May 19, 2013 Leave a comment
Starting June 14, 2013 Tim Bonno will return to blogging. Join Tim on a road trip adventure to Strongsville, Ohio. We hope you will return then and catch up with an old friend.
Business Continuity, Emergency Management, and Leadership
December 17, 2012 Leave a comment
Planning! Have you ever noticed how much planning we do throughout our lives?
This time of ever, everyone seems to be planning for holiday get togethers, either because they are hosting one or because they are an invited guest. Guest lists, food and drinks all require planning, as do travel arrangements. We are also “planning” our holiday gift giving – how much to give and to whom.
Then there’s family budgeting, educational planning, Long-term care planning, vacation (holiday) planning, retirement planning, estate planning, career planning, planning an upcoming wedding, and the list goes on, and on, and on.
At work, many of us have entered into end-of-year planning where we are documenting our accomplishments, or as supervisors, we are planning our year-end reviews with our subordinates. This time of year I’m always reminded of that great scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) puts a deposit down on his backyard pool because he’s “planning” on his annual bonus. And of course, many have started strategic planning for 2013 Goals and Objectives.
All of this planning got me to think about the planning that’s the core of business continuity. I referred to the Disaster Recovery Journal to see what references the Journal has with respect to planning. There, I found the generally accepted definition of Business Continuity planning as “the process which occurs, based on risk evaluation and business impact analysis, to identify procedures, priorities and resources for:
The planning process should encompass response through restoration, and result in the creation of one or more of the following types of plan documents: business continuity plans, disaster recovery plans, crisis management plans or pandemic plans.
Contingency Planning is the process of developing advanced arrangements and procedures that enable an organization to respond to an undesired event that negatively impacts the organization.
The technical component of business continuity planning is referred to as Disaster Recovery Planning.
Enterprise-wide Planning is the overarching master plan covering all aspects of business continuity within the entire organization, which shouldn’t be confused with Work Area Recovery Planning which is the business continuity planning process of identifying the needs and preparing procedures and personnel for use at the work area facility.
Of course, all good business continuity planners know that before we can say a plan is valid, it has to be exercised. And of course we need to develop and Exercise Plan, which is defined as a plan designed to periodically evaluate tasks, teams, and procedures that are documented in business continuity, plans to ensure the plan’s viability. This can include all or part of the BC plan, but should include mission critical components.
Some service organizations also conduct what’s known as Service Continuity Planning – which is a process used to mitigate, develop, and document procedures that enable an organization to recover critical services after a business interruption.
Out of all this planning activity come plans – all kind of plans (not all inclusive) ….
And you thought having multiple Standards and Certifications was confusing.
Let me leave you with this famous quote from Gen. Dwight Eisenhower – “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.”
Getting Prepared In a Year
Listen, let’s get back on the road to getting prepared. Here’s a few more things you can do now to add to your preparedness kit:
From your local Grocery store, pick up the following items:
Things to Do:
Arrange for a friend or neighbor to help your children in an emergency if you are at work
October 27, 2012 Leave a comment
By definition, a disaster is a sudden, unplanned calamitous event that causes great damage or loss. A key concept is that in most cases it’s sudden and unplanned. Yes, there are exceptions. One exception is occurring right now, with “Frankenstorm”.
As Hurricane Sandy barrels north from the Caribbean to meet two other powerful winter storms, experts said it doesn’t matter how strong the storm is when it hits land, the rare hybrid storm that follows will cause havoc over 800 miles from the East Coast to the Great Lakes. A recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says “We’re looking at impact of greater than 50 to 60 million people”.
People AND businesses along the east coast have had a few days now, and a couple yet to come, to get prepared before the expected storm(s) hit. Those who are wise are either already prepared or will use this opportunity (it’s a positive word) to become prepared. In the end, whether or not this turns out to be as severe as forecasters are saying, they will be part of the solution. However, there will be those who won’t prepare and will simply continue to be part of the problem. What a shame.
