Beyond the comprehensive capabilities of the program itself, the Rhodium staff is always engaged with my office to ensure we are maximizing our use of their system. We connect frequently on recent uses of the system, as well as upcoming planned events, and discuss sustainable positives, as well as challenges that require improvement or education with Rhodium. This results in significantly incremental improvements in our use each time, as well as beneficial updates or additions by Rhodium that make our use easier.
We have experienced small glitches in the past, such as forms duplicating data across multiple lines of input in pre-plans. This is a problem that, over the course of time and discussion with Rhodium staff, we have experienced less and less, and see no negative impact to our pre-planning.
Rhodium is an input/output-based program; you get what you put into it. Take time to meet with Rhodium staff via teleconference and learn a quality overview of the program, then spend the the time to play with the program and familiarize yourself with all the capabilities. I set up a training incident in our program, built a PowerPoint for my staff to reference, and had each of my users complete practice objectives to validate their familiarization. Now that I have five users that understand the operation of the system, we are highly effective at implementing this system when it counts. If you take the time to work with the system and understand the operations and capabilities, you will get a significant return on investment.
We have been using Rhodium for about eight months now, and have found it very useful in both pre-planning and operational applications. We are currently looking to expand our use with it and have started to explore working with other agencies regionally as well.
As with any program, it really comes down to what you put into it. I have used it for pre-planning nearly a dozen special events and activities in our city, and have used the command board interface on four or five events as well. The pre-planning component, using ICS 200-series forms, has been highly useful for us, given the number of special events that we have. I have used the pre-plans for our Christmas Parade, a Vice-Presidential Visit, several 5-10k and half marathons, festivals, and training exercises. The command board was recently used at almost full functionality for our annual Christmas Parade, allowing us to track and manage four different agencies in two different jurisdictions during our Unified Command operation. All of the reviews we have received from participating agencies have been overwhelmingly positive, leading to the push for cooperative partnerships with use of the system.
We continually work with our Rhodium rep to give feedback and improve functionality for us, and it is becoming more valuable with each use. I am currently working with our rep to have new items added to the system that will expand our capabilities with our Technical Rescue Team and special events, such as FEMA standardized marking icons for use on their mapping overlays, and incorporation of additional navigational data for use with wide area search and other similar functions.