How to host a zoom catch up with your crew

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Let’s face it – things are weird right now. If you’re not an essential worker, you’re stuck at home. If you are an essential worker (or volunteer), you’re working under strict new conditions and guidelines and may not be seeing much of the crew from the station. Here’s how you can host a zoom catch up and check in on the crew!

No matter which of those categories you fall under, chances are you’ve not seen or heard from a bunch of people you would normally interact with. Training days and drill nights are either cancelled or running in a way which attempts to adhere to social distancing – even attending firecalls has changed!

The social connections we would normally enjoy at the fire station have dramatically dropped off, but not all is lost. Staying in contact with the crew at your station is important and there’s a bunch of different ways you can do it – we’re going to pick one here and talk about a few of things you can use to check in on your fellow firies.

Prerequisites and things to note

If you’re going to host a meeting, which is a great way to catch up with your crew, there are a few things you should think about beforehand.

  • Let everyone know in advance that this is happening. Schedule a time so people are prepared (and wearing pants).
  • Let everyone know what apps they need – in this case, it’s just one – Zoom. It’s by far the easiest, but it does have limitations. Check out their pricing and plans here. Tell everyone that you want in the meeting to download the app before the meeting time.
  • Now, the free version of zoom limits the room to 100 participants and has a 40 mins time limit. After that time, you’ll need to start a new meeting or buy one of their plans. That being said, 40 minutes should be enough to cover what you need and the free version still has great features like active speaker view, gallery view of participants, HD video, virtual backgrounds, schedule meetings and local recording abilities.

What programs do you need?

Enter; Zoom. If you’ve not heard of it before, it’s a popular online video conferencing system that’s free (with limitations) that allows you to host a meeting and anyone with a laptop, phone, iPad or similar can join in. That’s literally it.

You can download zoom for your device right here.

How to host a zoom meeting

You can set up zoom meetings from either a PC or a mobile device – but to demonstrate just how easy it is – we’re going to use a mobile phone.

  • Start by downloading the zoom app to your phone by going to their page, or your normal app store.
  • In order to host a meeting, you need to create an account or sign in. If you’ve got a Google or Facebook account, using the single sign-on feature is by far the easiest. Simply click on the Google or Facebook logo and log in.
  • Once you have logged in, there are only 2 real steps left. Create a meeting, then share it.
  • Tap on New Meeting, the orange icon up the top left. Select Video On and then tap “Start a Meeting”. Boom, you’re in! Your meeting is now live, all you need to do is add you participants and you’re away.
  • To get some people involved, tap the Participants button down the bottom – this will show you who is currently in the meeting which at this point, is just you. Tapping the Invite button in the bottom left will solve this. Select the method you want to notify your members of the meeting and fire away. Sending the details out will then allow people to join the meeting.

Who’s who and what to talk about

The gallery layout of a zoom meeting – imagine this with your crew!

In this post we’re just going to cover catching up with the crew – this isn’t about hosting a training session or a regular meeting, this is social but with a few key points to hit. If you’re the host of this meeting, here are a few tips to consider before you go live.

  • Identify who’s in charge of this whole thing (it’s probably you). Even tho this isn’t a training session or general meeting, it helps to have someone guide the conversation. Normally it would be someone of rank, so an officer would be preferable.
  • Have a few key topics to talk about in the catchup, don’t script it – keep it casual. Here are a few topics that would be good to touch on with your crew.

Crew Health

Isolation is tough. Working from home, or working under strict conditions can be taxing both mentally and physically, so checking in to see how everyone is doing is important. Ask how people are doing – offer to have offline chats after the meeting if anyone has any concerns or questions.

Sleep

Good healthy and meaningful sleep is critical. It helps both physically and mentally and has a profound impact on how our day pans out. If people are struggling to get good sleep, there’s plenty of options available on the net to help out. There are mindfulness apps like headspace or centr that offer sleep visualisations or relaxation exercises to help you drift off. Reading a book or listening to music 30 minutes before bed away from blue light-emitting screens is a great way to relax – that means no phones, TV’s or tablets for 30 minutes before you get into bed.

Diet

You are what you eat – and if you’re stuck at home a lot that could be anything from junk food to endless uber eats runs. Keep an eye on what’s going in, because bad food day after day can take its toll on the body. Try to cook extra dinner at night, or keep a good stockpile of things like fruits and nuts – not chips and bickies.

Exercise

This is the tricky part – gyms are closed and you’re stuck at home. Fear not, just getting outside can be enough. Have your morning coffee outside in the sun (safely) or go for an afternoon walk around the block. Physically getting up and out of the house is critical, provided you abide by the current restrictions in your area. Avoid staying in your house for every hour of every day. A cuppa outside each day is enough to get some vitamins and fresh air into your body.

Above all – enjoy!

Even tho it’s really important to keep up a connection with your crew, this catch up should be about fun. Don’t get bogged down in operational discussions or station politics – whoever is at the helm of this chat should help keep it on track and not let it go down a rabbit hole. Keep the conversation light-hearted, social and above all – fun!

It might help to make this known before the meeting starts – give everyone an expectation that this is a social catch up and not an operational meeting. Tell people to wear something fun (within reason!), or bring along a cold beverage to virtually share.

If you get stuck with any of the zoom stuff, they have a great support page.
Stay safe out there!




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Deano

I founded Flashover to promote Australian Firefighting. I've been a volunteer and a paid firefighter but now I spend my time chasing up leads, promoting good mental health and making the occasional Grumpy Firecom comic!

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