25 March 2010

YOUR COMMUNICATIONS "IMAGE" (And What it Implies about Your Capabilities)

Coast Guard SAR controllers are sometimes hesitant about assigning an unfamiliar Auxiliary boat (OPFAC) to a case. They may know very little about the operational characteristics and capabilities of the OPFAC to which they are talking. Up to date facility characteristic reports are not always readily available to those who need them the most, the duty SAR controllers.

"The training, experience, initiative
and judgment factors vary widely
among Auxiliarists"

Importantly, Coast Guard controllers have to consider other non-uniformity issues with respect to OPFAC and crews. Here we refer not to the vessels or its hardware, but to the training, experience, initiative and judgment of its skipper and crew. The Auxiliary's Boat Crew Qualification Program has gone a long way towards standardizing the training factor in the above list of personnel related concerns. But the experience, initiative and judgment factors remain highly variable among Auxiliary coxswains and crew members. This is only to be expected whenever the minimum annual requirement of a qualification is set so low.

"Like it or not, the image you present
through your comms is often the only
thing Coast Guard controllers can use
to sizeup your capabilities."

Why is that? Well, under normal circumstances, they will never see Brian Rollins' OPFAC or John Pulson's OPFAC to see that they are squared away OPFACs.
They won't get a chance to see that your crew members are sharply attired in their required uniforms and PPE, and that all members are in the same uniform.

In many cases, their entire impression on the capabilities of your vessel and crew will be made on the basis of how you sound over the radio!


Are communications form your vessel transmitted in a crisp, professional manner? Are prowords used correctly and appropriately? Are your comms brief and business like, or long-winded and imprecise? Dose the Coast Guard communicator have to interrogate your communicator to get important information? Or are you one step ahead of them, sending essential SAR data just when it's needed?

Have you ever wondered how SAR controllers decide, among multiple patrolling OPFACs, who should get a case? Ever felt that you were cheated out of a case, or otherwise overlooked, despite being closer to the scene? Certainly many factors effect these decisions. I would not suggest that the image conveyed through your communications it the SOLE determinant in such cases. BUT it IS a factor, and it IS often used to form an estimate of an OPFAC capabilities, rightly or wrongly.

"What would lead (the Coast Guard)
to conclude that your navigating, boat
handling or rescue skills are any better
than your communicating proficiency?"

If a communicator stumbles through the assuming patrol message, fail to handle Ops and Position reports correctly, shifts to wrong channels, uses prowords incorrectly or not at all, can't spell with the standard phonetic alphabet or has trouble operating the radio's functions, just how prepared do you think the Coast Guard feels your boat is? What would lead them to conclude that your navigating, boat handling or rescue skills are any better than the most simple job of proficient radio comms?

Like it or not, the image you present through your boat's communications is often the only thing Coast Guard controllers can use to size up capabilities and preparedness.

If your "COMMS" are concise and succinct, transmitted on the correct working channels, answering promptly and professionally, and otherwise handled effectively, you convey the impression of a knowledgeable SAR resource, trained and experienced to handle most anything assigned to you.

If, on the other had, your comms are long and ponderous, not to the point, initiated on the wrong channels, botched by sloppy technique or inappropriate prowords, burdened by extraneous information, or otherwise substandard, they suggest that you're really not "all together" out there, and SAR controllers may very well want to think twice before steering a case your way.

You may feel that your boat doesn't have these problems.


Why not take a minute to rate your boat's comms after examining the following list:

1. Communicators who consistently precede every transmission with their full call sign.
2. Communicators who include the "Eyewitness News Report," in their Ops & Position reports.
3. Calling the Station Pier, Sector Dock or names "other" then Station Pier.
4. Communicators who need coaching with the mic keyed up. You hear the coxswains voice in
5. Not saying correction when a mistake is made. Saying sorry is not proper radio procedure.
6. Communicators who pause multiple times in a report due to not knowing what needs to be said before key the mic.
7. Calling Auxcom, "OPSCON" or "OPSCOM"
8. Talking to the controller with a tone of voice that make them feel intrusive.

Remember we can always perform better when it comes to radio procedures. I ask that you read the Comms chapter in the BCASM man. to refresh yourself before the beginning of the patrol season.

Honor, Respect, and Devotion to duty.

22 March 2010


Shipmates, I would like to explain more detailed what AIMS is all about. I am still working with the program and find new things all the time.

What is the Auxiliary Incident Management System?

