Extended deployments happen, especially in times of elevated need.
When you find yourself in the field longer than planned, you’ll appreciate having prepared ahead of time. Assets will need less attention and teams will be more comfortable, efficient, and effective. You may even find that you’re a resource for other agencies and organizations who were less ready. Ultimately the people you serve will be the beneficiaries of your forward thinking.
Here are a few strategies to make drawn-out deployments go more smoothly.
This is the most important thing you can do to ensure assets function as planned when they’re called into service.
Nothing’s harder on machinery than sitting dormant. Seals dry out and eventually fail, batteries drain, tires crack or get dangerous flat spots, fluids become contaminated… The list goes on. Create a schedule and regularly inspect and operate your mechanical systems.
A side note on vehicle leveling legs… For short-term deployments, the stock feet are usually adequate. But the longer a heavy vehicle sits on a soft surface, the more the legs will tend to sink. Throw in a set of wider pads just in case.
Your comms and connectivity components should also be routinely tested. An hour-long Windows update on our home computers is, at worst, inconvenient. But in a critical response scenario, it could have real consequences. Proactively run updates. Inspect wires, connections, monitors, cameras, radios, and other gear. Know who you might need to interop with and test together.
Keep It Clean
Similar to exercise, a regular cleaning schedule will go miles toward a longer lasting, better functioning asset. And, especially in stressful situations, there’s a psychological benefit to cleanliness and order.
An exterior wash-and-wax will prolong the finish life (plus, a shiny truck is a source of pride). An undercarriage scrub will help protect against rust, and might reveal problems that were hidden by dirt and mud. For both, use care not to blast high-pressure water into sensitive areas like mechanical seals, monitor cabinets, and camera heads.
Give high-touch areas special attention when cross-contamination might be a concern. A cleaning and disinfecting regimen will help ensure door handles, vehicle control devices, work surfaces, and IT gear are safe. Never spray cleaning agents directly onto electronics, but rather onto a cloth that is used to wipe the device. Motorola has some useful guidelines: Here >>
Mind the Essentials
Depending on the specifics of the deployment, it might be necessary to keep your team and equipment self-sufficient for extended periods. This scenario dictates carrying extra fuel (generator and vehicle), water, tools, first aid, batteries, and provisions for sleeping. In small vehicles, it could be necessary to have a portable latrine and privacy tent on-hand (open to employees only).
There’s a great deal to be learned in this arena from the overland community.
And don’t underestimate the importance of creature comforts. Depending on who you ask, hot coffee might well be considered as essential as cold water. Heat-safe energy drinks, extra shade, fresh food… Keep yourself and your personnel as comfortable as possible to help alleviate the toll of high-stress times.