Going to Gettysburg

One of the great enjoyments I get from teaching is the opportunity to meet new people and create new friendships. Typically, when we have our classes here on campus at the National Emergency Training Center (NETC) in Emmitsburg, Maryland we will have about 50 students in class. The diversity of the class is always interesting, and when I say diversity I’m referring to the geographic areas students come from, their career backgrounds, as well as their cultural differences.

We’ve had the pleasure of teaching classes with students from just about every state in the United States including Hawaii, rural communities as well as metropolitan, tribal, and deaf and hard of hearing. With all that diversity I didn’t think I’d ever be surprised by who might attend one of our classes, but that changed on this trip.

Meet Joe Farago

We generally try to meet and greet our students as they arrive to class on the first day. Unfortunately, we had two students already in their seats as we arrived to our classroom. Much to my surprise, when I walked up to Joe and he introduced himself to me, I was pleasantly surprised he is a fellow Michigander. He shared with me that he has a background in the fire service and is living a great life with summers spent in Michigan and winters in Florida. It wasn’t until later the next day before I learned a tad more about my new friend Joe.

The next day, one of our students came up to me and my co-instructor and said “Do you know who he is?” and proceeded to show as an infomercial on You Tube. It turns out Joe has quite an acting background. Along with infomercials, Joe has had parts on the old “Seinfeld” television series as well as in the movie “Terminator”

Joe was a genuinely nice guy who was great to have in class. I don’t know if our paths will ever cross again, but I feel fortunate to have met him.


Today we had a day off from teaching as we are between classes. With my co-instructors Joe and Wilson, we took the day and went to Gettysburg to visit the Civil War battlefields. It was a picture perfect day to be out sightseeing. Sunny and warm, and not a lot of people.

Gettysburg is only a short 20-mile trip from Emmitsburg, so it’s not far. Once we arrived I saw two sides to our national treasure. On one side it reminded me of tourist places much like Branson, MO, Sault Ste. Marie, MI, or Niagara Falls. Lots of tee-shirt shops and fudge shops. One of the unique offerings here are the ghost tours that are offered at night. No – we didn’t go on a ghost tour!

On the other side is the vast countryside filled with monuments and markers recognizing who fought in the Civil War and where they fought. Reading about the Civil War in school certainly doesn’t prepare one for how large the battlefield really was once you see it. It was truly amazing and humbling.

I’m including a few pictures to share.

I hope you come back in the next couple of days because I’ll have more to share with you. Until then, best wishes!


Hello again from the National Emergency Training Center

This week I’m back at the National Emergency Training Center (NETC) in Emmitsburg, MD. If you’ve read some of my past blogs, you’ll know that this is “home base” for National Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training. Even though this isn’t my “first rodeo” at the NETC, I still find it an honor whenever I get the opportunity to teach here. There’s so much history in this region of the United States as well as on the campus that houses the NETC. Throughout the week, I hope to share a few of the stories and sites that make this such a special place to come to.

The campus

The NETC is home to both the National Fire Academy (NFA) and the Emergency Management Institute (EMI). The 107-acre campus was the original site of Saint Joseph’s Academy, a Catholic school for girls from 1809 until 1973. It was purchased by the U.S. Government in 1979 for use as the NETC.

The National Fire Academy (NFA) is one of two schools in the United States operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the NETC. Operated and governed by the United States Fire Administration (USFA) as part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the NFA is the country’s pre-eminent federal fire training and education institution. The original purpose of the NFA as detailed in a 1973 report to Congress was to “function as the core of the Nation’s efforts in fire service education—feeding out model programs, curricula, and information.

The NFA shares its campus with the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) operated by the Directorate of Preparedness branch of FEMA.

To support the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA’s goals by improving the competencies of the U.S. officials in Emergency Management at all levels of government to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the potential effects of all types of disasters and emergencies on the American people.

EMI is the emergency management community’s flagship training institution, and provides training to Federal, State, local, tribal, volunteer, public, and private sector officials to strengthen emergency management core competencies for professional, career-long training.

