Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Alright, Let's GAR It"

I'm officially starting my trip today, leaving from my sister's house outside of Pomona, CA enroute to a friend's place in Big Sur. The bike is all loaded (and looks kinda silly if you ask me...a Nightster was never meant to be a pack horse), I've got a box of stuff that I couldn't fit into my bags to be shipped to me once I get closer, and well, it's now or never. I've got three weeks to get to Maryland.

Before nearly every evolution on KISKA and MAUI, we would always GAR it. Before Special Sea Detail, Small Boat Detail, boardings, flight ops, training and drills, pretty much anything. I always felt like we were tempting fate when we didn't do a GAR, so I was pretty judicious about skipping it.

So what is this GAR thing? I can give you a working-sailor's definition of it, though I know I've heard the background story of how it was developed during at least once TCT (Team Coordination Training) course. GAR stands for Green, Amber, Red and is used as a discussion method for risk analysis. There are seven components:

-Planning: How well is the evolution defined? Does the team know what the final objective is? Does the team know what contingencies they could face, and what their reactions should be?

-Supervision: Is there at least one person with the "big picture" of what's going on that can see that "error chain" before it gets too long? Is "Safety" that person's only responsibility, or are they multi-tasking? Are they distracted with guests, training evaluators/riders, etc?

-Crew Selection: Does the crew know what they're doing? How many are qualified at the task they are performing? Who is breaking in on what position? What's the crew's experience level?

-Crew Fitness: How well rested is everyone? Who had the mid-watch? Has the ride been smooth or rough enough to beat people up? Have the last few days been stupid busy or is everyone pretty sharp still?

-Event/Evolution Complexity: What is the length and severity of risk exposure for the evolution? Is it really risky, but a quick one; or not so risky, but an eight-and-a-half-hour escort, with five of those hours within restricted waters?

-Environment: What are the outside conditions like? Is there lots of traffic? How's visibility? Is it blazing hot, with the risk of dehydration and sunburn, or is it raining and people need their rain gear? How close is shoal water or other hazards to navigation? Is it whale season?

-Equipment: What equipment is broken or in questionable condition? Are we op-testing (operationally testing) something? How critical is that equipment to what we're doing? And don't forget to take into account the bridge's not just engineering stuff.

The way I liked to GAR was to have everyone chime in with numbers, from 1 to 10, and if there was an especially high number or concerns about any issue, we'd discuss whatever the concern was as a group. BM2 Bueno always had that "10" in equipment in his pocket if we ever needed it. The numbers are added up once the discussion is over, and based on the sum, you determine your overall risk exposure. 1-25 is in the Green (low risk); 26-48 is in the Amber (moderate risk); 49-70 is in the Red (high risk). Just because something is in the Red doesn't mean we don't do it...we just look for ways to mitigate or reduce the risk; and just because something is in the Green doesn't mean we take things for granted and don't follow procedures.

Most of KISKA's evolutions were usually low Amber, though we did have a few coming out of drydock after 5 months with a mostly new crew, or getting underway from Radio Bay with only one functional MDE for the tsunami evacuation, or entering port on one shaft with the other one locked due to a shaft vibration. We still did them, but carefully and with plenty of discussion.

A while back, I think it may have been when ADM Allen came out with the Guardian Ethos message, we were exhorted and encouraged to use GAR in our daily lives to be better shipmates on and off the job. So here's my GAR for this first day:

Planning: 5; I've looked at maps and I've got a decent idea of where I'm going, but I neglected to get anything to post on my tank to give me an easy reference for my next turn...I don't have easy access to an electronic navigation system. And I've thought about alot of different contingencies, and have tried to mitigate them as best I can. I'll be wearing my PPE (personal protective equipment=helmet, leather jacket, boots, gloves, sunglasses, sunscreen). I've op-tested most everything. I took a break-in ride down to visit a friend in Orange County. It was great to see BJ and Laura Miles (Beej is an OCS classmate), and he gave me a great recommendation for the route to Big Sur. I'll be camping at a friend's place tonight, and if I've forgotten some camping equipment, he should be able to help out. My next stop after that is in Alameda with another set of friends, and it'll be good to make sure everything is good before heading out with no certain destination for the day.

Supervision: 4; I've got someone (plenty of someones) who know when to expect me someplace. I'll post on FB when I get where I'm going. If I don't get there, my friend will call out the cavalry to start looking for me.

Crew Selection: 7; Umm, I only learned to ride a motorcycle in February. I feel like I know kinda what I'm doing, but I definitely don't have a lot of experience with it.

Crew Fitness: 4; I've not been sleeping all that well. And it's going to be a hard ride. My gawd, the suspension on that bike is not meant for touring long distances.

Event/Evolution Complexity: 7; today's ride is pretty long and I'm taking a rather circuitous route. And what's the worst that could happen? Well, it's not pretty.

Environment: 4; it may be sunny when I start out, but I was warned by my friend that it's been cold on the coast. Lots of twisty, curvy roads with plenny potholes.

Equipment: 4; the bike is in good shape, but it runs hot. And I've got all my gear on the bike now. I took it out for a quick test ride yesterday with everything on it, and I think it actually handles a little better with the extra weight. But the saddlebags ride a little high and bump the backs of my legs when I've got my feet on the ground; not intrusively so, but enough to know it's there.

If my math is right (always a point of contention), that adds up to 36, mid-Aamber. But that's ok. I've thought things through as best I can, mitigated what risks I can, and am aware of what I need to pay attention to for those things that I can't mitigate. I'd say it's an accurate reflection of my readiness.

Now I've got to get those last few things on the bike, in the bags. It always seems there are one or two things that "oh, I'll just cram that on top." But that has added up to five or six things now and I'm wondering if I actually will be able to fit it all.

One last many, many thanks to my family and friends for their support and encouragement. I know you guys are worried about me, and for that I'm really sorry to cause you anxiety. But you also are excited for me and see the grand adventure I'm on. A hui hou!


Jane said...

Thanks for explaining GAR. It will be an adventure for sure, so enjoy it all. Glad you have "El Droid" to stay in touch. Can't wait to get the next update.

CG said...

I'm not a motorcycle rider but in a previous incarnation the husband was. He describes constantly tronning to detect potential dangers because people don't see you so they do stupid stuff like pull out in front of you, or sometimes just a rock in the road can play with your balance, etc. Have fun!