All posts by Diltz

Getting to Know Charrie Mascio

Next time you see Charrie Mascio, it would be well worth your time to strike up conversation. As someone with an incredible amount of certifications, expertise, experience, and determination, when Charrie sets her mind to something it gets done with style.

Where were you born? And tell us about your childhood home(town).

I was born in San Fernando, La Union, Philippines.  A small rural community about seven hours by bus, north of Manila.  Not too far from the coast of the South China Sea.  It is the capital of La Union province, so it was an important city for local commerce and trade, along with several colleges and private schools.  Growing up, I went to a private Chinese school then went to Manila for college.

What brought you to Allen, TX?

I was given the opportunity of a Physical Therapy job in Tyler, TX.  I chose to pursue it and moved to the US.  It was a scary move, not knowing any one here in the States.  After working in Tyler for a while, I became a traveling therapist, and in my travels met John, who would become my husband.  We eventually decided to move to Allen about 12 years ago and build our house.

Tell us about your immediate family (including any pets).

I have a twin sister still in the Philippines, who is a Doctor in Manila.  Here, I have my husband, John, and two cats.  When we got married, John had a cat, then we adopted others, and thanks to a very pregnant Snowie, we had 8 cats.  Over time, they have aged, and we only have two left, Tiger and Mi Kee (pronounced “Mikey”).

What do you do for a living and what do you like about it?

I have been a physical therapist for about 23 years now.  I have seen many changes in the field in that time.  I like working with my patients and seeing them get better.  I work mostly with geriatric patients in nursing home settings.

What TV shows do you consider “binge-worthy”?

Lately, I’ve been binge watching the old 1970’s series “Emergency”.  It makes you realize how far the fire department has come in the paramedic program since its early days.  But I have binged on “Xena”, “Hercules”, “Star Gate”, and “Charmed”.  Normally, I like watching the two Hallmark channels to get my dose of love stories and mysteries.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment and what is next on your list?

My two greatest accomplishments were becoming a Doctor and, just recently, getting promoted to fourth degree black belt in martial arts.  Currently, I do not have a major goal, but my goal-in-progress is toward something more spiritual and community oriented.

What is your favorite (historical or recurring) CERT event?

I enjoy the yearly graduation disaster simulation.  After going through my graduation, and getting a bit stuck in Med Ops, it is nice to have the opportunity to see a broader view of the whole process and how the different CERT roles need to work together to effectively manage a crisis.

What advice can you give newer CERT members?

Be open minded and enjoy what you are doing.  Get involved in the CEU classes and get your Amateur Radio license.

How has CERT made an impact on your life, personally and professionally?

The biggest impact is the opportunity to get to know my community.  It has made me more aware of what is in my community, and allows me the opportunity to give something back.

Everyday Emergency: William Ingram

Once in a while – and we never know when – we find ourselves in circumstances that compel our intervention. While these scenarios do not always leverage the functional capabilities we have all trained for, they most certainly demand the mental confidence to jump in and help, which is the underlying mission of CERT training.

Such was the case for William Ingram during his commute home from work on July 15th. As he tells it:

On my way home from work Friday [June 15th] I had to call 911 for a person in a car having a seizure.  I come home Eastbound from Coppell on 121.  The traffic was pretty slow as usual for a Friday after work.  We had gotten up to about 45-50 MPH in a stretch when I noticed the car ahead of the one in front of me slow down dramatically and enter the median.  They were slowing going towards the far side barrier wall and driving very erratically.  I immediately slowed down to see what was going on, got over to the shoulder and put the warning flashers on.  I knew the driver was having some sort of medical issue as there was no reason to try to cross the median as the barrier wall prevented that.  The car hit the wall slowly and then it started to head back into my side of traffic.  I sped up because for a moment I thought I was fixing to have to use my truck to stop that car from rolling into 50 MPH traffic.  Thankfully it turned back towards the wall and hit it again coming to rest.  I pulled over and immediately started running to the vehicle.  Others on the westbound side could see what was going on too and over (6) cars on that side stopped to help.  By the time I got there others had reached the person first so I backed down and stood in front of the vehicle and called 911.  The driver was flailing his arms and head around uncontrollably having a seizure.  I gave 911 the location of where we were at but at that time of day to get to us would be difficult.  Police were headed there first and I could see then trying to get to the incident.  911 heard the sirens and said I could now hang up. 