The Auxiliary Incident Management System (AIMS) is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) web-based Emergency Notification System (ENS) for Auxiliary leadership to rapidly and easily reach members for both routine and emergency communications.
Our ENS vendor, Everbridge, is the leading provider of ENS systems in the world and the platform is deployed in more than 100 countries. The platform is in use by multiple federal, state and local government agencies, including multiple DOD and DHS departments. System security has been fully vetted by the USCG, USCG Auxiliary, DOD and DHS, as well as leading worldwide financial institutes.

Accelerate Response

Communication plays a critical role before, during, and following an incident. The Auxiliary Incident Management System (AIMS) provides quick and reliable communication capabilities that rapidly and reliably disseminate critical information and instructions, improve operational effectiveness, and ensure lifesafety.

Improve response times and coordination Efforts

Streamline and accelerate member mobilization, deployment, and on-the-ground coordination with efficient and accurate outreach capabilities. One person can communicate with tens, hundreds, or thousands of people anywhere, anytime, and via any communication method, including phone (land line, mobile, and satellite), email, instant messaging, SMS text messaging, fax, BlackBerry, PDA, pager. The AIMS Emergency Notification System automatically cycles through all USCG Auxiliary Department of Response specified communication devices, reducing the time it takes to get critical messages to the right people while freeing up staff to manage other critical tasks before, during, and after an incident.

Reduce Risk During Crises

AIMS provides the critical communication infrastructure necessary for responding to both routine and emergency incidents. AIMS significantly minimizes the risk of human error with an automated notification solution that systematically delivers clear, consistent messages to recipients on all communication devices and escalates the message as required. Access AIMS from your desktop, laptop, smart device, or by calling the 24/7 Everbridge Live Operator.

Keep Members on Task

Obsolete phone trees and calling lists divert usable manpower from planning or executing tasks and ties up critical communications infrastructure. AIMS automates deployment of assets, emergency notifications, and standard information dissemination by automating manual processes thereby freeing up staff to focus on more important tasking.

Maximize communication Channels.

AIMS delivers messages across all communication platforms, cycling through communication devices until the message is delivered. AIMS provides two way communications through the polling and quota messaging functionality.

Real Time Reporting

Real-time broadcast results give message senders full visibility into which communications paths are operable and receiving messages and which are not. The robust reporting functionality allows the Chain of Leadership to quickly and easily account for member life-safety as required by the Commandant.

I hope this helps you understand what AIMS is all about. One BIG issue with AIMS is that it seems to be accepted as SPAM. If you want to see that you get an AIMS message you must accept this email to be recived in your mailbox.

17 March 2010

2010 Make Way Ramp Education Kickoff on Friday and Saturday

FL76 Shipmates - Another cross post from

I know a few of you are getting these twice (once from and once from so I'll try to only repost the most important items).

On Friday 19MAR and Saturday 20MAR we will be kicking off our 2010 Make Way Education efforts with a presence at ramps and other selected locations around the region. Thank you to all who have signed up to assist with one or both days.

We've been conducting the on-the-water Make Way mission for a number of weeks and this is a great opportunity to get more of our members involved and educate our fellow boaters before they get underway.

While this is a mission some of us have done for years it may be new to others. To help members understand the issues and to promote consistency in our message I have prepared a mission job aids. I encourage all participants to review the job aid and provide feedback based on your prior experience and what you learn over this two morning effort. Feedback on the job aid approach is also welcome - we are looking at developing these for other local topics like invasive species awareness and cold water awareness.


[This document is uploaded to Scribd - if it does not display please visit:]
To download or print the document please visit the following link: here

The materials we have are described in the job aid.

There are currently materials for Make Way in the Auxiliary office at Sector Portland. Please be aware the supply is limited and only take as many flyers as you think you will use in these two days. Please coordinate with fellow participants at your ramp to assure you are not doubling up on supplies. We are working on re-supply but have not yet received materials. Unless you know traffic will be heavy please limit what you take to 50 flyers or packets per ramp per day. If there is no supply remaining, or if you take the last of the materials, please call or email me immediately and we will work to get you what you need.

Vessel Exams:
While this is not a VE focused operation VEs are welcome and encouraged to do VEs as time and conditions permit. Please focus on maximizing the quantity and quality of contacts which carry the Make Way message. Doing VEs, particularly if someone else is passing out flyers and having brief conversations may be the most effective approach for those particular boaters.

I would appreciate feedback as to where you were, what times, the number of contacts, the number of flyers distributed and any lessons learned via your FC with a cc to me: We will be reporting the results to the Sector Commander. This is a mission which can be reported as public affairs on your 7030.

