Tips & Stories

How to Use Evernote to Create a Disaster Relief Plan

Posted by Daniel Ogren on 04 Oct 2012

Posted by Daniel Ogren on 04 Oct 2012

  • Name: Captain Daniel Ogren
  • Location: Potomac, Maryland
  • Profession: Captain at Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services


Daniel Ogren is a Captain at Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services in Potomac, Maryland. His primary job is working for the fire department; however, he also heads up response and disaster management for his unit. On the side, he runs his own photography business. Daniel uses Evernote for everything from organizing procedures for disaster response to running his photography business.

I use Evernote, Everywhere

  • Windows
  • Android Phone
  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Web Clipper

I use Evernote for…Coordinating and Planning a Disaster Relief Effort

I use Evernote every day, both in my personal and professional life. I’m trying to go completely paperless, so everything from tax documents to receipts gets scanned with my Fujitsu ScanSnap and gets sent to my Evernote account. Evernote has also proven to be hugely helpful for my work in disaster response.

I’m active in coordinating local disaster response efforts, and am also a member of the FEMA Task Force. I first started using Evernote for disaster response back when Hurricane Irene descended upon us. As the person in charge of safety for our local task force, I’m responsible for a lot of planning and management. I work with structural engineers and hazardous material folks to make sure that a disaster scene is promptly and safely overseen. From the moment that something happens (an earthquake, hurricane, terrorist attack) I begin gathering information to get an idea of the scope of our job. I use Evernote to capture and manage all of this information.

Creating a Disaster Relief Plan in Evernote

Whenever a disaster occurs, I usually set up a new notebook with the name of that event. From there, I can use a combination of Notebook Stacks and tags to keep my research, communications, and reference documents organized and easy to find.

I use the Evernote Web Clipper to clip weather reports, research information on chemicals and hazardous materials, and begin contacting people in the service. Evernote is my central hub of information: I clip all my research to it, store our standard operating procedures in a Shared Notebook, and forward important emails and correspondences to a notebook for that specific event. All of this information is available on my iPhone and iPad, and I can even store it offline and not have to worry about an Internet connection [Offline Notebooks are a Premium-only feature].

Creating separate notebooks, both private and shared, for different events as well as for general topics makes it easy to distribute information quickly to the right people. For example, I can selectively share notebooks with volunteers who are working on a certain event, or give access to standard operating procedures to everyone in my organization. This saves me an enormous amount of time and keeps me focused on the task at hand.

Evernote for News Monitoring

Since my job requires me to be on top of what’s happening in the world, I use Evernote to help me manage an inflow of information. I subscribe to federal government sites like the National Hurricane center, and follow a number of news-oriented Twitter feeds, all of which are configured to automatically send information straight to my Evernote account.

Evernote as a Reference Hub

For general information on urban search and rescue, as well as documents, manuals, PDFs, and training documents, I create separate notebooks that serve as an electronic encyclopedia that I can access from anywhere. Many of these documents can be referred to anytime, and some may come in handy someday! For example, I once had to do research on a UH60 Blackhawk helicopter. I wasn’t familiar with this aircraft, so ended up doing a bunch of research online, clipping specifications, pictures and operating procedures to my general notebook. It was useful for the Hurricane Irene effort and now lives in my Evernote account forever.

Before Evernote, I was collecting information from different places; I didn’t have a central, easy-to-access and searchable place for all of this information. The longer I use Evernote, the better it works for me. Every time I deal with a new disaster it takes me less and less time to hit the ground running.


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6 Comments RSS

  • ArtWench

    Awesome! The one question I have is how do you prepare for significant loss of power? That is the one thing that scares me about my dependance on my electronic devices!

    • Daniel Ogren

      Most of my planing occurs prior to or enroute to an incident so lack of power is usually not an issue until we arrive on the scene of an incident. When we are operating in an area that has no power that lack of power is a significant concern. I am somewhat fortunate, however, when we deploy to a disaster we take significant power and communication resources with with us. In the event that we loose power or equipment is damaged I do have the ability to convert to a paper system. I am very excited to try out the new Evernote Moleskin Notebook for use in the field and then bringing those notes into my electronic work flow.

    • Thalia

      There are special solar panels that you can leave out in the sun (shocking, I know) and then use to charge USB-powered devices. There are also larger panels that can be used to charge a laptop, but they are gonna cost ya.

      By the way, if you’re a writer like: do yourself a favor and get an Alphasmart. With 700 hours on three penlite batteries, you should be able to keep typing until the power comes back on 😉

  • Tanya Barden

    I have a suggestion if you are accepting such input.

    Within each Notebook, on my laptop, the Notes are only displayed/sorted by date created, with the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top. I would really like the ability to move my notes as I see fit, those I use the most on top for example, or some other order. At this time, I can’t find a capability to resort my notes within a notebook or give them a different priority or ranking and thus change their display order.

    I also noticed that on my android phone, the order of the notes displayed is actually by date used, which I find much more useful than the sort order I see on the laptop. But again, there is no way to change that order, if I want to see them say alphabetically.

    In summary, this is a suggestion to add options for sorting of notes within a notebook, allowing the user to move notes to the top or other locations as well as have some preset sort options such as: by date descending (date last updated), by date ascending, by alpha, by date created, etc.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Tanya Barden

  • christiane

    This apps seem to be helpfull every where.

  • Thalia

    I have another tip: if you use a lot of medication and you somehow keep losing those annoying ‘medibracelets’, make a seperate ‘medicine’ stack, in which you put seperate notebooks like “once a week”, “once a day”, “if my left foot turns orange”…

    You can then create a seperate note for every mediction you use and incude an image of the container and/or seperate pill, dosage history, start/stop dates, when you should order new ones, or just scan all the info that came with it and include it as an attachment.

    The idea behind this is not to refer paramedics to your evernote account, but if disaster ever strikes and you are forced to leave your home without medication (or you weren’t home to begin with!), then its simply a matter of logging into Evernote Web from another system and hit ‘print’.

    Carryng your medical data with you is a good idea, but if you have ADHD, they might as well ask you to climb Mount Everest with your eyeballs. Evernote doesn’t need to be remembered; it follows us instead. 🙂