I took a picture of the scene as I walked away back to my truck.  As the Adrenalin wore off I got to thinking that over (10) cars had stopped to render aid to this stranger in need.  I reacted instantly to see what was going on and was prepared to use my personal truck I dearly love to stop a greater accident from happening.  Seeing that many strangers do the same thing as I did was very comforting.  It is good to know that there are so many good people in this world that would do what I witnessed Friday afternoon.  I left there knowing that person in need was getting the attention he needed and First Responders were on the way.

Stay sharp!

Disaster Animal Response: Recap and Part II

In case you missed it, our Disaster Animal Response class was split into two parts.

In Part I, we discussed the elements that animals add to disaster response planning and operations, as well as pet owner preparedness best practices. This class had a wonderful turnout and very positive feedback. Our instructor, Debi Michnick (Allen Animal Control Supervisor), walked us through animal behavior and early aggression indicators. She was even gracious enough to prepare and distribute disaster pet preparedness plans for us to take home.

If you missed Part I, don’t worry, you can still attend Part II! Our next session is scheduled for July 16th, same time and place – 6:30 at Central. In the next class, Debi will be teaching us techniques for handling animals in a disaster scene. Expect a very interactive experience with hands-on demonstrations.

No registration is necessary, simply show up by 6:30 to take advantage of this incredible training opportunity.

Allen USA 2018

It is time!

DFW’s greatest Independence Day celebration in North Texas is back and Allen CERT will be there to spread the disaster preparedness gospel and recruit new members. If you’re looking for something fun to do on Saturday, June 30th – or even if you were already planning to attend – keep reading.

We need your help

The CERT booth runs smoothly when at least 3 members are present at all times. The more volunteers we have, the shorter shifts everyone can work. Wait, work? It’s not work at all! Allen USA is a relaxed, fun event for everyone, including volunteers. Plan on taking breaks to investigate the attractions and find your favorite food/beverage vendor. In short, we need your help. Sign up below and claim a spot (or spots). Each volunteer will be invited to a briefing a few days before the event to nail down the marketing plan and logistics.

Update 6/21: A 30-minute briefing will be held on Wednesday 6/27, at 7:00 PM, preceding the monthly Steering Committee Meeting. All volunteers are encouraged to attend.

Don’t Wait, Sign Up Now!

Click here to see the volunteer schedule


Basic Training Updates

You spoke, we listened!

Our team of instructors has been meeting weekly for the past couple months to re-evaluate our Basic Training curriculum to ensure we continue to provide the best-in-class experience that the City of Allen is known for.

While we still have some some decisions to make, here are  some changes our future classes will have to look  forward to, based on your feedback:

  • Shorter classroom time
  • More hands-on exercises
  • Combined class with more instructor involvement
  • Upgraded nametags/IDs with digital sign-in capabilities
  • Rearranged syllabus to better align with end-to-end CERT response

Remember, our annual Basic Training is open to existing CERT members; Whether you’re looking for refresher training or want to help out.

We are excited to employee these changes and meet our 2018 class in August for orientation!

Spotlight: Randy Jones

Since joining the program in 2016, Randy has become a familiar face; Contributing over 80 volunteers hours in 2017 across 21 events and earning his General Class radio operator license last February. You’ll often hear his voice on the recurring CERT amateur radio nets, asking great questions and offering excellent advice.

Where were you born? And tell us about your childhood home(town).

I was born in Fort Worth, TX during a rainstorm in August. Ever since then, my life has been full of paradoxes.  My dad was a pastor and I lived in three small towns in North Louisiana and one in East Texas before returning to Fort Worth, where I went to high school.  Despite all the wonderful times I had growing up in the small towns, I call Fort Worth my hometown.