Please work in teams, this is a great opportunity to bring along a newer member. Please wear life jackets for flotation, visibility and to show responsible boating behavior. Per our standard practice life jackets are required if you will be on the dock.

The ramp work was organized by the Flotillas - please make sure your FC, VFC or designated officer knows you are going out to assure proper assignment to duty and therefore liability coverage. Should you need proper assignment to duty the Division leadership would be happy to assist by providing it via email.

Be safe out there and look to the safety of your shipmates.

Thank you for your service,

16 March 2010

Division Directory update and a video tutorial on [via]

FL76 Shipmates - here is a post I've just also posted on, V/r Daren

Many of you will be glad to know that our 2010 Member Directory has been sent to the GPO for printing. Based on the number of inquires I've received I know this is a much awaited publication. Having member information, facility information and all the general information contained in the Directory readily at hand makes us more effective as Flotillas and as a Division. A very big thank you is owed to Carol for her work on the Directory - it represents hundreds of hours of work to check the entries, make updates, manage changes and produce.

Bravo Zulu!

We do not yet have an ETA on when we'll see the 2010 edition. In the meantime much of the member contact, qualifications, and officer list information is now easily available online at:

This resource uses the same password you use to access the eDirectory and ShopAuxiliary.

I've prepared a brief introductory video tutorial that shows the basic features of

Please remember all member directory information, online or printed, is to be used for official Auxiliary purposes and should be treated with care. Just as we look to the safety of our shipmates while operating we also owe them the security of their contact information and personal details.

This post contains video content in HD - high quality playback options can be found in the player. If you cannot view the video content in this post please visit:

11 March 2010

My Name is Diane Epstein

Hello Fellow '76ers:

Since I am new to this flotilla, I thought I would introduce myself and write a brief background. I am a true Oregonian--born and raised. After graduating from Clark College in Vancouver, WA with an Associate Degree in Medical Secretary I worked for a Chiropractor for a while. Then I decided to broaden my skills and worked for several temporary agencies in the clerical field for about 2 years, then landed a job as a Data Entry Clerk for a firm downtown Portland. After seven years, I wanted something more so I went back to school and took computer classes and a Court Reporting course.

My parents had joined this group called the "Coast Guard Auxiliary" in 1987 and my mother had suggested several times that I should join too. "It would be good for you to meet other people", she said, but I said, "no, that's not for me. Too many old people" Well, I attended Auxiliary functions from time to time while my mother, Milli Schaber was Division Secretary in the early '90's. While attending the 1995 Division 7 Change of Watch I met an interesting man named Mathew Epstein, who, I found out later had crewed on my parents OPFAC several times. I asked Matt out on our first date and he proposed on my birthday in January and we were married on June 30th, 1996.

Since my new husband was really involved with the Auxiliary, I decided to join too. That turned out to be a very good thing. My first position was flotilla secretary. I was so shy then. I was so nervous when I had to call the roll and read back the minutes from the previous meeting that my voice quivered. But, gradually, I grew out of my shyness.

I attended a VE qualification course in Seattle, Wash. and received my VE qualification and under Gil Gatlin's mentorship and some others, I earned my Crew status in 1998. I served as Vice Flotilla Commander of Flotilla 72 in Milwaukie as well as FSO-PE. In 2002 I was able to attend the AUX 04 C School in Oklahoma where I learned about how to design web pages and put together a Power Point Presentation. I was hooked. I became the first CS officer for FL 72 and put together a web site and managed it for 2 years.

When FL 72 dis-established, Matt & I transferred to Flotilla 7-12 in Hillsboro, where I became the Publications Officer and developed the Windbag newsletter into an electronic color format that could be e-mailed instead of a black & white hardcopy. In 2006 I was asked to take the Division Publications staff office and produce the "Daymark 7" newsletter.

Matt & I share our home with our two cats, Fritz and Rusty. I enjoy gardening and photography. Matt & I now work part-time as school bus drivers, which allows Matt to develop his pest extermination business and gives me more time to spend doing Auxiliary activities. I have made some great friends in the Coast Guard Auxiliary and look forward to being a productive member for years to come.

By Diane Epstein

Hello Shipmates:

I have volunteered to take over the management of this "Spirit of 76" blog to continue the fine work that Daren Lewis has started. I am excited about the possibilities this can offer our Flotilla. After discussion with the leaders of our flotilla and other members, it was decided that using this blog instead of going back to publishing a newsletter would better serve our members.

I would ask that you assist me in providing information that would be appropriate to post here for our members. Stay tuned for more info in the near future.

Diane Epstein, FSO-PB FL 76