The reality and intent:
The forms Dave removed were obsolete. In today's world, it is unlikely that a Red Crosser is going to sit down long enough to learn flmsg in its "expert" mode and dig out the form needed. Further, government agencies are now involved (responsible for?) damage assessment. During and after the fires last year in CA, CalFire had boots on the ground surveying properties in the burned areas, noting them by address or Lat-Long. NGO's (Red Cross) did not and to the best of my knowledge does not survey damage. Exactly who does that task varies across the country. On my deployment to SE TX a few years ago, the local JP declared residences destroyed by the flooding without even seeing them, just by the fact that they were in the flooded areas.
Safe and Well is handled differently that years past. Now, it is done when client's check into a shelter if that's what they want or later by polling shelter clients. Data is collected on hand-written forms initially or later on laptops if they have become available to shelter workers.
The custom forms are direct replicas of those found on the red Cross internal disaster tool repository and represent the type of messaging between a Red Cross service site (usually a shelter) and the Red Cross Disaster Operations Center (DOC). They were created to facilitate the type of messages that must get forwarded to the DOC in the early hours of a disaster response when the telecom infrastructure is down. Dave's mod of flmsg to include a "simple" or "agency" interface enables use by the average non-radio "civilian" (Red Crosser) to use the forms, create a .k2s object text file that can be sent over virtually any digital circuit, including as an email attachment to Winlink.
Also, hopefully those of you out there who are truly interested in assisting us with disaster comms would install the latest and greatest flmsg and the forms. Thus, if and more likely when Red Cross staff at a shelter lack computers in the early hours would be invited to sit down at your computer to compose a message, all in the interest of mitigating transcription errors.
Refer to Dave's posting under the topis header flmsg/ARC Forms for my contact info if you would like to discuss (I'd enjoy hearing about your recent disaster response experiences).
Jim, RN, n6med
ARC Gold Country Region
Dave generally follows the latest, current guidance on this sort of thing, and in the release notes, it was mentioned INTERNAL ARC forms were removed. This suggests perhaps that is why things might have done — they are not intended for general use or have been replaced/removed from actual use.
Amateur radio operators responding as ARES volunteers would be expected to take information from specific sources and relay to their respective served agency(ies). In the fire/ disaster scenario, this would likely be the local, regional, state or federal emergency management team(s).
No matter what the situation, as an individual ARC volunteer, you could choose to get the forms you are “allowed/expected” to complete from the ARC directly, amd manage them as part of your own specific setup. It’s one of the reasons the custom forms capability is provided in flmsg. It avoids the need to manage/maintain/track evey possible form used by the many different served agencies out there.
David Flad / KB3YCK
Chester County ARES/RACES