Knowing what I know, especially about how easy it is to get prepared, I always wonder why people chose not to prepare even in the face of the inevitable. Several years ago, I stumbled across an article titled “The “Disaster Dozen -Top Twelve Myths of Disaster Preparedness” written by Paul Purcell. Hopefully, those on the east coast are talking about preparedness and not using these excuses …
We know from past experience that 9-1-1 may be overloaded in a large-scale disaster. The normal few minute response times most of us have come to rely on in normal times most likely will become hours or days in a true disaster. So we will be on our own.
We MUST prepare to be on our own for at least 72-hours, but in reality we may be on our own for longer periods of time. Remember Hurricane Katrina? Consider what you and your family will need for the next 7-10 days. Did you know each person will require one gallon of water per day? And don’t forget your pets (read my previous blog).
Check your insurance policies closely. Call your insurance agent NOW and make sure you have the appropriate coverage’s and ask your agent what you will need to supply if you need to file a claim. If you will need pictures and/or receipts to support your claim, you might still have time to gather these important items. And then, make sure you store them in a safe and accessible location that won’t be affected by the disaster. Maybe e-mail your important files to a relative in a distant city.
Lastly, why do some say things like this can’t happen here or there? Is there a special law of science or government that makes it impossible? In reality, bad things do happen and we have to be prepared.
So how can people along the east coast get prepared even in the face of Frakenstorm? Check these links out from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Ready.gov website …
Hurricane preparedness – www.ready.gov/hurricanes
Flooding preparedness – www.ready.gov/floods
Winter storm preparedness – www.ready.gov/winter-weather
October 21, 2012 1 Comment
So have you missed me? It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. While not a good excuse, I’m going to blame life’s other commitments as the reason I have written recently. I know I’ve missed my blogging and I hope you’ve missed my blogging too.
One of my life’s other commitments came to fruition this past week. A year ago, my search and rescue team (Eureka Fire Protection District Search and Rescue) began planning for the 15th annual Canine Search and Recovery (CSAR) Seminar. This past week the seminar finally took place. The weather and fall foliage here in the St. Louis area were simply spectacular all week. We welcomed over 90 search and rescue dog handlers and their canines from all over the United States for a great week of training. One of the more unique training opportunities we were able to offer attendees was the chance to train within the Six Flags Amusement park located in Eureka, Missouri. A traditional fun activity that attendees were able to enjoy was the charitable auction that took place Wednesday evening. Everyone had a great time and we raised some money for our search and rescue team too.
Due to my search and rescue involvement working with dogs (and horses) I found a recent article very interesting and thought I’d feature it on my blog. The article was titled “Japan Earthquake Caused Long-Lasting Stress in Dogs”. In the article, Stephanie Pappas writes about a new study that found that family dogs caught up in the Japan earthquake of 2011 and subsequent nuclear disaster at Fukushima showed signs of stress not inconsistent with PTSD long after the events.
The research compared abandoned dogs rescued from Fukushima with non-disaster affected dogs abandoned in 2009 and 2010, before the earthquake. The dogs that lived through the disaster had stress hormone levels five to 10 times higher than the dogs that were simply abandoned or found as strays.
Researchers who conducted the study wrote that “Long-term care and concern regarding the psychological impact of disasters appears necessary in humans and companion animals.”
The issue of how we deal with our pets in a disaster is a fairly recent one. And even more recent is how to deal with live stock in a disaster. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has several free Independent Study courses available online that address dealing with animals (both pets and livestock) in a disaster.
According to FEMA’s Ready.gov website, if you evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND! Pets most likely cannot survive on their own and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.
If you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets; consider loved ones or friends outside of your immediate area who would be willing to host you and your pets in an emergency.
Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can’t care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.
Here are some other tips about how to care for your pets in a disaster:
Get ready now
After the disaster
Well, I expect to be back on track with regular blogging on November 1. I hope you’ll be back with me. Until then … stay safe.
September 16, 2012 Leave a comment
If you are a new reader to my blog, welcome. I hope you like what you read and will join me often. Welcome back to those of you that are regular readers. Thank you for your continued support. Whether this is your first time reading my blog or you’ve been following along for some time, please feel free to leave me a comment about the blog or to recommend future topics. And of course, I hope you will share my blog with your friends. Hey, here’s a challenge, let’s see if we can get 1,000 readers over the next two weeks. Simply forward the link to this blog to your friends. I’m curious as to how quickly we’ll reach 1,000 readers.
