On the road in Holden, Massachusetts

Well, hello from Holden,Massachusetts.  I’m here this week conducting more Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Train-the-Trainer and Program Manager classes for some terrific Massachusetts public safety professionals and citizens.  I’m happy you chose to check-in and see what’s going on here.  I hope you’ll come back each day this week for additional updates not only about our classes, but more importantly about preparedness within this wonderful New England state.

First National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

Before we start talking about our classes though, I wanted to mention that FEMA and NOAA launched the first National Severe Weather Preparedness Week this week (April 22 – 28, 2012).  I’d like to think they did this in recognition of our CERT training (ha, ha).

As the nation marks the first anniversary of one of the largest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are teaming up this week to save lives from severe weather.  The two agencies encourage the public to “know your risk, take action, and be a force of nature” by taking proactive preparedness measures and inspiring others to do the same.

Already this year the country has experienced early and destructive tornado outbreaks in the Midwest and South, including a significant number of tornadoes last weekend. May is the peak season for tornadoes.

To “be a force of nature,” FEMA and NOAA encourage citizens to prepare for extreme weather by following these guidelines:

  • Know your risk: The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Check the weather forecast  regularly and sign up for alerts from your local emergency management officials. Severe weather comes in many forms and your shelter plan should include all types of local hazards.
  • Take action: Pledge to develop an emergency plan based on your local weather hazards and practice how and where to take shelter. Create or refresh an emergency kit for needed food, supplies and medication. Post your plan where visitors can see it. Learn what you can do to strengthen your home or business against severe weather. Obtain a NOAA Weather Radio. Download FEMA’s mobile app so you can access important safety tips on what to do before and during severe weather. Understand the weather warning system and become a certified storm spotter through the National Weather Service.
  • Be a force of nature: Once you have taken action, tell your family, friends, school staff and co-workers about how they can prepare. Share the resources and alert systems you discovered with your social media network. Studies show individuals need to receive messages a number of ways before acting – and you can be one of those sources. When you go to shelter during a warning, send a text, tweet or post a status update so your friends and family know. You might just save their lives, too.
  • For more information on how you can participate, visit www.ready.gov/severeweather

What’s happening in Holden?

As I mentioned above, we’re in Holden, Massachusetts this week.  Holden is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts. It is a residential town with a limited business district and was founded in 1741.  The Town Square (center) was donated by John Hancock, former Governor of Massachusetts. The town was originally a rural farming area. It was officially incorporated as a town on January 9, 1741 and was named after Samuel Holden, a merchant and philanthropist. In 1951, the town of Holden adopted a Selectmen-Town Manager form of government. According to the 2010 census, the population was 17,346.  The town has a total area of 36.2 square miles, of which 35.0 square miles is land and 1.2 square miles, or 3.4%, is water. The landscape is dominated by hills and rivers, including the Quinapoxet River.

The facility we are training in this week is the city’s new Public Safety facility that houses Holden’s Police, Fire, EMS, Ambulance, and combined Dispatch and Emergency Operations Center.  The new facility is located on the site of the former fire station which was renovated at the time of construction for public safety use as well as for use by other Town offices. The fire station includes 3 double-deep apparatus bays and one back-approach apparatus bay, living and sleeping quarters, decon and SCBA areas, turnout gear rooms and storage. The police station includes a 2-bay sally port, prisoner processing area, private interview rooms, and secure evidence processing area. The departments share the public lobby, community room and communication/911 dispatch area.

What we did in class today

Today we started a two-day CERT Program Manager class.  This course prepares participants to establish and sustain an active local CERT program.  Today, we addressed the following core components of a local CERT program and focused our discussion on effective practices for:

Developing Goals, Objectives, and a related strategic plan – Goals important to all programs, both established and new.  Program Managers need to develop both an overall program goal as well as specific objectives necessary to accomplish the goal.  We provided students with a 5-step goal setting process:

1)  Identify community and sponsor needs

2)  Develop draft goal and objectives

3)  Test goal/objectives with sponsors and stakeholders

4)  Periodically evaluate for progress toward achieving objectives, and appropriateness of objectives, and

5)  Develop new goal/objectives as needed

  • Promoting local CERT programs – Why we promote and to whom, the importance of partnerships, program promotion and goal setting, how to initiate and foster partnerships, and the promotional message – what’s do we want others to know and how will we communicate that?
  • Orienting, managing and retaining CERT members
  • Recruiting, funding, managing, and retaining CERT trainers
  • Acquiring and managing program resources – including identifying physical resource needs, budgeting and funding, and managing data.   One of the resources that a CERT program has is information. Good data and information are essential support for almost all aspects of the program. That information needs to be collected and maintained in an organized manner.

Well, it’s late and we’ve got a busy day tomorrow.  I hope you’ll check back with us tomorrow and throughout the remainder of the week.

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4 Responses to On the road in Holden, Massachusetts

  1. kb3juv says:

    Would have been nice to know about that class! It’s not too far down the road. Mass and NH don’t do a very good job of advertising classes.

    • Tim Bonno says:

      Sorry to hear that. We have room. Train-the-Trainer starts Wednesday-Friday. Would love to have you join us if you have the time. Best wishes

      • Rebecca Evanoff says:

        Hi Tim!!!
        you know you are in ‘my town’ right? somehow after taking your EMI TtT I was never put on the MA trainer roster – let me know if you want to go to dinner while you’re here!
        ~Rebecca Evanoff

      • Tim Bonno says:

        Rebecca:

        I’m sorry .. I didn’t remember you are from here. If you’d like, I have the guy here from MEMA and I can give him your e-mail address to contact you abut getting on the MEMA Trainer Roster. Appreciate the dinner offer, but need to pass as I’m tied with work I brought with me. Gotta earn a buck if I can. Listen, we are over at the new Holden Public Safety building. If you have time and want to come by, please feel free. We start Train-the-Trainer (T3) tomorrow at 8:30A. If you know someone who wants to take the T3, we have room.
        Best wishes and stay safe.
        Tim

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