Resiliency in the Face of Disaster

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Hi all,

This year Devin and I (Rachel) went to the Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference just 10 days after hurricane Irma wrecked havoc on Florida. It was beautiful to see that even after such devastation the group still came together, supported each other and had their conference. It was a beautiful thing to see. Now in my home town, I am seeing the same thing happen.

As you may know by now, Northern California is experiencing a devastating series of fires. The Tubbs Fire, Atlas Fire, Sulfur Fire, Redwood Complex Fire, Pocket Fire, Nuns Fire…. The list goes on. It is my home turf and several of my family and friends have been affected and lost homes. Devin and I are however, safe for now. We may be surround on all sides, but our little valley seems to be okay this year. We just wanted everybody to know we are safe, vigilant and okay.

In the midst of this terrible tragedy our surrounding Wildlife Rehabilitation organizations have been helping each other out, sharing, switching and transporting patients. We are part of such a compassionate, caring, and wonderful community.

After hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria it almost gives you hope, despite all of our differences, we can join together and help each other out. Especially our awesome worldwide Wildlife Rehabilitation Community.

The Power of Appreciation

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It is mid-August! Hopefully there is light at the other end of the tunnel for most. During season we lay low. The last thing a wildlife rehabilitator needs in the middle of season is more stuff thrown at them. We understand.

However, this year we were taking a trip to New Mexico for other reasons. Now, when we travel anywhere, for any reason, it usually becomes a WRMD trip as well. We contacted 4 organizations in New Mexico that have accounts with us to see if they were able to take time in July, yes July, to quickly “haha” meet with us.

All 4 of the brave organizations agreed. So, in mid-July we visited:

Wildlife Rescue Inc, of New Mexico and Hawks Aloft joined our meeting with Wildlife Rescue Inc, as they work together a lot. We visited for a few hours and they had some really good questions as well as some very good suggestions, some of which will be implemented in the New Update (ETA in Oct.).

We also visited On a Wing and a Prayer, a small one woman operation working her tail off. Then we ended the trip visiting New Mexico Wildlife Center.

We would like to thank all these organizations and the people who welcomed us in and helped coordinate our visit (Cecilia, Jim, Mikal and Melissa), mid-season, for a chance to discuss what is working well with WRMD, what has been challenging, and where could we improve the user experience.

This is how we operate. This is how we develop and grow. This is how we can keep our finger on the pulse of wildlife rehabilitation. It is exhausting and a lot of work. However, every time we travel and visit our users we are rewarded ten fold with new ideas, suggestions and even sometimes praise, which is very nice…

I have to suggest to everybody, if you are a wildlife rehabilitator and you are traveling, find the organizations near you, call them up and try to visit. You will learn more then you can imagine and it continues to strengthen our community and the feeling that we are not doing this alone. We all do it a little different and we all do our best with what we have. Give appreciation to one another, we all are sacrificing parts of our lives to this crazy thing we do.

In the Heat of the Summer

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Happy July to everybody. Hopefully by now patient loads have peaked and the beautiful light of autumn is just around the corner. We know that this is just about the most difficult time of year for most rehabbers. So, let me apologize immensely for the upsets in WRMD service.

It is not at all our intention to have issues in the middle of summer, we know how this can effect the daily routine. What appears to be happening right now, at the very peak of season, is an overwhelming amount of activity within WRMD. When this happens little ugly gremlins, that were not issues before, pop their heads up. There is so much traffic that certain functions get clogged up in the system and they can’t seem to clear themselves up.

As soon as we know there is an issue we go in and try to find the clog and fix it. Sometimes this takes a little time to fix. Every few years we also have to upgrade our severs, so this year we are likely to do it again. This will allow for more space and speed.

Thank you for your patience. We would also like to thank those individuals that notice an issue right away and contact us directly. That is a big help!

Server Issues

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Some of you may have experienced some difficulties connecting with WRMD yesterday. We are incredibly sorry for the inconvenience. Apparently there was something going on with the servers. These are the offsite data nodes that host WRMD. We actually have 3 of them to try and keep things fast and efficient. If even one of these goes down, then things will slow down quite a bit.