So today, I’m going to write about a few items, so let’s get started ….
My family and I recently drove up to Peoria, Illinois to meet some family. In all the time we’ve lived in St. Louis, we’ve never had the opportunity to make the three-hour drive to Peoria. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of time to spend as I had to be back home by 6:00P for my “Concession Stand” duty at school (more to follow on this).
According to Wikipedia … Peoria is the largest city on the Illinois River and the county seat of Peoria County. The city was established in 1691, making it the oldest European settlement in Illinois. It was established by the French explorer Henri de Tonti, Peoria, and is named after the Peoria tribe (hey, getting back to my Native American roots!). As of the 2010 census, the city was the seventh-most populated in Illinois, with a population of 115,007. The Peoria Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 373,590 in 2011, making it the third largest metropolitan area in the state after the Chicago metropolitan area, and the Metro-East portion of the St. Louis metropolitan area.
Peoria has become famous as a representation of the average American city because of its demographics and its perceived mainstream Midwestern culture. As they say “back in the day” on the Vaudeville circuit, it was said that if an act would succeed in Peoria, it would work anywhere. The question “Will it play in Peoria?” has now become a metaphor for whether something appeals to the American mainstream public. Peoria is headquarters for Caterpillar Inc., one of the 30 companies composing the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Although we didn’t get a chance to do any sightseeing, from the quick trip we had, we all agreed we’d really like to get back there soon and see more.
This weekend was the 40th Anniversary of the Great Forest Park Balloon Race at Central Field in Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri. In the past, we’ve seen the Balloon Glow as well as the actual race, but that was years ago.
The Great Forest Park Balloon Race was founded by renowned balloonists Nikki Caplan and John O’Toole in 1973, and taken over by four, young, enthusiastic balloonists: John Marlow, John Schaumburg, Dan Schettler and Ted Staley in 1977. What started with four newly certified balloonists and a whimsical group dubbed the Mississippi River Balloon Transit Company, today hails as the organization of the most well-attended, single-day balloon race in the country.
I share this with you, because, as we were rushing back from Peoria, we crossed over from Illinois into Missouri on I-64/40 just in time to see the balloons as they floated from Forest Park heading west. I’m including a few pictures in the slide show that follows.
Concession Stand Duty!
My kids have played soccer for years. And as part of the program that we belong to, when you register the kids, parents make a commitment to work in the Concession Stand one time (for about three hours) during the season or pay a $100 commitment fee. Now, my grandson has been playing soccer for about five years and I have been very happy that each year, either because of rain or some other game cancelling issue, I was able to escape this. As a matter of fact, all of the parents I know dread concession stand duty. And wouldn’t you know, in our final year in youth soccer and my luck wore out. This year I’d need to fulfill my commitment.
So after racing back home from our wonderful day trip to Peoria, I got to the Concession Stand at my appointed time of 6:00PM. Being the friendly guy I am, I introduced myself to the Director and explained I had never worked in a Concession Stand before. He said great and for the next few minutes proceed to conduct my “on-the-job” training after which he let me know he was taking off for another commitment, I’d be on my own for the next hour, and he’d be back before the end of the night.
What? On my own? Is he for real? I guess this is payback, for all those times I escaped.
So I started by making popcorn. I turned on the theater-style popper and dumped in the oil and seasoned corn. It finally started popping as people were coming up to buy their “delicious” refreshments.
Two sodas – no problem
A candy bar – go it
A pretzel – got it right here (thank goodness they had some hanging on that pretzel merry-go-round thing.
As I cashed folks out, I smelled the popcorn … burning. OMG! My first batch was burnt! So I quickly threw it away and started a second batch.
More sodas – no problem
A couple of ring pops – OK
Nacho’s and cheese please – WHAT? Where are the nacho chips and cheese? I felt bad but I had to tell them to come back later because we were just getting things warmed up. They looked at me with that questionable look, but walked away.