EMI trains more than 2 million students annually. Training delivery includes residential onsite training; offsite delivery in partnership with emergency management training organizations, colleges, universities; and technology-based mediums to conduct individual training courses for emergency management personnel across the Nation.

National Fallen Firefighters Memorial

The National Fallen Firefighter Memorial on the NETC campus

The National Fallen Firefighter Memorial on the NETC campus

On campus, there are several memorials including the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial. The United States Congress created the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation to lead a nationwide effort to remember America’s fallen firefighters. Since 1992, the tax-exempt, nonprofit Foundation has developed and expanded programs to honor our fallen fire heroes and assist their families and coworkers.

A grant from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance supports programs for survivors of fallen firefighters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency partners with the Foundation to sponsor many of the National Memorial Weekend activities.

Each October, the Foundation sponsors the official national tribute to all firefighters who died in the line of duty during the previous year. Thousands attend the weekend activities held at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The weekend features special programs for survivors and coworkers along with moving public ceremonies.

…. so, come on back tomorrow and I’ll share additional stories about the CERT Train-the-Trainer class we are teaching as well as other interesting sites on and around the campus.

Aloha and Mahalo from Volcano Hawaii

Well, it’s hard to believe but I’m back in St. Louis as we wrapped up a great week of training in Volcano, Hawaii. The trip home was long to say the least.

A little bit of sightseeing

Picking up where I last left off, last Thursday afternoon we finished class a little earlier than planned and so Wilson and I hopped in the car and did a little sightseeing. We drove over to see the Thurston Lava Tubes which is a 500-year old lava cave located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Lava caves like this are formed when a river of lava gradually builds solid walls and a ceiling. When the lava flow stops and the last of it passes downhill, a cave is formed. These caves can be a few feet high and only yards long, or they can stretch for miles with high ceilings. After walking through the cave and the surrounding rain forest, we drove down to see where the lava flows went into the ocean. Along the way we passed several lave fields that dated back to the early 1970’s. Finally, when we reached the ocean and the blue water of the Pacific was beautiful.

Friday was our final day in class. For me personally, it started off with a wonderful six-mile run along Crater Rim Road. As I ran past the Volcano Observatory and then the open field with the steam vents I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d ever get the opportunity to return to this place and see more of God’s wonders. I sure hope so.

Polynesian culture

We started class off with another unique opportunity. As I mentioned in previous blogs this week, our class was very diverse. Not only did we have attendees from the Hawaiian Islands, but also from Guam, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. One of the gentlemen from Samoa was actually with us two years ago when we were first in Honolulu Hawaii. In talking with him about the Samoan culture, we agreed there are many similarities with the Native American culture. I explained that in the Native American classes we’ve taught, we usually have someone from their tribe open the class with a prayer in their native language. Along those lines, he shared with me that Samoan tradition is similar and he agreed to open our last day of class with a morning prayer in his native Samoan language. What a great way to start our last day of class.

Another cultural item we learned about was that in the various Polynesian cultures, it’s customary to give your guests a gift. After our morning prayer and before we actually started class, Wilson and I were both presented with blue conference bags with the logo of Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense. Inside were homeland security/emergency management related gifts that students from each of the regional areas brought with them to give to us. What a surprise! I’ll proudly display these in my home.

This trip will go down as one of those life experiences I won’t ever forget. My good friend and teaching buddy Wilson and I made many new friends during this trip, and were able to see “up close and personal” one of the greatest natural disaster risks we have – a live volcano.

Well, let me close by sharing some final pictures from our trip.  I hope you enjoy them.

“Mahalo” to all of you who read my blogs during the trip and I hope you’ll come back starting July 28th for a new adventure.

Training in Hawaii Continues


Well, the past four days have been spectacular here in Volcano, Hawaii.

From a training perspective, we ended our CERT Train-the-Trainer class yesterday. Wilson and I shot a short video of our class that we look forward to sharing with our upcoming class at FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (FEMA EMI) when we are back on campus at the end of July.  As I mentioned in a past blog this week, our class is very diverse. Most of our class has stayed with us as we began our CERT Program Manager class earlier today.

