  • Commander Proctor reminds everyone to be safe during the holiday season, on duty and off.
  • Operations will continue through the winter months by using appropriate risk management practices as we seek to fill the PPE gap
  • The issue of salvage insurance is still being explored
  • Please do not use any external mass storage devices (USB keys, external hard drives, etc.) in the Sector computers
  • The training deck should be available on schedule in January
  • We need vehicles that can tow the Auxiliary Emergency Command post.
Member training:
  • There is no scheduled member training in December
  • An eight hout Team Coordination Training (TCT) class will be held on 21 FEB 2009
  • The topic for the 10 JAN 2009 class is yet to be determined
  • The details for ICS210 are still being worked out. You can substitute ICS 300 to meet the 31MAR2009 deadline for coxswains and pilots.
Vessel examination:
  • Our Division target is 2009 VEs in 2009
Public Affairs
  • We need a Sportsman's Show coordinator for February

Help wanted: Citizen's Action Network coordinator(s)

Sector Portland is looking for members to assist with the coordination of the Citizen's Action Network in the Sector Portland AOR.
About CAN:
Become a Citizen’s Action Network member and help the U.S. Coast Guard save lives and property, prevent oil spills, and protect wildlife, all from the comfort of home.
The Northwest has an extensive amount of waterways and communities to protect.  The U.S. Coast Guard needs dependable and proactive volunteers to aid in keeping our waters safe and clean.
This program allows residents living near waterways to become associated with the Coast Guard and help conduct its missions.
The Coast Guard will call on Citizen’s Action Network members to help investigate cases such as rescue missions and pollution incidents, which puts volunteers right in the heart of the action.
The only requirements for participating are having access to a phone and a marine view from your home.
F76 members contact me if you can assist with this program either as a coordinator. If you want to participate as a member of CAN visit the CAN site or send me an email

05 December 2008

Getting underway: a guide to maximizing your time on the water

I joined the Auxiliary to do maritime search and rescue. Surface operations is still my passion, a passion I share with many of you. Occasionally I hear frustration from members about not getting underway as much as we'd like. Here are my strategies for increasing surface operations participation:

Get qualified: We work very hard to include crew trainees but members who are qualified crew are more simply more useful -- they count towards the minimum crew requirements. Actively working towards qualification and getting your qualification also shows a basic level of commitment. Qualifying as a coxswain makes you even more in demand since we have many member facility owners who are not coxswains.

Keep current: Once you are qualified make sure you stay qualified by doing your annual hours, completing the required workshops, and doing your triennial QE sessions. Try to get this done well before the deadlines, there is nothing like making the operations program scramble to get a mission together so you can get your hours in or get a QE session to gain you a certain unwanted reputation.

Be humbly competent: We operate in an environment that can be stressful and where everyone must pull their weight to ensure the safety of our team and the citizens who come under our care. Your qualification and currency maintenance ensures that you are minimally competent -- this is only the first step. Effective operators are constantly learning, training and increasing competence. At the same time they also recognize that no matter how much they know there are situations which arise that challenge their capabilities. There isn't room on Auxiliary facilities for people who "know it all" -- these folks break down team coordination (TCT) and cause mishaps. A special note: if you are an experienced mariner but new to the Auxiliary be aware that there is the traditional way and the Coast Guard way - you have almost as much to unlearn as a inexperienced mariner has to learn.

Consider weekdays and short notice call outs: While a significant portion of our operations happen on weekends and holidays when recreational traffic is high we do operate 24/7. If you have a schedule that allows flexibility during the week or for emergent cases please make it known.

Contribute a facility: Owning an Auxiliary facility puts you in the driver's seat, particularly once you are a coxswain. Facilities are the precious resource which allow us to operate. If you have a facility which is a good fit for our AOR, the missions we conduct and is regularly available you and your boat will be in demand.

If you don't have a facility pull your weight: If you don't own a facility recognize that it is an expensive and labor intensive endeavor. Be willing to show up early to help get ready for patrol and then make sure everything is cleaned up at the end of the day. If you have a regular berth (a boat you go out on a lot) it's worth volunteering to do maintenance and help out when the boat is in the yard.

Participate in other Auxiliary activities: The most active surface operators are involved in other facets of the organization - we are like any other group - you need to be around to be noticed.

Help run the organization as a staff member or unit leader: Beyond participation in other missions the next step is a staff or leadership position -- get involved in planning activities and you'll know what is happening and can make a place for yourself. For surface operators the operations, communications, member training, and information services (since you enter all the mission data) staff positions are a great platform for increasing participation in surface operations.

Be assertive: We all lead busy lives and no one is responsible for getting you on the water. Get involved, ask for access to the Patrol Order Management System (POMS) so you can look up who has missions scheduled, organize a mission yourself, get on the phone and call other active surface operators.

Be friendly: Finally, we associate voluntarily, maintaining a positive attitude and being easy to get along with are critical to getting invitations to participate. Fellowship is the glue of the Auxiliary - we want to spend our time among friends.

Please feel free to add your thoughts to the comments section and let me know if you have a dissenting view -- we'll get it posted.

UPDATE: Ken Babick our division vice commander and operations officer notes:
The reality is that many owner/operators have "regular" crew that they count on each and every patrol because they can be counted on in so many ways, available-competent-trustworthy-and easy and fun to be with.  Routine OPS are just that-- routine, but its when the rubber comes off the rim, that people have to be ready and prepared to make the mission a success.