I put a few hot dogs onto the heated roller machine figuring someone would certainly want a nice warm hot dog during the game. Just then, a young soccer player came running up saying he needed a bag of ice for another player who twisted his ankle. Wow, terrific! I’m trained in First Aid/CPR, I teach emergency preparedness class across the United States, and I’m a member of a Search and Rescue team. This is right up my alley! I had the ice machine full of ice, I just need a bag. Where are the bags? I saw the AED hanging on the wall. I saw the first aid kit, but no bags for ice. The more cabinets I looked in the less I saw and now I started to panic. All I need is a freak’in plastic bag for ice. Where are the freak’in plastic bags???? Finally, I found a zip-lock bag, filled it with ice and sent the young man on his way to help his friend.
I had a moment to relax. Hmmm, that smells like smoke. I burnt the popcorn again! Why me????
So I cleaned out the popper again and started a third batch. While the corn was popping I also figured out where the nacho chips were and how to get that orang goo they call nacho cheese out of the machine. But still no hot dog sales.
Finally, after an hour, two moms showed up saying they were there to help out for the evening. I introduced myself to them and they both said hesitantly that they had never worked in a Concession Stand before. Needless to say I said “No problem, I’ve done this many times and that I’d help them get settled in by showing them what to do”.
I’ve also included a picture from the Concession Stand.
I want to leave you with a couple of links to some comical CERT videos that were made this week by students attending CERT Train-the-Trainer and Program Manager classes at FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI) in Emmitsburg, MD. My fellow instructors (great instructors and good friends) Paul, Wilson, Joe, and Alan taught there this week. From these video’s, it appears we missed a couple of great classes. These video’s are TERRIFIC!
Getting Prepared In a Year
We continue on our journey to becoming prepared at home. Here’s a few more things you can do now to add to your preparedness kit:
From your local Grocery store, pick up the following items:
Things to Do:
Find out if you have a neighborhood safety organization and join it. If you aren’t sure, call your local police or fire department (please do not dial 9-1-1) and ask. If you don’t have a neighborhood safety organization, consider starting one.
September 2, 2012 Leave a comment
Earlier this week as I began to put this blog together, Hurricane Isaac made landfall in southeastern Louisiana, with winds of 80 mph that spread out over an area 200 miles wide. It was a Category 1 hurricane as it came ashore, and the National Hurricane Center warned of “strong winds and a dangerous storm surge occurring along the northern Gulf Coast.”
Isaac proved to be a massive and slow-moving storm, when it reached the coastline just a day short of the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005. I found it interesting that as the storm reached southeastern Louisiana, it did something unusual to the Mississippi River – it threw the river into reverse. For nearly 24 hours, according to the US Geological Survey, Isaac’s storm surge drove upriver at a pace nearly 50 percent faster than the downstream flow. The backflow produced a crest some 10 feet above the river’s pre-storm height at Belle Chasse, La., in flood-beleaguered Plaquemines Parish southeast of New Orleans. The surge added eight feet to the river’s height at Baton Rouge, father north. The only other time I heard of the “Mighty Miss” flowing backwards was during the 1811-12 New Madrid earthquakes.
Since then, the aftermath of Isaac has moved through the St. Louis area. Early reports were calling for two to four inches of rain throughout the weekend. Up until now, drought was the disaster across the Midwest. We had a couple of inches of rain and just some minor flash flooding. With the drought that we’ve had throughout the Midwest this summer, the rain was appreciated. Just wish we would have had it earlier in the season.
In looking back at the many classes I have taught over the past few years many have related to the Federal Emergency Management’s (FEMA) Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. Whether it was a Train-the-Trainer or a Program Manager class, I could always be certain that a handful of people in each class were concerned with sustainment – sustaining interest in the program, sustaining involvement, sustaining support, and yes sustaining funding. And while it may have been just a handful who were openly addressing the concern, I knew the rest were equally interested.
Thinking about this common theme, it also struck me that in leadership and management, we too are concerned with sustainment – sustaining interest, sustaining involvement, sustaining support, and yes sustaining funding. So I thought I’d share my classroom ideas and see how well they translate over into the leadership and management environment. The following are just two areas that can help sustainment.
In most of the classes I teach, participants attend because they want to be there. Something about the class caught their interest and now they want to get involved. Maybe it was the topic, the venue, or the instructor (huh?). Subsequently, the people who will attend their classes will be the same. We say they are “self-motivated”. They are looking to satisfy an internal need.