We will be monitoring this all day and plan to upgrade our servers in the near future as well.

Again, we are really sorry. We know how much you rely on the system working to do your work and it is our goal to never have it interrupted. However sometimes it is completely out of our control.

Thank you for everything you do. You are all Hero’s!

Spring Reminders: Please Read

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The WRMD team is currently working to publish more information on how best to use WRMD. It is one thing to transition to using a whole new system. It is quite another to get to the point of using it appropriately.

In the past I have seen some very creative uses of WRMD that made sense, however they did not work with the use of a database. When WRMD is used appropriately it can be a powerful tool, when used a little to creatively it will muddle up your data and analytics. Here are a few reminders of appropriate use that I find are most commonly done a little, too creatively.

Choose a Common Name from the drop down menu

This one correction alone, can make the biggest difference to your data. I have Blogged a few times about the importance of species identification, The Issue with Common Names, February WRMD Update. In the background, WRMD has nearly every species that could possibly be brought into wildlife rehabilitation, globally. We have imported the IUCN Red List to WRMD, which list almost every species and its status, whether it is Least Threatened to Extinct (we didn’t import extinct animals). In a few cases, we have found species not on our list, and we added them as soon as we found out about them. Along with this import we also added the most commonly recognized Common Names for that species. That is why sometimes you can have both Common Pigeon and Rock Dove. In the background they are the same species and the first Common Name used, will be the name used in any reports or analytics.

Please identify your patients and use the Common Name from the drop down menu or your data will be inaccurate. Sometimes you have to type it in completely in order to see it on the drop down. If you can’t find it, message us so we can look into it. 

Record ages in the field for Age

On several occasions I have seen Duckling, Fawn or even Baby Bird as a Common Name. These are not Common Names. It is slang for the age of a species. The database will pretty much ignore this Common Name and your data will be completely off. You need to record the Common Name as Mallard, Mule Deer or House Finch and then in the Initial Exam tab you can record the age.

Do not use an age term as a Common Name.

Each patients needs it’s own record

Something else I have seen that really kinda hurts, is when a Common Name is recorded as ducklings x5. This defeats the whole purpose of using a database. Not only can the Common Name not be identified but you are losing your overall numbers. Right below the Common Name field there is a field for Number of Patients, it is really easy to create 5 records. What happens if 2 of those ducklings die and 3 are released. How do you record that? How does that get translated on your State Report or the Federal Report? There are locations for all that information within WRMD, there is not need to jumble it up and make your data of no use to you.

Each patient needs it’s own record.

Educational animals have a spot for their Name and should recorded as Residents

A few times I have seen in Common Name (Education Barn Owl) or (Billy Bob the Barn Owl). Well, this is much like everything I have mentioned above. There is a location for the Name of an animal in the Cage Card, specifically for education animals and the large secret group or rehabbers that name their patients… For Resident patients they should maintain a pending Disposition and in the Location box you should record them as Resident within Holding at.

Education Animals can be recorded as Resident in the Location box and their Names can be recorded in the Cage Card box, in the Name field.


We have been told that one of the best things about WRMD is it’s ease of use. The compromise of allowing WRMD to be easy to use, we lose the ability to control how it is used. We think it is more important to have a system people can easily use then to be very strict and rigid on how it is used. Only through training and outreach can we eventually help people use it more efficiently, for their own benefit.

Batch Update Now Available

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Drum Roll Please…..

We know many of you have been waiting very patiently the last year for batch updating to be complete. Believe me when I say we got it done as fast as we could. There were many other factors at play that had to be completed before we could get batch updating developed and tested.

Batch Updating

Batch updating will give you the ability to batch “change” multiple fields at once. At this point not all fields are available, but most of the important ones like Locations and Dispositions are. To batch update your records there are four steps to follow. Each of these steps is important so please pay attention to what you are doing. Batch updating is a powerful tool and if used incorrectly it can really mess your records up, so use wisely my friends.

If there are fields that you want to batch update that are currently unavailable, please tell us. We will make fields available as requested once we can ensure that everything is working smoothly.