Although Fort Worth has been a big city for all of my life and offered many opportunities I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, it was laid back enough for this country boy to find a way to make it a small town in his mind.  I have some great friends and tons of memories from there.  When I got my driver’s license, I would drive my friends to Crystal’s Pizza after church on Sunday nights in my dad’s unairconditioned ’76 Dodge Aspen.  I loved all kinds of sports and played organized football, basketball, baseball, and tennis, but I ended up lettering in golf in HS.  Our home course was underneath the flight path of Carswell AFB and the ground shook and I did too when the B-52s were taking off over us. A wonderful dad at church organized a boys softball team when I was 17 and I’ve been playing softball ever since, (38+ years now). One umpire recently introduced me to another umpire as having played when Methuselah did. After college, I returned to Fort Worth and lived there until I moved to Allen.

What brought you to Allen, TX?

My work as an engineer at TI in Plano brought me to Allen in 1991.  The drive from Fort Worth was about an hour and 15 minutes one way.  No matter how much I enjoyed driving my ’84 Mustang GT, I was working extra hours on a hot project and many times I was on autopilot driving home and barely remembered the ride.  I would tell people, “My horse knows the way home.”

Tell us about your immediate family (including any pets).

I feel blessed to have the family I have from blending two families. I have four wonderful daughters and one amazing son, two super sons-in-law, four fantastic grandsons, two elderly dogs, two independent cats, and two hidden leopard geckos that only come out to eat crickets.

My first wife, Candy, I met here in Allen and she rescued me from my aimless bachelorhood in 1994 and gave me Kimberly, Grant, and Miranda to care for.  Unfortunately she became sick and died of cancer in 2003.  We were married for 8 1/2 years.  I was a widower for 3 tough years and then Renee came into my life and rescued me from heartbreak and loneliness and gave me Charissa and Tiffani to care for.  She’s been in Allen since she was little.  She also looks so much better than me. I tell her I just look more extinguished. We just celebrated our 12th anniversary.

What three words best describe yourself?

I have had plenty of people describe me in ways that I don’t necessarily agree with. Deep inside, I think I understand why. I’ve gained friends and lost friends over these same things. From the top 100, I’m inclined to pick Loyal (to family and good causes), Protective (of my family and teammates), and Analytical (anal for short).

What is your favorite childhood memory?

Many good memories that come to mind and stand out the most are how my family protected me from the chaotic world’s influence of the 60’s and 70’s … like turning down the radio while I was singing “Bye, bye, Miss American Pie …” in the back seat when I was around 9 years old.  Or, not letting me go see Young Frankenstein with my friends when I was barely a teenager.  I enjoy both the song and the movie, now, but I wasn’t ready for them then.  They couldn’t always protect me from the outside world and so I’ve grown to appreciate how God taught me a very important lesson in life when, at age 4, I sat down near an ant bed and tried to make friends.  I’ve spent the rest of my life learning how to leave well enough alone.

Who is/was your greatest mentor?

I’m not sure if “greatest mentor” means someone that made the greatest impact in the shortest amount of time or spent the most time and energy trying to help me finally get “it”.  I have to give credit to a teacher in 6th grade that said I ought to become an engineer when I told him I liked math so much, one of my bosses that interviewed me and was instrumental in hiring me out of college when I still wasn’t very sure what being an engineer meant, all my grandparents, aunts, and uncles, but especially my mom (a teacher) and my dad (a pastor) who spent countless hours and energy working on me.  God is the greatest mentor of all.

What is your favorite indoor/outdoor activity?

Having played baseball as a kid, played softball for about 38 years, coached baseball for over 10 years, I have to go with karaoke … just kidding!

What is your greatest accomplishment?

It’s hard to really say what my greatest accomplishment is when the jury is still out.  I’m a jack of all trades and an expert of none.  I’ve done so many different things and enjoy so many different things, I don’t really have anything that pops into mind.  I’m still working on solving all the world’s problems and I’ll let you know when I’m done.

What advice can you give newer CERT members?

I’m a pretty new CERT member myself and I’ve tried to be a part of every drill or simulation and take as much training as possible.  I think that formula is working real well for me.  More importantly, I’m getting to know wonderful citizens of Allen who are going to make themselves available and stand in the gap when a disaster strikes.  The more we practice and the more we get to know each other and trust each other, the better we will respond when something bad happens in or near Allen and we are called out.