Our employees also have internal needs that when addressed appropriately can be motivators. As a leader, I look for opportunities where I can encourage a person’s interest. Getting people interested is half the battle. In order to generate interest in someone we must be able to paint a clear and vivid picture to those we are trying to generate interest in as to why this is (should be) important to them. In all honesty, we are appealing to the “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) question. Being a good communicator can help us paint that picture and in turn generate interest, either in the classroom or office. Once we have their interest which then leads to involvement, we must ask ourselves “how will I keep them involved”?
The keys to sustaining involvement, or perhaps engagement is by 1) giving others an opportunity to do something that they feel is important (it meets their expectations), 2) their skills and capabilities are well matched for the task they are being asked to perform, and 3) they receive periodic, heart-felt appreciation.
One common concern I hear from CERT team members is that “we train and train and train, every so often we’ll help pass out flyers at a community function but I’m not being challenged. I’m not accomplishing what I set out to do.” At this point, I’m certain the next step would be for people to start removing themselves from the team. Isn’t it possible we could face the same situation in our work environments? If people aren’t interested, they won’t engage.
As leaders and managers, we must understand what expectations our team members have, and communicate ours too. The only way to accomplish this is to ask and have an honest and open discussion about expectations … yours and theirs. Once we understand expectations, we can then balance those against needs; needs of the program, project or task. In this process, we also look to match skills. Chances are very good that when we put people in positions where they can use their physical and mental skills and capabilities to accomplish tasks that meet their expectations, everyone succeeds.
At this point many stop short. To really be successful we have to follow through and offer periodic, heart-felt appreciation. At its basic level, this should be a simple verbal “good job – well done”. In the business world, it generally takes a more formal approach in the form of evaluations (mid-year and annual). But that’s not always timely and because of the formality may even lose some of its impact. The key to appreciation is timeliness, heart-felt, and appropriate for the action. And it doesn’t have to happen just once!
And why not try other forms of appreciation; like Certificates of Recognition, monthly or quarterly luncheons, or short articles in newsletters or on websites. None of these takes a lot of effort or money, but over time they can mean a lot.
Well, I hope you enjoy the last few days of summer and a safe and relaxing the Labor Day weekend. I hope to finish off a book I’m reading by Chris Kyle titled “American Sniper”. So far it’s an interesting read from the U.S. military’s most lethal sniper.
Getting Prepared In a Year
Having a long weekend will be great for picking up a few more things we need to be better prepared. Here’s what you can do now to add to your preparedness kit:
From your local Hardware store, pick up the following items:
Things to Do:
Brace (secure) shelves and cabinets around your house.
August 25, 2012 1 Comment
Well I returned to St. Louis late yesterday night following five days of teaching Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Train-the-Trainer and Program Manager courses in Rhode Island. As I mentioned earlier in the week, until now, I hadn’t been to Rhode Island before. I can’t say that any more. While we didn’t get out much to sight see, when we did venture out, the surrounding areas were very nice.
Our classes went very well. All student expectations were met, everyone learned, and final Student Evaluations were quite positive. We had a great group of participants in both classes. A lot of diversity helped keep class discussions interesting for all. One of our students gave us a going-away gift of a bottle of Autocrat Coffee syrup that when added to milk makes a local fave called “Coffee Milk”. I can’t wait to try it. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and weren’t able to try any “hot wieners” which from the way they were described is a natural-casing wiener and is topped with mustard, a special meat sauce, onion, celery salt and served on a steamed bun. It sounds great! One of the Warwick fire guys said when he’s on the truck and they stop by they say “give me six hot wieners and put sneakers on them cause they’re going with me”.
Station Nightclub Fire Memorial
On a somber note, while we were in Warwick this past week, we were reminded about the very tragic Station Nightclub Fire that took place February 20, 2003. It was the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in American history, killing 100 people.
You may remember that the fire was caused by pyrotechnics set off by the tour manager of the evening’s headlining band, Great White, which ignited flammable sound insulation foam in the walls and ceilings surrounding the stage. The fast-moving fire engulfed the club in 5½ minutes. Some 230 people were injured and another 132 escaped uninjured.