A Few Things to Know Before Batch Updating

  1. You can not batch update blank values. In other words, you can not batch delete values. Can you image how tragic that could be if used maliciously?
  2. Treatment Logs, Rechecks and Locations can be batch updated however they will not edit past entries. They will instead batch create a new Treatment Logs, Rechecks or Locations for each patient.

Step One

You need to identify the patients which you want to batch update. There are several different ways to do this:

  1. Do a search for terms or fields that all patients might have in common. Example: Search for Common Name=House Finches, Disposition=Pending and current location Enclosure=Aviary 5. This will give you a list of all pending House finches in Aviary 5. Then you might record that they were all released.
  2. Another technique would be to visit the List Patients page and check the checkboxes next to the patients you want to batch update. Example: 5 mallard ducklings that came in that day and you what to transfer them all to another facility. (This will only change their disposition, it will not send the receiving organization the records, you still have to do that manually.)
  3. A hybrid of the 2 above techniques would work as well. Do a search and then check the checkboxes of the patients from the search results to refine who you actually want to batch update. Example: Search for all Common Name=Grey Fox, then click on the checkbox for the ones that are being sent to homecare.

Once you have identified the patients you want to update, click the “Batch Update” button above the list of patients

Identify the Patients to Update

Identify the Patients to Update

Step Two

Fill in the information you wish to Batch Update. There are a few tabs available so switch between them as needed. When you switch tabs the information you have already filled in will stay there.

Fill in the information you wish to Batch Update

Fill in the information you wish to Batch Update

Step Three

You have filled in all the fields that you want to update and now you have a choice on how text fields should be updated. This is IMPORTANT! You will have to choose 1 of these 2 options

  1. Delete existing text values and write my new values in their place
    The first option is to replace the old data that was in the field with your newly entered data. The previous data will be DELETED and REPLACED with the new data you have entered.
  2. Keep existing text values and add my new values by comma separation
    The second option is to KEEP the old data and ADD the new data to whatever was there. Lets say you add a keyword to a group of house finches that are Trichomonas negative. That will allow whatever may already be written in Keywords to stay there and the new term will just be added on and separated by a comma.
How Should Text Values be Updated?

How Should Text Values be Updated?

Step Four

Click Batch Update My Records.

Click Batch Update My Records

Click Batch Update My Records

That’s It.

You should see the batch update results immediately if you go to the patients. If for any reason you feel that the wrong data was updated or there was any error please tell us. We have spent months working out all sorts of bugs and gotchas with this. This is an amazing tool but it can also be very dangerous. It gives you the ability to destroy multiple records at once so please batch wisely.

Scheduled Maintenance

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Start: 2017-03-08 06:00 UTC
End: 2017-03-08 14:00 UTC

During the above window, there will be an upgrade of our networking software.

During the maintenance window WRMD will lose networking connectivity for a period of up to five minutes. We expect the actual disruption to be minimal for most, but we will be closely monitoring for issues throughout the window.

Do not hesitate to contact support ( if you have any additional questions or concerns.

Attached and Detatched

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I received another good question from a user. Her question was about attached records, detached records and how to reattach records. This feature is not a very obvious feature and it kinda lurks in the background. I thought this was a good opportunity to explain this topic to everyone.

Attached Records

What does it mean when records are attached? You may have run across this, if you have access and are in the “Rescuer” tab. (Not everybody has access to the “Rescuer” tab. It is a security precaution feature.) This happens when you create a new record with multiple patients.

Example – Bob Smith brings in 10 mallard ducklings, and you use choose 10 on the “Number of Patients”.

Those 10 records will all be attached to one another under Bob Smith’s name and admit information. If you change his name or information in any one of those records, they will all change. After the admission process the only time the attachment is really relevant is within the “People” tab.

Detach Records

When you detach a record, it basically just detaches that rescuer from the record and allows you to edit the admit information without changing the other attached records. The fact that you detached one really doesn’t make a difference to the patient’s record, just to the Rescuer’s list of patients they have brought in.

Example – Bob Smith actually only brought 9 mallards in, you counted wrong. You can go to any of those records and within the “Rescuer” tab you can Detach one (usually the last one created is wise) of those records so that you can either delete it (if it was the last record created) or you can rewrite over it with new information. If you rewrote over it with new information without detaching it, all 10 of the mallards admit information would change as well, so detaching a record in this case would be critical.

