For those aspiring or established charities and nonprofit organizations that need to upscale their organization to feasible, manageable, and working field operations, here is a great primer on how to jump from preparing to going into the field with accommodating VSAT equipment. Whether an organization is already established and currently working in the field or not, this article is designed to enhance, improve, or assist in establishing an organizational model that will ensure that the organization is protected against any liability or dangers that exist in the field.
Preparing for Field Operations
Proper preparations for field deployment ensure that all assignments are complete, accidents are avoided, and all workers operate and return home safely. The person in charge of preparation plans specific tasks and activities, and ensures acquisition of the proper equipment for the operations as well as training to use the equipment.
When preparing for the field, first consider these elements:
- Physical fitness: It helps to stay in shape to survey the geography to trek rolling hills or mountains and the like.
- Swimming: If the deployment is on a large lake, river, or ocean, swimming will increase your endurance and reduce risk of drowning, whether there are undercurrents or large waves.
- Regular Physical Examinations: Before deploying the team, each member should receive a physical examination to identify any limitations and conditions that would increase harmful risks.
- Medical Advisories: After the examinations, if there are any, conditions and limitations should be discussed with the medical professional.
- First aid procedures: The wilderness, mountains, jungles, forests, and large bodies of waters have natural risks that can cause unforeseen harmful circumstances. All team members should be trained in utilizing first aid procedures.
- Survival skills: Natural habitats away from cities and places of civilization can be deadly if members are not familiar with the environment.
- Off-road vehicles and 4-wheel drives: Vehicles suited for the desert, mud, forests, and plateaus are ideal.
- Identifying hazards: Identify hazards associated with the environment, whether open or confined spaces in which team members will be installed.
- Proper technology provided: A lot of accidents and hazards can be avoided when proper technology is provided to field teams. Consider providing teams with VOIP or SAT phones to help them communicate with basecamp and your organization from the field.
Make Adequate Plans for Field Operations
Team members and the supervisors should discuss and communicate what is expected, why it is expected, and how the desired results will be accomplished. All team members require a map that shows them where the closest medical facilities are and how to contact them in cases of injury. Distribute cellular phones with adequate coverage so they can make phone calls. Equip each team member with walkie-talkies that have decent range and can share private and open frequencies.
Creating maps that survey the land and water mitigates the chances of being lost and unprepared, but if there are any land conditions and geographical areas not included in maps beforehand, the surveyor or team member should make notes of them and advise the rest of the team. All technical manuals involving equipment and procedures as well as safety procedures should be reviewed before field deployment. Using technical equipment and telecommunications on foreign land or owned property requires permission from the government or the owners. Ensure that prior permission is obtained. Check the weather forecasts and adequately prepare for the forecast-able conditions as well as seasonal weather.
Personal Gear to Consider in Field Operations
Prepare adequate clothing suitable for the geographical conditions, seasons, and weather. Consider shoes such as hiking boots, hip boots, steel-toes, cleats, sandals, and waders. If in desert conditions, light-weight, white hats with visors are ideal. In cold weather, wool toboggans or stocking caps are suitable. When working with equipment, safety goggles, respirators, ear plugs, and work gloves are required. If team members are working near highways, near hunting grounds, or bridges, orange fluorescent vests will aid in protection against accidents. Some common items to provide team members are first aid kits, canteens, flashlights, compasses, insect repellents, sunscreen, machetes or hand axes.
VSAT stands for Very Small Aperture Terminal and is a small telecommunication device that you can transport with your organization’s travel. It is similar to cable, fiber optics, or broadband connected devices. Employees use a box that provides an interface between a desktop or laptop computer and a satellite receiver or external antenna for satellite Internet.
VSAT antennas have a limited range from connected computers, but permit at least 48 inches with data rates of 56 Kbps to 4 Mbps. They can be used for monetary transactions, radio frequency identification, managerial control, data acquisition, etc. The devices center around the needs of organizations that are on the move and for maritime communications. VSAT and satellite Internet warrant consideration when preparing for overseas travel or when traveling to other countries. Wireless repeaters contain benefits that are applicable for increasing the range for Internet connections. In the case of an accident or hazard, you can rest easy that no one in your team will get lost or injured with continual connection.