The term #VOST, meaning Virtual Operations Support Team, (sometimes confused with Volunteer Operations Support Team), was coined by Jeff Phillips, @LosRanchoseEM, Emergency Manager Coordinator for Los Ranchos in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who tweeted on March 14th 2011:
Want to set up a VOST (Virtual Operations Support Team) for #SMEM Camp at NEMA11 #proofofconcept #exercise Interested?
This was the first use in public of the VOST acronym. Two days later, on March 16th 2011, a small group of 16 strangers from all walks of life got behind the idea with a passion, became friends, and collaborated on Skype to establish VOST and the Virtual Operations Support Group (VOSG) concept as a reality. That first group was called VOST OSBOURNE.
Since starting to use social media in emergency management in late 2009, Jeff Phillips had in mind the concept of integrating “trusted agents” into emergency operations, convinced that it was possible to exercise SMEM (social media bridging emergency management) without resorting to contrived scenarios and phony posts. The tweet that went out on March 14th 2011 to invite participation established the VOST concept.
Virtual Operations Support Teams (VOST) as applied to emergency management and disaster recovery is an effort to make use of new communication technologies and social media tools so that a team of trusted agents can lend support via the internet to those on-site who may otherwise be overwhelmed by the volume of data generated during a disaster.VOS Teams (VOST) are activated to perform specific functions in support of affected organizations & jurisdictions. Each VOST has a Team Leader that reports directly to the affected organization/jursidiction. As additional VOSTs are established, a VOS Group (VOSG) may be established to coordinate the work of the VOSTs to maintain an effective span of control. The VOSG has a Group Supervisor that reports to the affected organization/jurisdiction. The VOST Leaders report to the Group Supervisor.
The original VOST Osbourne that Jeff Phillips activated for NEMA11 comprised the following individuals:
Heather Blanchard, IC
Pascal Schuback, LSC
Jeff Phillips, OSC
Joel Arnwine, Group Sup
Brian Fields, VOST1 TL
Marlita Reddy-Hjelmfelt, VOST1
Joanna Lane, VOST1
Stayce Smith, VOST1
Eric Kant, VOST2 TL
Scott Reuter, VOST2
Cheryl Bledsoe, VOST2
Scott Clemetson, VOST2
Lloyd Colston, VOST3 TL
John Owen Butler, VOST3
Keli Cain, VOST3
Since March 2011, VOST OSBOURNE has been activated for a number of exercises and incidents, but none as yet in support of Los Ranchos EM, the purpose for which this team exists and stands ready.
- NEMA11 including satellite operations at EMCampNM
- NVOAD Conference 2011
- Hurricane Irene
- ORfire/ Shadow Lake
In February 2012, Lisa Ann St. Denis, Leysia Palen, and Amanda Hughes of the University of Colorado’s Project EPIC released a research paper on team OSBOURNE’s activation to support the Oregon Shadow Lake Fire in 2011 for the National Incident Management Organization PIO, Kris Eriksen. More information here. VOST OSBOURNE was described in a guest post of February 2012 by Scott Reuter on Kim Stephens iDisaster blog here.