Hawaiian Hospitality

Similar to the infamous Thursday night BBQ’s we have at the FEMA National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland, a few of our students took it upon themselves to put together a class BBQ for our entire class. What a warm and friendly networking opportunity everyone enjoyed. One of the highlights of this trip will be the friendships we’ve created. The food that was prepared last night was amazing. The menu included great tasting beef steak rubbed with course Hawaiian salt, Char Siu pork, a Portuguese sausage, smoked sausage, and poke which is a raw salad served as an appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine. There were three kinds of Poke – Ahi poke which is made with yellowfin tuna, a spicy King crab poke, and another that wasn’t spicy. Both the food and the friendship were outstanding.

My Crater Rim morning

This morning stated out at 5:30 a.m. with a morning hike on the Crater Rim Trail up to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. While it may not have started out as what some might call a “bucket list” opportunity, it sure turned into one of those moments in life I’ll always remember. The weather was the same as it’s been since we got here …. sunny, cool, and windy – trade winds are blowing across Hawaii, and the sun was so bright!

While I started out on a trail that meandered through fields and vegetation, I ended up right smack dab on the ridge (edge) of the crater looking down. What an awesome view! As I went further along the trail, the elevation continued to increase. The trail ended at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. From there, I ended up having a short two-mile run back to the Kilauea Military Camp (KMC). I’m including some pictures from my morning walk.

Lunchtime presentation – Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm )

At lunch yesterday we were treated to another special guest speaker. Talmadge Magno is the Chief Ranger of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. His presentation to our class addressed “Emergency Operations” at the park and specifically addressed his unit which is Visitor and Resource Protection. I was surprised to learn just how broad a reach his unit has, including:

  • Special events
  • Wildland fires (including structural fires)
  • Pacific Area Communications Center (ie dispatch)
  • Law Enforcement
  • Aviation
  • Technical Rescue – yes, people need to be rescued when they go places they shouldn’t!

So, tomorrow is our last day. It’s been a terrific experience and I look forward with sharing the remainder of our trip with you soon. Remember to check back.

A beautiful morning for a run.

A beautiful morning for a run.


This is probably my favorite picture.  Smoke from the crater and this lone tree.

This is probably my favorite picture. Smoke from the crater and this lone tree.

I thought this Ohi'a Lehua was really pretty

I thought this Ohi’a Lehua was really pretty

What a view!

What a view!

The beginning of the Crater Rim Trail

The beginning of the Crater Rim Trail

Class networking BBQ

Class networking BBQ

Day Two CERT Training in Hawaii and Volcanos

In my blog yesterday, I mentioned we are at the Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The park and camp are located at a elevation of 4,000 feet above sea level. I tell you this because the weather here is so different that what you might expect for a tropical area. The last couple of nights the temperature dipped down to the mid to upper 40’s (F; 7+ C) and during the day the temperatures have been in the low 70’s (F; 21+ C). Our host while we are here told us we are on the one Hawaiian island where they actually get snow in the higher mountain elevations! Snow in Hawaii? Not the Hawaii you would expect.

Running by volcanic steam vents

This morning I got up and went out for my morning run. It was spectacular. The sun was just starting to rise and as I started out from the camp I headed east on the Crater Rim Drive toward the park’s main gate. About a mile into my run I came across a large field that has several steam vents. Here rainwater sinks through the ground and is warmed by rocks which carry heat from the lava below. Hot water then rises through fissures to condense in the chilled air. It was really something to see.

Our class

Day Two of our CERT Train the Trainer class went really well today. While most of our time was spent review the core Basic CERT material, our primary student activity was their first “teach back”. This exercise allows students to stand before their classmates as an instructor and apply the training (skills) they’ve learned so far and actually conducted a very small section of material in our class. Past experience has validated that students really enjoy and benefit from the experience. And what’s more, not only do our students learn, but so do we as instructors.

