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"I Want a VSC" System Q&As for Vessel Examiners

Frequently Asked Questions About the "I Want a VSC System"

Q: I'm going on vacation and will not be able to perform VSC's for several weeks. How can I be removed temporarily from the I Want a VSC system?

A: Here is the tip for VE's going on Vacation, or Snowbirds that move North or South with the seasons...

Log into the AUXMEMBER Directory and you can temporarily opt out of the I Want a VSC system if you will be unavailable for a period of time and then opt back in on your return. The site is at:

http://auxofficer.cgaux.org/

If you've not yet set a password you can do it with the Obtain Password option. For those that want to learn more on using that tool, there is a short video mini class titled "How to change member information using 7028 Webform" that you can log in and take at the on-line training site at:

http://classroom.cgaux.org/

By doing this, you will not be contacted when you are not available to perform VSC's. Don't forget to opt back in when you return home.

Q: How does the system determine if I am one of the "nearest five (5) examiners"?

A: Each Zip Code in the U.S. and its territories has an official latitude and longitude, and the direct distance between two such coordinates ("as the crow flies") is an easy calculation. Your Zip Code is taken in real time from your address of record in AuxOfficer (AuxDirectory), and the requestor’s location is taken from validated information from the online form that he or she fills out. Note: If there is a high population of volunteers in the ZIP Code searched, the tool will randomize the results and then take five volunteers from the top of the randomized list.

Q: I am a VE and submitted an I Want a VSC request and did not see my email address in the TO: email address. Why is that?

A: The reason that you don't get any email response is that the system automatically BCC's the requestor (in this case, you). It is an artifact of many mail systems that if the same email address appears in the TO: or CC: line as one that appears in the BCC line, it is suppressed in the "visible" address lines. The email sent you shows, your name listed down in the body of the email, as one of the examiners that were being contacted.

The bottom line is that if a VE requests an exam for himself, he'll receive a BCC email as the requestor, will see himself in the list of examiners, but will not see himself in the TO address line of the email.

Q: I'm confused, his boat is in Florida, how are we / us in California involved?

A: That question was sent by an SO-VE that was included in the email. What happened was the VE moved from Florida to California and he never changed his address in AUXDATA. So he was selected as one of the closest VE's to the boater in Florida as well as his new FSO-VE and SO-VE were selected in the automated email. It is very important that our VE's keep their address and ZIP Code up to date in AUXDATA.

Q: I do my boating 100 miles from where I live. Where can I do Vessel Examinations?

A: Anywhere you want. However, the system will only offer you VSC opportunities near your official address in AuxData -- which you are free to change at any time.

Q: I am listed as the nearest examiner, but the Mississippi River is in the way, and the nearest bridge is 40 miles. What do I do?

A: Use common sense. Let one of the other listed examiners across the river take the request. Unfortunately, our IT group who wrote the system has not yet been able to find a "distance via road" online database. However, these cases are only problematic (and extremely rare) if none of the five examiners on the right side of the river (or other natural barrier), in which case the SO gets to help the requestor find an examiner.

Q: I am listed fifth in the email, as the furthest examiner. Do I have to wait for the others to respond?

A: No. The "early bird gets the worm". The approximate distance (as the crow flies) is shown on the request email, and if driving that is OK with you, it is OK with us.

Q: How do I let the other four (4) examiners know that I have contacted the requestor?

A: Simply hit "Reply ALL" in the request email, and say "I have contacted Mr./Ms. Xxx" and we are scheduled for a VSC on at . You follow this polite and informative format because the requestor will also get a copy of your reply to your shipmates.

Q: I don’t have a computer or email. Will I be included in the automated reply?

A: No. The system ignores vessel examiners who don’t have an email address. You’ll have to get your vessel examinations in the old fashioned way: participate in blitzes, walk the docks, meet people at Public Affairs events, etc.

Note that in the Auxiliary, where you can have a second email address listed in AuxData, only "Email 1" is used.

Q: I don’t want to participate. How do I opt out?