Although there were four possible exits, once the fire started most people naturally headed for the front door through which they had entered. The ensuing stampede led to a crush in the narrow hallway leading to that exit, quickly blocking the exit completely and resulting in numerous deaths and injuries among the patrons and staff. Of the 462 in attendance, 100 lost their lives, and about half were injured, either from burns, smoke inhalation, or trampling.
My co-instructor “Brenda” and I took a drive out to the memorial site. When we arrived, we turned off Cowesett Avenue which is a two-lane road and were deeply impressed at what we saw. The location of where the nightclub stood sits at the intersection of Cowesett Avenue and Kulas Street. The asphalt parking lot is small. At the very front of the parking lot adjacent to Cowesett Avenue is what’s left of the old Station nightclub sign. It’s nothing more than a sign frame in a timber-framed planter box. Walking a short distance across the parking lot, you are immediately struck by the number of personalized memorials that have been erected and maintained on the site where the nightclub stood. And then, when you start thinking about the number of people who were there that night and consider how small the property where the building was is, it’s simply amazing. I’ve since gone back and looked at the videos posted on You Tube of that awful night. There just aren’t any words that describe what that must have been like.
I’ve attached some pictures below that include some we took of the memorial site.
Hopefully, we learn from past tragedies like the Station Nightclub fire. I continue to hope that more people will be proactive and take the time to become better prepared for emergencies or disasters that may affect them.
My Swan Song
As I told the class, this was my last teaching assignment for some time. Now, I need to focus on business continuity in my new position. I look forward to the new things I’ll learn as well as the opportunities to use my knowledge and skills to help the company grow and succeed. Who knows, perhaps next year I’ll be able to consider teaching a couple of classes again. So, I hope you’ll continue to read my blogs. There’s a lot going on in business continuity, emergency management, and leadership that we can talk about. If there’s something specific you would like me to address, please comment on this blog and share your ideas with me.
Getting Prepared In a Year
Well we took a little detour to Rhode Island during our Getting Prepared trip, so let me try to get us heading back in the right direction. Here’s what you can do now to add to your preparedness kit:
From your local Grocery store, pick up the following items:
Things to Do:
Make a plan to check on a neighbor who may need help in an emergency.
August 23, 2012 3 Comments
Today we started Day One of our two-day Community Emergency Response team (CERT) Program Manager course. Originally, we were planning for a smaller “intimate” group of students, but like so many other classes we teach, some participants signed up late for the class and so we actually ended up over capacity on Day One; what a great result! Two of the students actually identified themselves as being from the State of Florida.
One of the things I like to do while I’m teaching classes is to look through the daily newspapers and share timely articles that either focus on emergency management, business continuity, or leadership, or are humorous in nature. I struck gold with an article that appeared in the Wednesday August 22, 2012 edition of USAToday. The article is titled “Chuck Norris fact: Biggest body count in ‘Expendables 2′”. I’m not going to wait for the movie to be released on DVD; I want to see this movie in the theater now! In the article, the author identifies several Chuck Norris facts that exist, such as:
Well, this article got me thinking about what influence Chuck Norris might have on things relating to disasters. So here’s my Top 10 List of Chuck Norris Disaster Facts:
Today in class
Today we started helping our participants build a strong foundation for a successful CERT program. We shared with our class that their program will be robust and resilient over the long haul if it’s built upon well-thought out and well-written Goals and Objectives. Now that doesn’t mean good goals and objectives are all they need; quite the contrary. Rather, there are many other factors that go into making a program strong. But, Goals and Objectives are the starting point that everything else is built upon.
From Goals and Objectives we then talked about Program Promotion. A key concept that we addressed was that promotion doesn’t start after the “widget” is built – rather it really begins in the early stages of “widget” development as we are soliciting input from our key stakeholders.
Working with Trainers and Volunteers, are two units that while similar do address two different groups of individuals. I always draw the analogy for my students that both units draw on small business processes where in one case, working with trainers, is similar to hiring employees and the other, working with volunteers, is similar to dealing with customers.