Today one of our students demonstrated a wonderful way to help determine if you have an adequately sized fire extinguisher to put out a fire. He referred to this as his “Yes, No, Maybe” check. Basically it’s a way to size a fire extinguisher against the burning item. If the extinguisher is as big or bigger than the item burning, then yes, you probably have a large enough extinguisher to put out the fire. If the extinguisher is smaller than the burning object, then No you don’t. And of course, there’s always Maybe’s in life.

Lunchtime presentation – Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (NVO; www.hvo.wr.usgs.gov/ )

One of the key motivators for us to come to Hawaii to teach was the fact that we were going to be at the Hawaiian Volcano Park and we’d get an up close and personal presentation and tour of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Dr. Jim Kauahikaua, joined our class today and provided a terrific overview (and slide show) of Hawaii’s volcanos as well as the island’s earthquakes. Jim is the Scientist-In-Charge of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Later this evening, Jim met us at the Observatory and provided us with a “behind the scenes” tour of the Observatory.

Tomorrow, we’ll wrap up our CERT Train-the-Trainer class. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow to see what else we are getting in to in the wonderful and interesting location. Until then, I hope you enjoy these pictures that I took today.

We're here!  The sign at the entry of the Observatory

We’re here! The sign at the entry of the Observatory

The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Looking out on to the crater

Looking out on to the crater

The crater

The crater

Inside the Observatory

Inside the Observatory

A view looking into the crater

A view looking into the crater

In image looking down into the creater looking at the lava flow.

In image looking down into the creater looking at the lava flow.

That's Dr. Jim Kauahikaua, Scientist-in-Charge at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

That’s Dr. Jim Kauahikaua, Scientist-in-Charge at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

An even better picture at night

An even better picture at night

A nice nighttime glow picture of the crater

A nice nighttime glow picture of the crater

Aloha from Hawai’i

Aloha from Hawai’i

Looking at my last blog, it’s been a while since I last wrote about anything. I guess I just haven’t had much to say? What? Well, I thought I’d jump back into blogging and take some time and share with you some of my experiences that take place this week while I’m “on assignment” in the Hawaii National Park in Volcano, HI.

I’m here with my good friend and co-instructor “Wilson”. Wilson and I have taught with each other many times over the years and were originally invited to teach CERT Train-the-Trainer and Program Manager classes in Honolulu, Hawaii two years ago. I guess we did a pretty good job because we were invited back!

Getting here

Wow, the trip here was long. I started my day at 3:00A on Sunday morning (St. Louis time) and when all travel was done, I was finally in my room ready for bed at 10:30P Sunday night …. Hawaii time. It was a long day. I travel from St. Louis, to Las Vegas, to San Francisco, to Honolulu, to Hilo. Once we landed, we still had a 45 minute drive to where we are staying. Thank you Southwest, United, and Hawaiian Airlines.

Kilauea Military Camp (KMC; www.kilaueamilitarycamp.com/ )

One of my unique motivators to come here was that our class is being conducted at the Kilauea Military Camp (KMC). While I’ll write more about the camp later this week, let me tell you KMC is considered one of the military’s finest vacation gems. It’s located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and sits amidst spectacular scenery, natural wonders, and cultural treasures including the marvels of the active Kilauea Volcano. The camp is open to all active and retired military, members of the Reserve and National Guard, active and retired Department of Defense civilian employees including Coast Guard Civilians, dependents and sponsored guests. What a GREAT facility!

A great diverse class

This week we have 32 attendees in our class. Most are from the Hawaiian Islands. A few are here from Guam, others are here from American Samoa and some have come as far away as Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands. Talking about a long trip!

Many of our attendees are first responders representing law enforcement, the fire service, or emergency management. We have four members of Team Rubicon (www.teamrubiconusa.org/ ) which is an organization that unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. We also have, several attendees representing education.

Lunchtime presentation – NOAA/NWS

Each day this week, attendees will be treated to daily presentations from local industry experts. Today, we welcomed Mr. Kevin Kodama. Kevin is the Senior Service Hydrologist with the Weather Forecast Office in Honolulu, HI. Kevin gave a terrific presentation about “Tropical Cyclones – Impacts & CPHC Products”.

