What Does BZ Mean?

Bravo Zulu when conveyed by flaghoist, morse code, or voice comms at the end of a mission means Well Done. It was introduced between allied forces in World War II.

This blog is a BZ to you.





D4H Transforming Situational Awareness During Disasters in New Jersey

The New Jersey EMS Task Force has transported and tracked more than 500,000 vaccine doses since it began the critical process as part of the state of New Jersey’s vaccination program. The Task Force also developed mobile vaccination programs to bring vaccines to people who could not visit traditional vaccination sites. Robin was joined live by Bucky Buchanan, State Planner at the New Jersey EMS Task Force and Nick Vanucci, Planning Specialist at the New Jersey EMS task force to learn all about how the team has gone from working behind the scenes, to supporting testing and vaccination sites, to administering vaccines and more.

Customer Background

The New Jersey EMS Task Force was formed in the wake of the September 11,2001 terrorist attacks. In the weeks and months after, EMS leaders from around New Jersey gathered to develop an organization to plan for, train for, and help coordinate a statewide response to large-scale, man-made, and natural disasters, catastrophes, and pre-planned events.

The team’s unique modular structure and asset allocation across the tri-state area ensures that plans can be put into place rapidly to respond to any disaster, orprovide any level of assistance and security to pre-planned events. The 225-person volunteer team is split into modular specialties focused on the needs of Local, County, and State Emergency Medical Services and supporting their preparedness for, response to, and recovery from disasters.

Since its formation, the NJ EMS Task Force, working hand-in-hand with county office of emergency management coordinators, the New Jersey Department of Health, and other stakeholders in law enforcement, public health, and emergency management offices,  has been critical in the response to such events as Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene, the hurricanes that hit the US Virgin Islands, wildfires, flooding in Bound Brook, a fire on the Seaside Heights boardwalk, and the crash of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River.The group has also provided EMS resources, planning, and staffing at pre-planned events such as Super Bowl XLVIII, the New Jersey Marathon, the Warped Tour concerts, the New Jersey Balloon Festival, and Bamboozle.

The Challenge

The NJ EMS Task Force was activated in March 2020 to be part of the state of New Jersey’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, members have handled such missions as providing administrative and logistics support at the mobile testing sites; deployed Western Shelter tent facilities at 20 hospitals; placed oxygen generators at various facilities; and coordinated the deployment of its medical  ambulance bus fleet to transport COVID-19 positive patients from long term care facilities and hospitals. The team also staffed regional temporary morgue sites, provided logistics for a FEMA deployment of out-of-state ambulance teams into New Jersey; worked to obtain and distribute PPE; and coordinated state EMS needs, and reported everything back to the New Jersey Department of Health.

With so many different elements to coordinate, plan, track, and record, the NJ EMS Task Force was relying on multiple unconnected solutions such as Google Documents, Excel spreadsheets, whiteboards, and emails to keep track of everything. Very shortly after the onset of COVID-19, the organization realized they’d need a better system for tracking the equipment they were receiving, the requests that were coming in, and to bring everyone onto the same page for total situational awareness.

D4H in a boardroom

The Solution

The NJ EMS Task Force selected and deployed D4H as their all-in-one software system for tracking their COVID-19 response operations. They began creating monthly digital incident action plans (IAPs) in D4H Incident Management which outlined personnel, equipment, and logistical expectations for the day and could be shared across the entire organization, with any updates syncing in real-time for all users logging in from laptops, or tablets and smartphones via the software’s companion mobile app.

D4H on two screens

Digital ICS Forms

Each IAP contained a number of digital ICS forms, which were all centrally located on D4H’s cloud-based platform such as ICS 201 for incident briefing, actions, and strategies, and ICS 204 for documenting daily tasks and requirements.

"The great part is that once we enter information in D4H, it syncs up for everyone in real-time and it’s always there to look back on."
— Bucky Buchanan, State Planner, New Jersey EMS Task Force

D4H was so flexible, that the NJ EMS Task Force could customize the forms to their exact needs and requirements. For example, they updated their digital ICS 214 form  to include start and end times for tracking hours, and they also added vehicle mileage tracking for reimbursement purposes.

"We were able to create one form to capture all of our important management data for each day. It was so easy to make tweaks as we needed in D4H."
— Bucky Buchanan, State Planner, New Jersey EMS Task Force

Customizable Status Boards

D4H on a projector

Each pickup and transfer of vaccines by the NJ EMS Task Force had a transfer number, origin facility, receiving facility, number of doses, status, type, lot number, expiration date, and transporting unit associated to it. With so much specific and important data to track and share, the NJ EMS Task Force needed an easy-to-use, highly customizable platform to manage their vaccine transfers.

They custom-built comprehensive no-code status boards in D4H Incident Management to keep an up-to-date log of information and share it with the necessary stakeholders such as a pharmacy that was receiving doses, the New Jersey Department of Health, or the CDC.

D4H Status Board

They were even able to build no-code forms to track the temperature vaccine doses were delivered at, who delivered the doses, and who received the doses. Once a delivery was completed, they utilized the e-signature functionality within D4H to approve each delivery and lock the form for records purposes.

"It’s been a godsend from the standpoint of having oversight and providing good documentation."
— Bucky Buchanan, State Planner, New Jersey EMS Task Force

While there were periods of rapid change and learning during the COVID-19 outbreak, the NJ EMS Task Force was able to adapt and overcome challenges with the help of D4H’s highly customizable emergency management software.

Incident Dashboard

Each month, the NJ EMS Task Force started a new incident channel in D4H to track their COVID-19 vaccination operations for the month. The incident dashboard gave them an easy at-a-glance overview of their progress for each month and displayed real-time counts for the number of vaccine doses that had been transferred, the number of facilities that had received vaccines, and the number of personnel that had participated in vaccine deliveries. This was all highly customized to their specific COVID-19 use case. The software is easily adapted and prepared for future responses to natural disasters, manmade catastrophes, and pre-planned events which can be run concurrently as needed.

D4H Incident Dashboard
"D4H’s support helps us achieve our mission to provide New Jersey with a highly trained, equipped, and specialized EMS resource to support operations at major incidents and pre-planned events."
— Bucky Buchanan, State Planner, New Jersey EMS Task Force

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