Ukraine Notebook: Onboarding

“Onboarding:” getting a new person integrated into your unit. Here’s how to do it.

When a new volunteer arrives at your unit, you need to be able to get them functional quickly, while ensuring that they have all of the skills and information that they will need to be both effective and safe. The US military has a lot of practice moving people in and out of new jobs quickly and efficiently. It revolves around a “sign-off” sheet. This is a form of checklist. It lists the people that you need to see–pay clerk, medic, postal clerk, etc., etc., etc. As you meet each one, they take care of whatever you need, sign your form, and send you off to the next person. In two days, you have taken care of everything, and you’re ready to start working.

Here is an onboarding sign-off sheet for a new volunteer in Ukraine with a unit doing “hot extractions–” evacuation of civilians from the front line. This is a very common occupation for foreign volunteers. Adapt it to your group’s mission, operating environment, etc. The sign-off process starts with assembling information, and then proceeds to ensuring that the new volunteer can demonstrate the required skills, and familiarity with the equipment for, whatever it is that you’re doing. Do you have suggestions for additions? Please tell us about them in the Comments section!

Personal information

Name:Stepan Bandera
Phone number:+1 503-456-7890
Emergency contact:Olha Kyïva
Medications:metoprolol 25 mg/day
Blood type:A+
Immunizations:COVID 12/22, DPT 3/2020
“NKDA” means “no known drug allergies.” Note that the Eastern and Western European blood-typing systems are different.

Personal Protective Equipment

Explain purpose and limits of body armor
Explain purpose and limits of helmet
Explain purpose and limits of ballistic glasses
Demonstrate proper adjustment of plate carrier
Demonstrate proper adjustment of helmet

Mission protocol

Install navigation system
Explain crew numbering system
Demonstrate injured driver procedure
Demonstrate injured navigator procedure
Demonstrate injured crew member procedure
Demonstrate body armor buddy check
Don’t know what an “injured driver procedure” or a “buddy check” is? Stay tuned for future blog posts.


For every vehicle:

Demonstrate checking oil
Demonstrate checking other fluids 
Demonstrate checking tire pressure
Show location of spare tire
Show location of jack
Demonstrate how to open and close doors
Demonstrate how to lock and unlock doors
State when to shut off engine
Do you really have to learn how to open, close, and unlock the doors of a vehicle? Absolutely. Many humanitarian groups use old cash-carrying vans with doors that can only be opened from one side, or that prevent the engine from being started if they are not locked, or… Multiply this by the number of vehicles in your unit, and then by how hard it is to remember details when someone is shooting at you. You’d be amazed.


Show location of bomb/fallout shelter
Show location of electrical cut-off switch
Show location of gas cut-off switch
Show location of water cut-off valve
Show location of fire extinguishers
Show location of keys
Show three potential exits from building
Location of first aid kit
Explain contents of first aid kit
Demonstrate use of fire extinguisher
Demonstrate locking and unlocking doors

Tactical skills

Explain cover versus concealment
Prone position for shelling
Aerial attacks
Situational awareness
Personal protective equipment: purpose and limits
PPE: use and wearing
Use of radiation monitor
Procedure for nuclear accident
Stay off of the fucking grass
Identify common land mines, cluster bombs, and booby traps
Identify common land mine injuries
Identify friendly and Russian uniforms
Blood chit
Define and state purpose of rally point
Indicate major roads on map (Kramatorsk)
Indicate major roads on map (area of operations)
Demonstrate first aid skills
Is there an entire sign-off sheet for first aid skills? Of course.

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