OK, well that’s it for today.  I think it’s a good start for a first day day back.  Check back tomorrow and I’ll have more to share with you from the KMC and Volcano, HI.


Becoming a CERT Program Manager, and other Lincoln stuff

Yesterday we wrapped up our CERT Train-the-Trainer class and today we started our CERT Program Manager class.

For those not familiar with the CERT Program Manager course, it prepares participants to establish and sustain an active local CERT program back in their community.  During the two-day class we incorporate both lecture and practical exercises addressing the core components of a local CERT program.  At the end of each unit, participants document their thoughts and ideas on effective practices in a workbook for:

  • Developing local CERT program goals and a related strategic plan
  • Promoting local CERT program
  • Orienting, managing, and retaining CERT members
  • Recruiting, funding, managing, and retaining CERT trainers
  • Acquiring and managing program resources
  • Delivering and managing effective training and exercises
  • Developing policies and procedures for operating a local CERT program
  • Evaluating and sustaining the program

When participants complete the class, they can then use their workbook to move from Point A to Point B in starting or improving their CERT Program.  At the beginning of these classes I tell participants that being a CERT Program Manager is quite similar to running a small business.  And after having seen many CERT programs start, grow, and then crash and fade away, I encourage students to invest the needed time and effort to fully research and develop these administrative processes in an effort to better ensure long-term success, rather than simply jumping in and hoping for the best.

Revisiting the State Capital

On an earlier break in the action today, I walked over to see some more of the State capital.  Today, I chose to enter the Capital from the west entrance as I had been told by one of our students that there was a great statue of Abraham Lincoln there.  While as a kid growing up, I enjoyed learning about Lincoln in school, it wasn’t until I read “Lincoln on Leadership” by Donald Phillips that I became a bigger fan.  Phillips’ book is a must read for anyone interested in leadership and management.

The statue is located on the West Mall (known as the Lincoln Mall).  The statue was created by Chester French who also created the monumental statue of a seated Lincoln in Washington D.C. at the Lincoln Memorial.

I also had the opportunity to go up to the 14th floor of the Capital and venture outside on a very windy ledge to snap of few pictures of the Lincoln horizon.  It was quite a sight, and I’ve included a few pictures for your enjoyment.

Another really neat thing I found out about at the Nebraska State capital is that there’s a Peregrine falcon nest on the 18th floor of the building.

Lastly, in an earlier post I mentioned that on top of the Capital is a bronze statue of the “Sower” created by Lee Lawrie”.  The Sower faces northwest (most of Nebraska is north and west of Lincoln).  While it may not big at first from the ground, he is 19 feet tall, perched atop a 13 foot-tall base, on top of the dome, which is 400 feet above the ground. He can be seen for nearly 20 miles.

He stands barefoot and without hat, sowing seeds in the most primitive manner. He is symbolic of the state of Nebraska as a major agricultural state. He is not merely sowing seeds of grain, but something much greater. He is the symbol of sowing the seeds of agriculture, life, hope and prosperity.

150 year Celebration of the Battle of Gettysburg

And speaking of Lincoln, both the city and the President, I’m reminded that from June 28 through July 7, 2013 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania they are celebrating the 150-year anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War and is often described as the war’s turning point.  Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade’s Army of the Potomac defeated attacks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, ending Lee’s invasion of the North.

So you might be thinking, “Tim, what’s the tie back to Lincoln, Nebraska and CERT, to the Battle of Gettysburg?”  Well, that’s a great question, and here’s the hook.  FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI) is located about 15 miles away from Gettysburg, PA.  Students that come to EMI to attend classes, often take time to drive over and visit the battlefield grounds.  It’s that simple.

Here’s some travel pics for you to look at

Welcome to our CERT Program Manager class.  Hey, who is that hansome instructor?

Welcome to our CERT Program Manager class. Hey, who is that hansome instructor?

The Nebraska State Capital

The Nebraska State Capital

The Lincoln statue

The Lincoln statue

A great view from the 14th floor...

A great view from the 14th floor…

... and another view ...

