Tuesday, September 5, 2017

I'v got initials after my name now!

I've been honored to be able to give a presentation (or two) and/or serve as m/c at every one of Civil Air Patrol's National PAO Academies since the first in 2008. I've especially enjoyed the Q&A, networking, and handing out Balsem Awards to our very deserving PAO superstars. 
Defending my capstone project's paper to the faculty and students.

But I was unable to attend CAP's 8th National PAO Academy, Aug. 30 -Aug. 31, in San Antonio due to a colossal scheduling conflict - it was also the final week of the FEMA Master PIO course I was completing at the Emergency Management Institute in Maryland. 

Over the course of the three-week program I and the 20 other participants looked at the public information officer's job from a strategic standpoint and our capstone project was writing a master's level paper (we were told it'll be in the EMI Library and cataloged by the Library of Congress) about the application of advanced concepts in public information and communications in emergency management leadership. 

I'm the first member of CAP to complete this course (and I am authorized by EMI to use the initials "MPIO" after my name! 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Surge deployment to Illinois after flooding

There were dumpsters in the driveways of many homes.
I was deployed to Illinois by FEMA to be part of a team that began assessing damage to homes and businesses on Aug. 18 and continued on Aug. 22. FEMA was there at the request of Gov. Bruce Rauner after record-breaking flooding in July in areas of Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook counties.

We had a team in each of the four counties and my team spent two days in McHenry and three days in Lake. Initial damage assessments conducted by county officials documented nearly 300 homes that suffered major damage or were destroyed and more than 3,000 others that also were affected by flood waters, according to the governor's office.

The hot water heater and furnace were most often damaged. 
In addition to one or two FEMA analysts, each team also had one or two analysts from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, one specialist from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and also county officials and sometimes local officials. The assessments will help determine whether the state can meet the federal threshold of $18.3 million for assistance. 

We met the first few mornings at the Illinois State Police Chicago District Headquarters in Des Plaines, which was used for the 1985 filming of the exterior, interior hallways, and a rebuild of the library as the gym shown in the "Breakfast Club" movie. Wow! 

Monday, July 31, 2017

An overnighter for Civil Air Patrol

Stopping in the hallway at Joint Base McGuire.
To be promoted to lieutenant colonel in the Civil Air Patrol, majors will soon be required to complete what is called Region Staff College. It is designed to provide our officers the tools needed to better execute the duties and responsibilities associated with CAP command and staff positions.  

RSC lasts for 40 classroom hours in a laboratory/seminar environment, with the school itself lasting from 5 days to 7 days.  They are normally held on military installations or college campuses, are held annually, and are administered by the regions. Seminar discussions, case studies, and practical exercises are integral parts of the RSC program. 

I completed RSC at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico in 2013 and National Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama in 2014.

At the request of NHQ/PA, I flew up to Philadelphia and drove over to Joint Base Andrews in New Jersey to present "Communications in the 21st Century." I was only there overnight, but it was a rewarding experience to meet and instruct the students. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lending a hand in Michigan after severe flooding

One of the houses we looked at in Bay County.
I was deployed with FEMA to Michigan  after severe storms on June 23 dumped 7 to 12 inches of rain in some parts of mid-Michigan. The floodwaters caused flooding that heavily damaged more than 500 businesses and farms and washed out roads and bridges. Local officials estimated damages in the tens of millions of dollars.
A state disaster declaration was issued June 24 for Midland and Isabella counties to allow state dollars to be used in cleanup efforts. U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar and several other officials asked Gov. Rick Snyder to seek federal emergency aid. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said federal assistance was needed to help families recover.
I was a member of a team sent into Bay County, July 5 to July 9, that visually inspected homes whose owners had called the county to be put on a list of damaged property. Our team, like the teams in other counties, used an unmarked black state-owned Suburban vehicle, driven by a state trooper. The trooper made initial contact with the owners we visited.
In addition to the state trooper, our team consisted of two FEMA analysts and two analysts from the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division. We also had a  county deputy sheriff with us to provide directions. 
Sitting alongside the state trooper driving our Suburban.
What we were doing is officially called a joint preliminary damage assessment. Homes we looked at were rated as being destroyed, having major or minor damage, or unaffected. None of the houses we inspected were rated destroyed. Several were listed as having major damage. Most were considered as having minor damage or being unaffected. From what I saw, the majority of houses had what I call "squishy basement carpet." If the reports that were compiled from the four counties meet the threshold set by the U.S. government, then the governor will officially request federal assistance. The request would be given to the administrator of FEMA, forwarded to the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and then given to the president for consideration.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

FBIPCAAA - May 20, 2017 - "Street, Script and Synthetic - Addictive and Deadly"

The workshop was held at the BSA headquarters.  

So yesterday I attended a workshop, "Street, Script and Synthetic - Addictive and Deadly", presented by Stephanie Siete, director of Community Education at Community Bridges. She gave us a greater understanding of the harrowing and growing opiate addiction in our communities. I also got to sit with my friend Max Miguel, who I had dinner with (and our wives too) just last week at Sassi's Italian restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona. The presentation was so good that I suggested today at a meeting of the board of the Phoenix Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists that we ask Ms. Siete to speak at one of our meetings.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Community Leaders Fundraising Breakfast

Junior Air Force ROTC students at my table.
I was honored to be invited to the annual Community Leaders Fundraising Breakfast held by the Phoenix Chapter of the Red Cross at the Omni Scottsdale Resort in Paradise Valley, Arizona, I sat with an official from Grand Canyon University and four Junior Air Force ROTC students who presented the colors and their commander, an Air Force Reserve major.

Guest speaker was Dave Sanderson, an inspirational survivor, speaker and author who was the last passenger to depart US Airways Flight 1549, or “The Miracle on the Hudson,” when it ditched into the Hudson River in 2009. He talked about the important role the Red Cross played in the recovery of the passengers after they were rescued from the freezing water. He still carries the Red Cross blanket a volunteer gave him when he reached the shore ! 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hands-Only CPR Workshop

So, I'm always certified for first aid and CPR. But I've been curious about the "new" hands-only CPR, so I went to a one-hour workshop given by the Scottsdale, Arizona Fire Department, to see what it's all about. 

As it was presented:

  • Hands-Only CPR is a new type of CPR to use on a person who is in sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Hands-Only CPR is performed on individuals who are 8 years of age or older and who suddenly have collapsed.
  • The speed of compressions is 100 times per minute. Instead of counting, sing the chorus of Staying Alive or the ABC song to keep time.
If someone collapses
  • Call 911
  • Do a sternal rub to see if they wake up. If there is no response, begin Hands-Only CPR.
  • If there is an AED available to shock the heart, do 2 minutes of Hands-Only CPR first and then use the AED
So that's all there is to it. Common sense mostly. Designed for when a stranger needs help and you might not want to provide rescue breathing. Makes sense.