Meet & Greet Recap

Many thanks to those that came out to our 10th annual Allen CERT Meet & Greet Potluck to celebrate a banner year for the program and preview the 2017 outlook. Sitting down with our fellow members gives us a valuable opportunity to kindle new relationships and catch up with old friends.

2016 Accomplishments

Training

Last summer, we gained 3 new certified instructors – Neal van der Upwich, Charrie Mascio, and Shally Perez – who completed a 3-day FEMA course in Austin and assisted with Basic Training last year. Each of them are anxious to begin teaching classes this fall.

Interest in Allen CERT is at an unprecedented level. 17 applicants were wait-listed and ultimately deferred from last year’s class. With a few outreach efforts since, we currently have 24 applicants for 2017 Basic Training. We are making a few changes to ensure we get as many students into class as possible this year without overburdening our resources.

Simulation

Last year’s Disaster Simulation was a major success. In addition to reacquiring the AISD Service Center, we were able to implement a burn pan that added to the realism and further tested the group’s fire extinguisher training. Also, for the first time ever, the simulation was completed in full, and ahead of schedule (by over an hour)! Way to go Class of 2016!

Communications

Mike Pruden and the Allen CERT Communications team have much to celebrate. After months of planning and overcoming many challenges, we were able to install, configure, and certify our very own amateur radio UHF repeater which provides city-wide (and beyond) communications capabilities.

Our trailer received an upgraded radio, thanks to Neil West. The previous radio was having programming complications so Neil graciously purchased and donated a high-quality radio that brings new functions to allow greater efficiency when handling heavy traffic. We thank Neil for this generosity and benevolence to the program and its members.

Welcome new hams! The program gained 12 new amateur radio operators as a result of 3 separate classes that were offered throughout the year:

Linda Hardy Randy Jones Donna Kundaje
Freddy Lamprecht David Lindberg Mark Stoddard
Brent Wells Justin Pilch Traci Reavis
Neal van der Upwich William Ingram Lee Huber

Last year, we experimented with integrating Emergency Communications into the Basic Training curriculum. This proved a huge success and was realized during the Disaster Simulation. Expect this to be formally implemented with future classes.

Logistics

Thanks to John and Charrie Mascio, a full inventory of our response trailer was completed last year and gaps identified. These have been addressed, and John plans to evaluate the trailer contents on an recurring basis.

Readiness

With the membership growing larger each year, we felt it necessary to evaluate our dispatch protocols and stress-test new procedures. Last September, a simulated dispatch was executed and provided many successes and lessons-learned that have further honed the process and procedure for CERT activation and response.

Membership Engagement

A top priority for this program is to stay in touch with members and provide learning/service opportunities without over-communicating. In early 2016, a new website and a monthly newsletter were implemented to address this need with consistency. Many thanks to John Mascio for his involvement with the website – it has proven valuable, not only for our membership, but for outside interest as well.

Tina Crisp has been extremely diligent with communicating updates through our social media vehicles. She uses our public Twitter handle and Facebook page to engage the public, and our private Facebook group to communicate internally. If you haven’t joined the Facebook group, check it out – it’s a great way to receive rapid updates.

2017 Outlook

If you’re looking to get involved, or stay involved this year, expect many opportunities to do so. All known events for 2017 have been scheduled and are available on our calendar. The best way to access the calendar is through our website; look for “Events” on the top menu. You can also subscribe to the calendar by using the iCal (.ics) URL below the calendar. Doing so will ensure you are always up to date with events.

Thank you COA & AFD

We understand that our success is largely dependent on our sponsors – Allen Fire Department – who go above and beyond to ensure we are equipped, ready, and supported in our cause. The Mayor’s office and City Council also recognize the benefit of having a CERT organization and stand behind us 100%. Take every opportunity available to say “Thank you”.

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