When we give them lemons, make lemonade


(Photo: Kyle Miller / Wyoming IHC)

The crew are done with the Little Book Cliff Fire. It was a good fire to give our logistics planning a try.

There was pressure for the crews to be more self-sufficient this year with food. There are few things more important in a hotshot crew than good, nutritious food. Along with helping recovery and fueling crew members through rough days, good food is linked with high morals and high attitude. These are things we knew when we started the planning process at the end of March.

One aspect that we may have overlooked and are starting to see the benefits of is the social part of cooking and sharing meals. With strong team cohesion being one of the most important characteristics of the world's top performing teams, cooking together is another great way to build team cohesion.

With limited time, efficiency in everything has been the number one priority for all designs and plans. We took an enclosed trailer and built it into a little kitchen hut where we can do our food prep while having to go out as little as possible.

(A big time saver for prep is the 3 qt food chopper. Which is springy in the upper left corner of this photo. As far as time goes, it might be the most important tool we have. The cabinets lock to the ceiling so they can be left open and out of the way of cooks.)

Another logistical hurdle was meal planning and shopping efficiency for 20 people over several days. To deal with it, we have an Excel sheet where meals are selected on one page and an organized shopping list with the combined ingredients for all meals is generated.

(You just select how many times you want to eat a certain meal by putting in a number. In this case it was one of each of those meals. Then the next tab generates the list. shopping for meals for 20 people. This is still an evolving menu but this is the current state of it.)

There is also a bulk item list, we can check the quantities of items we might already have on hand before purchasing more. The excel sheet is stored in a personal Onedrive account and is shared among the crew members who will be doing the races. With the Onedrive and Excel applications, mobile phones function like shopping lists shared between a few buyers. The last important piece is a paper cookbook with a meal planner, so cooks know what meals to cook and what amounts of ingredients they are allowed to use.

(This page is the shopping list that appears on our cellphones. Meats are first followed by vegetables, dairy, etc. There is a list of loose items to check if we already have ingredients on hand and in sufficient quantity. If we were shopping for a different number of people, the “Number of people” box can be changed to adjust the quantities accordingly.)

Thanks to Kyle Miller for sharing the story of the crew through history and pictures and the Wyoming IHC members for their initiative and innovation during a crisis. No product approval is planned. All thoughts are those of the author.