… and another view …

and another.

and another.

Not sure which state building this is, but I thought the statuary was interesting.

Not sure which state building this is, but I thought the statuary was interesting.


I’m Coming Back – Stay Tuned

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.

Peoria IL, Balloons, and Concession Stand Duty

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 ….

Peoria, Illinois

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.

The Great Forest Park Balloon Race 

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.

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CERT Videos

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!

The CERTurian 

CERT Buddy 

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:

  • Canned meat (tuna, chicken, ravioli, chili, beef stew, Spam, corned beef, etc.)
  • Can vegetables (green beans, kernel corn, peas, beets, kidney beans, carrots, etc.)
  • Box of large heavy-duty garbage bags
  • Kleenex
  • A box of quick-energy snacks (like granola bars or raisins)

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.

UPDATED – Closing out from FEMA EMI

UPDATE – Yesterday was our travel day from FEMA EMI to home.  I posted the blog below early yesterday morning just before leaving the campus.  Following the bus trip from the campus to EMI, we normally have a few hours to sit around BWI airport waiting for our flight.  But yesterday we took advantage of a great opportunity and I wanted to share that with you.

My friend Scott, who I’ve mentioned in previous blogs was also at EMI this week as a student in another class and so we found ourselves traveling home together on the same fight.  After getting to the airport and checking our luggage in, we had a little over three hours and so decided to take the light rail train into downtown Baltimore and see “Sailabration“  that was taking place in the harbor.

“Star-Spangled Sailabration”, is an international parade of more than 40 tall ships and naval vessels.  These ships sailed into Baltimore for the national launch of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner.   “Star-Spangled Sailabration” featured free tours of the ships, waterside festivities, an airshow featuring the Blue Angels, and the world-premiere of “Overture for 2012,” composed by Philip Glass.  Unfortunately, we could only spend about an hour down at the site, but we did see some terrific ships while we were there.

We did run in to a transportation snag on the way back to the airport, but made it back in time.  As it turned out, we had fun flying home on a Southwest plane sponsored by SeaWorld and painted like Shamu.  What a great end to a great week of training

I’ve added additional pictures of “Sailabration” and “Shamu” to the slide show below.  I hope you enjoy them.  What follows was my original post from yesterday.

Well, we’ve reached the end of another week and closed out another great training class here at the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) in Emmitsburg, Maryland.  I find it interesting that while I’ve had the opportunity to teach the CERT curriculum many times this year, it has never been boring or stale.  Each class has brought a new group of students with their own unique stories and experiences.  Often, the locations are new, but even when I return to EMI, it’s always exciting due to the pure beauty of the campus and the history that surrounds the region.  And the instructors I get the opportunity to work with are the best.  They are very knowledgeable, have well-honed presenter skills and they demonstrate great concern for their students.  Working with my fellow instructors has helped me to improve my own instructor skills thereby becoming a better instructor.  Thanks to each one of them!

This week we had 25 students join us from all over the United States, and of course six of them alone were representing South Carolina (see my blog from earlier this week).  There was a lot of positive energy and wonderful ideas generated this week in our small class.  My hope for this class, as with all my classes, is that each student will return home and use their knowledge and skills to grow new programs or strengthen existing programs that will train others in the community how to become prepared for emergencies and disasters.  I wish each one much success!

Finally, let’s close this out with a few pictures from the week.

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Getting Prepared In a Year

I hope you are finding this section of my blog helpful and that you are using it to either build your preparedness from the ground floor up, or you are using it to enhance what you have already done.  If you have other tips you would like to pass on, please use the “Comment” function on my blog and drop me a note.  I’ll include your ideas in a future blog.

So, continuing on, here’s what you can do now to add to your preparedness kit:

From your local store, pick up the following items:

•             Waterproof portable plastic container (with a lid) to store important papers.

•             A portable am/fm radio (battery operated; and get extra batteries)

•             Also, blankets or a sleeping bag for each family member

Things to Do:

Make photocopies of your important papers and store safely (perhaps in your waterproof portable plastic container mentioned above?)