What We Do, Why We Do It

Our Virtual Operations Support Team (VOST) / Virtual Operations Support Group (VOSG) completes web & social networks based missions to monitor, research, verify, amplify, filter, and disseminate social networks based communications & information platforms complimenting Incident Command and coordination organizations responding to crisis situations.

A VOST deployment, will:

  1. Activates at the request of an Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)
  2. Assesses and evaluates where and how a community is sharing information online during crisis
  3. Monitors available and public web-based communications on social networks and news organization websites to identify crisis needs, damage assessment, and community sentiment surrounding emergency events
  4. Amplifies or disseminates public information at the request of the AHJ
  5. Filters online content and develops “Listening Reports”, which include a mission overview, trend analysis, and summary of mission-based results at regular time intervals the AHJ requests
  6. Develops web-based platforms for regional response, at the request of the emergency response organization
  7. Deploys information and map updates in response to immediacy of threat risks, needs of the displaced, and as directed by AHJ.

Our VOST / VOSG deployments only focus on publicly available social network and online communications. We will not engage in hacking-based behaviors or collection of data for investigation purposes.

VOST Leadership

Our #VOST deployments are organized and managed by a seasoned and well experienced VOST/VOSG professional, Scott Astle.

During 2001/2002 Mr. Astle served as Director of Emergency & Disaster Services for the Village of Kinuso.  At which time, Scott completed both of Alberta’s provincial certifications for Disaster & Emergency Preparedness, Level 1 & 2 as Director of Disaster Services for Kinuso.

Upon completing provincial disaster & emergency preparedness certifications, Mr. Astle was selected by Alberta Emergency Management Agency, under Alberta Municipal Affairs Ministry to attend a week-long national certification in National Disaster Response & Emergency Preparedness training for the duties and responsibilities of “Emergency Site Manager” at Canadian Emergency Preparedness College in Arnprior, Ontario.

Living less than 70km away from Slave Lake, Alberta, Scott was participating in VOST deployments, before they were called VOST; and merely concerned citizens responding to calls for support and needs of those evacuated during the 2011 Slave Lake Wildfire. During this crisis event, there was the base foundation of forming VOST operations, identifying ‘gaps’ in; Access to verified, critical, timely information for the displaced and their concerned family members across Canada; Organizing and deploying spontaneous responding volunteers to address crisis needs and assistance; Assuring updated information on the disaster event developments was disseminated in a routine schedule; And, spearheading grass roots donation drives for critically needed supplies for those displaced under evacuation orders.

Since 2011 Slave Lake Wildfire event, Mr. Astle has coordinated VOST/VOSG #AdminTeams to operate VOST deployments and information channels within social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Continuing to do so for the following historically unprecedented disasters and provincial states of emergency:

  • 2013 Alberta Floods
  • 2016 Fort McMurray Wildfire
  • 2017 British Columbia Wildfires
  • 2018 British Columbia Floods
  • 2018 British Columbia Wildfires
  • 2019 Alberta Wildfires

Scott Astle’s Emergency & Preparedness Training
Disaster & Emergency Preparedness, Level 1 & 2, Alberta Municipal Affairs, 2001
Emergency Site Manager” at Canadian Emergency Preparedness College in Arnprior, Ontario; 2001
Basic First Aid with AED, 2010
ICS I-100, AEMA, June 2019
Introduction to Emergency Social Services (ESS), AEMA, June 2019
Exercise Design, AEMA, June 2019
Scribing for Emergency Management, June 2019

VOST Volunteers

Our various #VOST/#VOSG deployments have utilized information #AdminTeam(s) that range from as few as eight (8), and as many as twenty-six (26) members covering 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; Researching, verifying, and coordinating the sharing of information with the public at large through social network groups and profiles.  With many of our VOST #AdminTeam members, now well experienced, with thousands of hours of experience spanning multiple deployments; We have also developed contacts and resources as a network of networks, related to addressing gaps in emergency support services.

Our HR resources in building VOST  #AdminTeams comprises a diverse collection of life experiences and careers paths, although, given the nature of the type of work we do, there is an obvious affinity for individuals who have been trained and conditioned for managing and coping with highly stressful crisis response incidents.  Our team comprises of individuals with active or retired professional backgrounds like coast guard, military, enforcement, front line emergency response, healthcare professionals, firefighters, emergency management, animal husbandry, farming, service industries, and concerned citizens across western Canada.

We have worked within our networks to mobilize the canvassing and collection of tens of thousands of pounds of food and personal amenities donations.  We have networked with fuel suppliers, transport companies, and major corporate donors to assure these donations are delivered to readily accessible, crisis-neighbouring preexisting non-profit organizations infrastructures, such as food banks, salvation army locations, and rural fire department associations to assure donated supplies get to those that are in need.

We have worked with other volunteer based organizations to make sure ‘on-the-road’ response teams were available to help those who are traveling under mandatory evacuation orders – assuring they reach their destinations;  filling up vehicles low or empty on fuel, fixing fan belts or flat tires, and helping those too overwhelmed to continue driving, by assuring they arrive at their destination with their vehicle.  Helping others find special needs or requirements related to accommodations, camping locations, and much, much more.

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