Ole and Lena’s Christmas Plan

Ole and Lena’s Christmas Dinner

Ole and Lena’s Christmas plans usually start with some great ideas but end up with them looking at each other with “what happened?” expressions. Recently they both joined Minnesota Responds so they could volunteer for public health emergencies. Since they have been working on their MN Responds volunteer online trainings, Ole and Lena decided to use the Incident Command System to manage Christmas. This would ensure the holiday had obtainable objectives, functional grouping of activities and avoid duplication of efforts (and hopefully not end with the dog stealing the day’s lutefisk.)

Lena took the role of the Incident Commander. She wants family and friends to gather on Christmas Day at noon on the homestead for lutefisk, lefse, krumkake and all the trimmings. Their family gift exchange is to be followed by games for the kids and plenty of recliners in the garage for the men-folk to watch the games. She set these goals the SMART way: specific, measureable, action oriented, realistic and time sensitive. And then she got on the horn and rallied the team.

First, she told Ole what was going to happen. He volunteered to be the Finance Section Chief and pay for it all if he was allowed to watch the Vikings undisturbed. Lena agreed.

Lena’s daughter Inga is the most organized of the bunch and will be the Planning Section Chief. She’ll make sure the menu is set, arrange the seating and decide the timeline for the preparations and “game day.” She’s tracking the status of the resources and anticipating future needs in her notebook…just in case the power goes out and she can’t recharge her smart phone.

Sven’s wife Holda is the best cook of the lot. She’ll serve as the Operations Section Chief and dish out assignments, appoint someone to entertain the kids and make sure the men stay in the garage. She’ll handle all the tactical details of the day to make sure the lutefisk is perfectly cooked. She’ll need to recruit some of the others (volunteers) as needed, to help.

The supplies like ingredients, decorations and games are the responsibility of Greta, Lena’s other daughter. Greta is the Logistics Section Chief, meaning she’s in charge of all the “stuff” necessary for the day. She lives in the big city so she can find everything and have it there early. She is coming home to the country the Saturday before. She may need to have all the grandkids help get things ready for the big day at the homestead.

Sven always finds the most comfortable chair to watch all the goings-on. He’s monitoring the safety of the situation as the Safety Officer.

The big day arrived and so did a few extras! The table was easily expanded with those who didn’t RSVP like they were supposed to but there’s always extra pie. Everyone knew what was going on, who was in charge of what, and the jobs to be done. Lena kept a watchful eye on her brood as they briefed her and each other throughout the day.

By the end of the day, bellies were full, left-overs divided and the presents were opened. Lena and Ole thought it was a grand day. They decided to use ICS to plan all their future family holidays!

If you are interested in learning more about Incident Command and joining MN Responds, visit MnResponds.org or call your local Public Health Office. Informed, willing volunteers are the answer to healthy, prepared communities.

(Thanks and credit for the original idea of this article to Martha Wagaman.)