We closed out the day with a discussion about Procuring and Managing Resources. It takes a lot of “stuff” to manage a CERT program and much of that “stuff” is needed for conducting the basic CERT training. How and where do we get this stuff, especially when we may not have a lot of funding?
Tomorrow we’ll wrap up our class with discussions addressing Training and Exercises, Policies and Procedures, Program Evaluation, and Keeping the Program Going. Once class is done, we jump on planes and head for home. And on that note, you may have thought I forgot to include my recurring section about “Getting Prepared in a Year”.
Hope you will check back two days from now on Saturday for my final post from on the Rhode in Rhode Island.
August 22, 2012 Leave a comment
I wanted to get this posted yesterday, but the past two days have been quite interesting and busy. I’m really glad you came back and appreciate your patience.
Today we completed our CERT Train-the-Trainer class here in Warwick, Rhode Island. This afternoon was the first chance since our arrival last Sunday when we could actually leave the hotel and do a little sightseeing. It was a gorgeous afternoon and so we drove south to the shoreline community of Narragansett, Rhode Island. What a picturesque community. Our little outing really helped recharge our batteries.
For the past two days, we started out early and worked hard. Each day was filled with lots of learning and activity. If you have read any of my previous blogs that were written while I was teaching, you may remember that on Days Two and Three of training, we have our participants work through two student teach backs which allows them to demonstrate their instructional capabilities. The material we covered during the past two days included both a review of the Basic CERT class as well as Instructor development. I think most of our students, in all of our classes, really enjoy the instructor development units as evidenced by their evaluations. They always ask for more.
In this class we had a husband and wife couple who live in the northwestern part of the state. When I heard them introduce themselves at the beginning of class on the first day, I thought what they were trying to do with their local volunteer group was a unique story that I could share in my blog.
A couple of years ago several individuals, including “Kathy and Paul” were sitting around talking about emergency management and what they might be able to contribute to help improve collaboration within their local emergency management system. Like most volunteers, they weren’t simply asking for something, rather they wanted to get involved and help. “Ready RI” is the initiative that resulted from that discussion. As they were building the organization they looked at a similar faith-based model that is located in Blanco County, Texas.
“Ready RI” is a small volunteer organization in its infancy. The group’s concept is to bring together well-trained volunteers that are able to be deployed, when requested, into a disaster area to help with tasks that might otherwise be performed by first responders whose efforts could be better utilized on more urgent matters. The group’s functionality mainly lies in the areas of shelter set-up and management, pet shelter, animal rescue, and wild land search and rescue. They see themselves as a volunteer incident support team that can be invited into a community when well-trained volunteers are needed. They currently operate under a policy of not self-deploying.
Today, this small and informal group has no formal affiliation with any state or local government or public safety agency. They are working to incorporate themselves as a 501(c) not-for-profit in order to help with their future funding.
The team currently consists of six members but has been as high as 12. There is an application that new team members must complete for acceptance on the team. Members are required to have Incident Command Training (through ICS 800) as well as Search and Rescue training offered by the Rhode Island State Police.
Like any other citizen volunteer organization, liability is a key issue for Ready RI. Until they are invited in by an organization that has the appropriate liability coverage (i.e. workman’s comp), the group doesn’t have coverage, however they are looking further in to this. As such, when they are invited in they support (work under the direction of) the department/agency that requested them.
I hope that as things move forward with citizen preparedness in Rhode Island, Ready RI will be able to reach out and establish key strategic relationships with state and local departments and agencies throughout the state. Like CERT and the other Citizen Corps programs, this model of trained volunteers who are readily accessible when needed and who can support community needs following a disaster, can be a positive game-changing resource. Best wishes.
Tomorrow, we’ll start our second class which is CERT Program Manager. And, as I regularly do when we are on the road, I’ll leave you with a few pictures from yesterday and today.
August 20, 2012 Leave a comment
Welcome aboard! I’m happy you have joined me on the road. This week we are in Warwick, Rhode Island . Like many of the other terrific locations we’ve traveled to this year, we’re here teaching the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Train-the-Trainer and Program Manager.