A: You can opt yourself out by logging onto AuxOfficer/AuxDirectory at http://auxofficer.cgaux.org, and looking yourself up. In the middle of the page is a list of opt-in/opt-out choices ("YES" "NO"). Simply set "Opt out of ‘I Want a VE’ Program" to "YES". The change is instantaneous, and you can simply close your browser.

Q: Why are the U.S. Power Squadrons members getting "our" requests?

A: Both the USPS and the Auxiliary are committed to boating safety. We’ve had a longstanding Memorandum of Agreement with the USPS that we will cooperate on Vessel Safety Checks, and our previous system has listed both Auxiliary and USPS examiners for years. It was just not as obvious, since only one examiner ever received the VE request.

Q: I called the requestor, and she told me another VE had just set up an appointment with her. What a waste of my time!

A: That’s great! At least two on you are on the ball. In such a situation, be gracious on the phone with the requestor, and say "Excellent news! We just wanted to make sure you are covered". Or something like that. And then, hit "Reply ALL" on the email and say "I contacted Ms. Doe, and she informed me that she was all set up with John. Thanks, John…" The key in all of this is communication. Talk to one another.

Q: My flotilla’s FSO-VE says only she can assign examiners to examinations, and that we are "Not allowed to respond to these requests."

A: Your FSO-VE is exceeding her authority. She is certainly free to proactively organize and manage VE events using your flotilla’s or division’s resources, but any currently qualified vessel examiner, Auxiliary or USPS, may respond to a spontaneous request by the public – whether through this system or otherwise – for a vessel safety check.

Q: I set up an appointment with the requestor, and then learned I had just gone "REYR". What do I do?

A: The system uses currency information from AuxOfficer, which is updated weekly (on Mondays) from AuxData. It is possible (but extremely unlikely) that a contacted VE will go REYR in that narrow one-week window, but if it happens to you, just use common sense. Use the request email as a source of the email addresses of the other four examiners, and privately send them an email asking for one of them to cover for you. Continue to follow up with the substitute examiner and the requestor until you are sure that a new appointment has been confirmed.

If this fails, then ask the FSO-VE or SO-VE for assistance.

Q: I’m going on a six-week cruise, and won’t be able to answer my emails. What do I do?

A: You also won’t able to perform any vessel examinations. Give everyone a break and "Opt out" in AuxOfficer/AuxDirectory while you are gone.

Q: I discovered I’m not getting request emails even though I live zero miles from some requestors.

A: 99 times out of 100, this will be because your address or email address is wrong in AuxData, hence in AuxOfficer/AuxDirectory. Browse to AuxOfficer as described above, and look yourself up. Make sure that both your city and Zip Code are correct, and make sure that your email #1 address is accurate. If either are wrong, click on the appropriate button on that page and correct the information.

In the rare event that you can confirm an actual bug in the software, use the National Help Desk (http://help.cgaux.org) only, and submit a ticket in the "C-Computer Software & Systems" category. Software bug reports are not to go through the Chain of Leadership or parallel chain.

Explain what system you were using, provide copies of the emails, your member ID, canonical flotilla number (e.g., 114-12-43), and any other information or clues that will help a software engineer. The system was developed by our National IT Group.

Q: It seems to me that the old way the website worked, with a person desiring a VSC choosing one local VE from a list, was much better. I don't like the way it works now with an email going to multiple VEs and everybody going out for a pass. Why did it change?

A: The old way worked but not as well as the new way. We are here to give the best service to the boating public possible. The boater is our number one priority. We strive for 100% satisfaction in the boater getting in contact with one of our volunteers and with the old method, it was just not fulfilling that objective. Just to show you an example, in 2011, there were over 3,000 boaters that requested a VSC and did not get a response from the volunteer they selected. Not a shining example for the US Coast Guard who we support. Those boaters then had to respond to the email and a volunteer had to try and assist them in getting a VE to give them a VSC. At times very frustrating with the boater trying not just once but up to five times waiting a week between each attempt.

The new system sends an email to the five closest VE's as well as the FSO-VE's and SO-VE's to insure that at least one of the volunteers responds. And since the new system has been in place, we have not had any boater that did not get a VSC. Of course since the first responder gets the VE, the response time is usually the same day the request was made. A much better image for the US Coast Guard, the Auxiliary and the US Power Squadrons.