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 ( )

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


Chuck Norris Disaster Facts

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:

  • Chuck Norris had a staring contest with the sun — and won
  • There is no chin under Chuck Norris’ beard, just another fist
  • They wanted to put Chuck Norris on Mt. Rushmore, but the granite wasn’t tough enough for his beard
  • Norris is bitten by a cobra and, after five agonizing days, the cobra dies

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:

  1. Chuck Norris is so cool that heat waves don’t exist where he is.
  2. What’s in Chuck Norris’ Emergency Preparedness Kit?  A beard trimmer.  That’s all he needs
  3. When a tornado formed, Chuck Norris grabbed its tail and pulled it out of the sky
  4. Chuck Norris’ Emergency Preparedness Plan – A roundhouse kick
  5. Chuck Norris hit a guy so hard once that when he hit the ground seismologists thought it was an earthquake
  6. In the last great flood, boats were having a hard time rescuing people.  Chuck Norris walked in and saved everyone
  7. When Chuck Norris teaches CERT, his students graduate with black belts
  8. Chuck Norris’ disaster mitigation strategy – stare down the risk into submission
  9. Chuck Norris-style CPR – one side-kick to the chest
  10. A Category 5 hurricane was about to come on shore in Texas – until Chuck Norris sneezed and blew it back out to sea 

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.

Day One of Training In North Carolina

Wow, while I have been here in North Carolina enjoying “cool” 90+ degree weather, back home in St. Louis, we are leaving our mark on history.  My friend “Jim” at the National Weather Service in Weldon Springs posted the following message today on Facebook …

Congratulations folks! We did it. Lambert Field has already hit 106 degrees this afternoon. Thus the summer of 2012 has broken the record for most days of 105 or higher: 11. The old record was 10 set in 1934. We tied the warmest morning in St. Louis history this morning with a low of 86, and now set a new record of days of 105 or higher. Quite a summer and it’s not done yet!

Getting Started

Early this morning we started Day One of our CERT Program Manager training.  We are conducting our class in the “Situation Room” (aka Emergency Operations Center (EOC)) at the North Carolina National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters in Raleigh.  Patty Moore, who is the North Carolina State Citizen Corps Coordinator, opened the class.

Joining Patty with his opening remarks, Mr. Mike Sprayberry, Deputy Director of Emergency Management, told participants that the Division felt honored to have our class taking place for the next two days.  He said from the state’s perspective, volunteers are really the backbone of Emergency Management.  Mr. Sprayberry shared with the class how in other parts of the world, he’s observed that people don’t have the same sense of “volunteerism” as we do here in the United States.  In other parts of the world, people feel as though if they do something for others they should be paid for it.  Here in the United States, it’s just the opposite.

North Carolina is very proud if its CERT Program.  The state ranks about 15th across the country with the number of registered CERT teams (51).  Mike closed by encouraging participants to soak in the training that they were about to receive and then go back to their communities and do something with it – teach others to be prepared..

Applicability of Concepts

While the class we are teaching is specific to developing and managing a community CERT program, much of the material we are covering in the class is equally applicable to other projects and programs in both the public and private sectors.  The following is a good example of this.

Vision, Goals, and Objectives

The first unit we covered this morning was focused on establishing a program Vision, Goals, and Objectives.  The way that we describe our program vision is by creating a goal for the program.  We have to have that goal as a starting point so we can later determine whether we have made any progress.

Sometimes a goal is called a “Mission Statement”.  Often it will describe what you will provide to whom and in what geographic area.  The program goal should be a clear and succinct statement about the program’s purpose for existence.

In order to reach our goal, we must develop objectives.  Objectives are specific activities that the program will undertake to accomplish the goal.  Objectives describe our intended future results – specific things that we will accomplish.

When we write our objectives, we need to write them so they are SMART.  SMART is an acronym (and methodology) that’s been used in the Human Resources (HR) arena for some time.  For objectives to be effective, they must be SMART:

  • Simple (or specific): It is clear and well-defined
  • Measurable: There is a way to measure progress toward achieving that goal.
  • Achievable: The resources available to accomplish the objective.
  • Realistic: The goal can be accomplished within reasonable parameters (e.g., time, cost, resource expenditure).
  • Timely: The objective includes a due date or a time when it will be accomplished.