The Nation’s Smallest State
The official name of the state is “Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” which was derived from the merger of two colonies. Rhode Island colony was founded near present-day Newport, on what is now commonly called Aquidneck Island, the largest of several islands in Narragansett Bay. Providence Plantations was the name of the colony founded by Roger Williams in the area now known as the City of Providence. The state’s official nickname is the “Ocean State” which is a reference to the state’s geography, since Rhode Island has several large bays and inlets that amount to about 14% of its total area.
Rhode Island was the first of the 13 original colonies to declare independence from British rule, declaring itself independent on May 4, 1776, two months before any other colony. The State was also the last of the thirteen original colonies to ratify the United States Constitution.
This New England state is the smallest in the country. It is also the eighth least populous, but the second most densely populated. And with population density comes greater risk. There are many different types of hazards and disasters, both natural and man-made that can potentially impact residents in the state including:
Should one (or more) of theses hazards occur and evolve into a disaster, individuals who have completed CERT training will be better prepared to respond to and cope with the aftermath. Additionally, if a community wants to supplement its response capability after a disaster, civilians can be recruited and trained as neighborhood, business, and government teams that, in essence, will be auxiliary responders. These groups can provide immediate assistance to victims in their area, organize spontaneous volunteers who have not had the training, and collect disaster intelligence that will assist professional responders with prioritization and allocation of resources following a disaster. CERT training will benefit anyone who takes it. According to the Citizen Corps CERT website , there are 15 listed CERT teams in Rhode Island.
Wow, take a look at PEMA’s web site (click on the link). The PEMA website is a very attractive site with a lot of good information. Pay attention to “Ready Providence”, “Student Tools for Emergency Planning” (STEP) and “’Operation Smart Exit” which are three unique initiatives.
Emergency Volunteer Services (EVS)
The Providence Emergency Volunteer Service (EVS) was formed in 2008 and operates under the direction of the City of Providence’s Emergency Management Agency (PEMA). EVS is the result of the combination of two long-time Providence volunteer groups; the American Red Cross Shelter Group (ARC-SG) and the Providence Community Emergency Response Team (P-CERT).
EVS operates to assist Providence EMA and other municipal departments with manpower and equipment during emergencies and municipal events. EVS volunteers could potentially assist in any of the following activities; Severe Weather Monitoring, Emergency Operations Center Support, Communications, Emergency Preparedness Education, Point of Distribution Management, Traffic Control, and Emergency Scene Lighting.
We have several students in our class who are representing the city of Providence and are volunteers with the city’s Emergency Management Agency. What’s really interesting is that these individuals are involved in an effort through their church to deliver CERT training to community individuals who speak Spanish as their primary language. With the diversity in our communities, having language specific classes is becoming more important to ensuring all citizens have the opportunity to be a “part of the solution’.
The church is the “Nueva Generacion Cristiana” (New Christian Generation Church) which is a small non-denominational Christian church in Providence. Realizing that faith-based organizations have the opportunity to greatly impact community preparedness, several members of the church have received basic CERT training. Looking forward, the church leadership is now working with the local “Coalition RI”, which represents several churches in the surrounding area, to bring preparedness training to their church members as well.
In addition to CERT training, PEMA partnered with Rhode Island Department of Health and offered (for the first time in the United States) the “Mass Antibiotic Dispensing Training Course” delivered entirely in Spanish.
Looking forward into the next year, the church has several initiatives under consideration that taken individually could prove to have a strong impact on the community’s preparedness (resiliency) but when bundled could be an exponential influence. Looking forward the church would like to train 100 individuals in CERT. They would also like to obtain a CERT trailer that could be used both in training and as a deployable resource in disaster response. A third key project under consideration is training a group of Chaplin’s who could go out and render emotional first aid to disaster victims in the community.
As I’ve said before, I think faith-based efforts, like those under-taken by the Nueva Generacion Cristiana, will prove to be significant in the long-run in helping communities become better prepared for disasters. I applaud their forward thinking as they continue to move forward and wish them much success.
So, tomorrow we will continue reviewing our Basic CERT material as well as work on improving our instructor skills. One of the exercises our students will work through is our infamous “teach-backs”. Tomorrow, I’ll also introduce you one of our students who is actively involved with a program called “Ready Rhode Island”. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow. Until then, I’ll leave you with these pictures from class today.