Coming to you live from Austin, Texas

Well, here we are in Austin which is the capital city of Texas.  The state that gave us   The state that gave us “Walker Texas Ranger”!  Glad y’all came back.

I’m here this week with two other terrific instructors whom I’ve worked with previously and we are working with folks from various regions and communities throughout the state to help them to become, or be better, CERT instructors.  Fortunately for us (or perhaps unfortunately for us) many of the students in class have a strong instructional background.  That’s good in that they’ll have lots of experience to draw on during class.  However, from our vantage point (that of an instructor), teaching to your peers is always the most challenging.  But, I can say we are up for the challenge and look forward to the discussions we will share over the next several days.

We are here this week at the invitation of the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM).  When they say everything is bigger in Texas, it’s true.  Even their risk is big.  When you take a look at what risks and threats the State of Texas faces, it includes everything except volcanos.  From hurricanes, to tornados, winter storms, summer drought, Texans have it all.  And let’s not disregard wildfires, earthquake, and tsunami.  Tsunami? Really?  In Texas?  Yes, remember Texas has the Gulf of Mexico and as such, tsunamis have occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1991, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake in Costa Rica produced a six foot high tsunami that flooded nearly 1,000 feet inland on the Caribbean side of the country. The Caribbean also has a number of active submarine volcanoes and fault systems that are capable of producing earthquakes large enough to generate tsunamis. The Gulf is also at risk from very large tsunamis that originate in the Atlantic Ocean, like the one produced by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. There are no authoritative estimates of the extent of the risk that these hazards may pose to states with coastlines on the Gulf of Mexico.

With all of these potential threats, citizens across the state are taking preparedness seriously.  If you go to the CERT website, you’ll see that at the time I wrote this blog, Texas was second only to California as far as the number of established CERT teams in the state.  California has 288 and Texas has 103.  Heck, my state of Missouri only has 74!  What’s up with that?  I remember several years ago as we were developing corporate CERT teams at AT&T, Dallas, Texas was one of the first cities to agree to work with us as they were just beginning to roll out their new CERT program.  We worked with the Dallas Office of Emergency Management  and produced a great CERT class that included members of the community.

One of the interesting stories going around currently goes back to earlier this month when the state hosted its annual emergency management conference in San Antonio.  It was during the conference that tornados pounded the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  In a meeting hall of the Convention Center, 275 miles south of the devastation — municipal and state agency leaders put tables, chairs and computers together, quickly assembling a mobile version of Texas’ emergency operations center.  Read this article for more on the story.

So this week, we are here to teach both the CERT Train-the-Trainer and Program manager classes.  Yesterday morning we spent a good deal of time getting to know each other and talking about expectations.  Many said they wanted to learn what was in the latest revision of CERT.  Many said, they wanted to learn how to improve their instructional capabilities, and several others were interested in developing or growing their CERT programs in their respective communities.  Like the other classes we teach across this great country, we (instructors) have the opportunity to bring this information to our students, deliver in a positive, and often fun, environment, and through facilitated discussion, look for opportunities in which citizen preparedness, CERT specifically, can grow in this great state.

Wow, I love what I get to do!

I hope you’ll come back and follow along with us this week as we continue to train and maybe even explore the Austin area.  Hey, what’s this about bats that I hear about?

Stay safe!


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