Reattaching Records

There are times when you detach a record by mistake or Bob Smith comes back in with 2 more mallards a few hours later and you want to make sure all the mallards are attached.

Example 1 – Actually, Bob Smith did bring in 10 mallard ducklings and you have already detached the last record, but you have not changed anything about it yet. The only way to reattach this record is in the “People” tab. What you have to do is “Combine People” and find the 2 Bob Smiths that have the same information but are not known as being the same person. If you combine them, then that mallard will be reattached to Bob Smith and therefore to the other 9 Ducklings.


Example 2 – Though Bob Smith is really nice his records are beginning to give you a head ache. Two hours after Bob Smith leaves, he is back with 2 more mallard ducklings. There have been a few admit’s since he left. What you can do now, is go to any one of those mallard’s record. Go to “Share” and “Duplicate Record”. It will give you the choice on how many to duplicate, you would choose 2. All the information will be the same. Next you create the 2 new records. Now all 12 records are attached to one another and linked by Bob Smith’s information.


On the Topic of Computers and Browsers…

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I received a message today from a new user. They were very concerned that they could not easily print the record of new intake patients. They explained how once the record was created there was this long tedious process of clicks and screen changes as well as having to find the PDF somewhere in the blackhole of computer files, all to just print that patients record.

At first I was a little confused, what possible could this poor group be doing? So I had to do a bit of my own research to try and figure out what exactly was happening.

For being a rather Techy wildlife rehabilitator I (Rachel) still do not know everything about computers (Devin, knows way more) but if I could not figure this out on my own without help, I am sure many others could not as well. So, I did a little experimenting and researching, to see how I could help this group out.

I thought this topic a really interesting question and a very real occurrence in a less technological crowd I felt that discussing this issue was important. There could be so many factors in place and WRMD really has very little control over anything the “Computer” might do.

Here was my response…
“I can see where you are coming from, however I think much of this can be fixed with changing your computers preferences. The first thing you should know is, we can not get around using a PDF. A print screen does not work. As you can see, what is printed is specially formatted to fit all of the patients information unto the least space possible. The only way to do that is via a PDF. Also, in order to print the record you have to create the record first, that is why we have the option to go the patients record immediately after creating it, so you can edit it or print from it. If the browser is set-up appropriately it takes only 4 clicks and no manual screen changes to print a PDF.

To me it really sounds like the way your computer’s preferences are set-up is a biggest part of your issue. My guess is that the way your browser deals with PDF’s is not efficient. I highly suggest using Chrome if you are not already. If you go to the Browser’s Preferences you can select where a PDF is downloaded to, you can create a file on your computer just for PDF from WRMD. However, at least on my browser I can choose to always have a PDF pop up when I download one. So, I select from WRMD Share – “Print Record” and the PDF shows up automatically and I press print and it is done, I do not have to find it anywhere, it is there on my screen in front of me.

We have no control of how the browsers on users computers do stuff, so my first suggesting is to figure out how your browser can show you a PDF the second you download one. I think that would solve your problem.

For multiple patients like 8 opo’s if you go to the list view select the little box to the left of the Case #, you can choose to print all 8 of the opo records at once and you do not need to go to every single record to print it.

Every single organization uses WRMD in different ways. The hardest part is adjusting to it the first time. Sometimes you have to change the way you do certain things in order to make it work. Asking questions and finding out how to make it work best for you is really important and that is why we are here. Believe it or not we have not had one complaint about how records are printed on intake, at least no one has expressed concern. It is a tool, and it takes time and experience to use that tool to best fit your needs.

Please let me know if this helps you at all. We don’t want WRMD to be a burden to anyone and and try very hard to make it very streamlined and easy, but some things are completely out of our control.”

WRMD is NOT Hacked

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Today we were alerted to a hacking event on our blog. It could easily bee seen with the message “Hacked By SA3D HaCk3D” on the dashboard within WRMD.

WRMD itself was NOT hacked. Your Data Is Safe.

Fortunately it was an easily resolution and all is safe now.

PS: If you are using WordPress for your organizations website, you should upgrade to version 4.7.2.