The next thing we discussed was how to set program goals.  We introduced a simple five steps in the goal setting process:

  1. Identify community needs and sponsor needs
  2. Develop draft goal and objectives
  3. Test the goal and objectives with sponsors and stakeholders
  4. Periodically evaluate:
    • Progress toward achieving objectives
    • Appropriateness of objectives
  5. Develop new goal and objectives as needed

This is an iterative process. Periodically the program must be re-assessed  to ensure its goals are kept in alignment with the needs of the community.  That means going back to Step 1 and repeating the goal setting process. The overall program goal probably will not change, but specific goals should be reviewed regularly and updated as needed.

SWOT Analysis

Lastly, we shared with our class that strategic planning of this type is not very complicated, but it is also not a skill that most Program Managers have.  However, there are lots of resources available that can be of great support to a Program Manager including a SWOT Analysis where you specify an opportunity and identify the internal and external factors that are helpful or harmful to making the opportunity a reality:

  • Strengths – Positive internal factors within your control.  Things you could build on.
  • Weaknesses – Negative internal factors within your control. Things you should restrict or improve.
  • Opportunities – Positive external factors outside your control. Things you could build on.
  • Threats – Negative external factors outside your control. Things you should try to minimize.

Knowing where a program is going and how it is going to get there is critical to overall success.  Goals and objectives are the tools we use to lay out the program’s future.  They are an important aspect of managing existing programs as well beginning new ones.  Therefore, we have to develop an overall goal and several objectives using the goal setting process.

And we closed out the day with a few comments from Rudy Rudisill Jr. who became director of the Law Enforcement division of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety this past January 2012.  He oversees the operations of Alcohol Law Enforcement, Butler Public Safety and State Capitol Police.

Mr. Rudsill was very complimentary to the 30 participants in our class representing 20 counties from around the state.  He encouraged the class to look for ways in which to improve the synchronization, collaboration, and communication that takes place between the local communities and the state.  As we are currently in the middle of Hurricane season, the more organizations (like CERT) that we get involved at the local level , the better.

OK, so let me close out with a few pictures from our class.  Plan to come back on July 27 for my last blog posting from this class and a special announcement for next week.

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Last day at EMI

Well, today was the last day of class here at FEMA EMI in Emmittsburg, MD.  It’s been a fantastic week.  We’ve had a terrific group of students from all over the United States.  They came to class on Day One ready to learn and eager to share information and experiences.  At the end of the week we saw that many new friendships were created.  These in turn will fuel the power of networking.  Students will now have a supportive network of contacts that they can reach out to in the future for help, guidance and support.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, I had the pleasure of working with three great instructors this week.  Their classroom management, instructional delivery, and subject matter knowledge was superb.  I learned a great deal from them and expect to be a better instructor because of them.
Today, I instructed Unit 9 – Program Evaluation
Like any other program you or I may manage, a CERT program needs to be evaluated periodically to determine how well it is able to accomplish its program goals.  During the program evaluation, the Program Manager has to methodically collect pertinent information about the program or some aspect of the program in order to make the necessary, and sometimes major, decisions about its continued implementation.
Students learned that “evaluation” is the process by which the Program Manager is able to identify appropriate changes and continuous improvements that will keep the CERT program fully functional.  In order to understand the process we discussed the following four key topics:
  • The importance of evaluating a CERT program
  • What to evaluate in a CERT program and how
  • Interpreting and analyzing evaluation data
  • Creating a Program Report

Don’t forget the Fredrick County Fire and Rescue Museum

The Frederick County Fire & Rescue Museum

One place I didn’t get to share with you is the new Fredrick County Fire and Rescue Museum    The museum officially opened back in April 2011.  Visitors to the museum can learn about the history of the Frederick County Fire & Rescue Service and see artifacts, pictures, and apparatus that tell the story of the individual companies and the many members of the county fire and rescue service.

The museum is located about a half-mile up the street from EMI.  I would have liked to have seen the museum, but unfortunately, it’s only open from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM on Saturdays (or by appointment).  I guess the pictures from the website will have to do.  Check it out.

Going home tomorrow

Well, we leave early tomorrow morning.  I’ll post one more blog tomorrow evening to close out the trip.  Then, I’ll return to my regular postings on the 1st and 15th of each month.  I hope you’ll check back tomorrow.