How has CERT made an impact on your life, personally and professionally?

I got into CERT because two totally unrelated friends mentioned it to me at about the same time. As I looked into what CERT does, it seemed to fit my need to be prepared for all of the situations that disasters can create without warning … chaos, injuries, loss of life and property,.  I’m not a first responder … someone who puts their own life at risk, chooses to be a hero, and does it for a living.  I just want to be ready to help them when they need extra help.

CERT opened the door to being a better contributor to my community. I’ve been in Allen for about 27 years and after raising kids for so long, I finally discovered a satisfying way to volunteer and contribute. My family has been very supportive and that means a lot to me.  I’ve also become a licensed HAM radio operator and my only regret is that I wish I had obtained my license 30 years ago.

Disaster Animal Response Training

June 14, 6:30 PM

You asked for it! Since cancelling the class last July, we have been pursuing another opportunity to delivery this training due to popular demand. Well, the wait is over!

The Allen Animal Shelter will join us at Central Station on Thursday, June 14th, 6;30 – 8:30 PM to teach us the important considerations of pet emergency preparedness and handling animals during disaster response operations.

Seating is limited so RSVP today!

Spotlight: Noreen O’Connell

If you haven’t met her, you’ve likely heard her (or her husband’s) voice on a Collin County ARES net, running the Net Control Station during a severe weather event. Noreen and her husband, Greg Evans, have been members of Allen CERT for several years and participate in other emergency preparedness groups to demonstrate their commitment to community education and disaster response.

Learn more about Noreen…

What is your place of birth?

Detroit, Michigan

What brought you to Allen, TX?

We purchased our first home here and stayed ever since. I came to Texas because Greg is a Texan, and well, how could anyone resist that? We met while serving in the U.S Navy, we were both stationed at Pearl Harbor, HI.

Tell us about your immediate family (including any pets).

Greg, and our rescue cat Domino. Dom is a feral cat that Greg found while working in Wyoming. They flew home first class! Dom is the most charismatic cat I ever met.

What do you do for a living?

I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy.

What is your favorite childhood memory?

Toss-up between summer vacation at the family cottage on the north shore of Lake Michigan, and the 1984 Detroit Tigers World Series Championship. I was at that game when they won it all.

If you were to write a self-help book, what would the topic be?

“Learned Helplessness- Just Stop It!”

What other volunteer activities keep you busy?

I along with Greg am a Skywarn NCS (net control station HAM radio operator) for Collin County. I am one of the volunteers that run the Amateur Radio nets for the National Weather Service during severe weather. We provide “ground truth” to the NWS, because radar does have limitations.

Tell us about your most intense disaster response experience.

The response to the Rowlett tornado. We were in one of the most severely damaged “hot zones” and it was very raw and wild. There were a lot of people terrified and paranoid. I went door to door for wellness checks and damage assessment. Many people would not answer the door. Most people that did were holding guns. I guess my CERT hard hat, vest, and badge did have a lot of meaning, because it was the only way people would trust me, but I still felt very vulnerable. There were areas of severe debris and flooding and hazmat. I had to remember nearly all aspects of my training that day. I was grateful for the experience and the training that kept me safe and prepared me.

What advice can you give newer CERT members?

There are so very many ways to contribute, and they are all valuable and welcomed. Don’t underestimate yourself, you can really do it!

How has CERT made an impact on your life, personally and professionally?

My awareness of situations and potential hazards is increased. I am not saying I am going around totally paranoid, and I am not a doomsday prepper or anything, but I feel I am basically prepared for most of the basics. I am also in awe of some of the people I have come to know, and their vast knowledge, experience, leadership, and willingness to serve. It continues to be an inspiration. I am a Veteran of the U.S. Navy, and somehow, I still have the desire to serve in some manner, it just never goes away, I want to be involved.

HAM-COM 2018

It’s back and better than ever

The biggest hamfest in Texas is celebrating its 40th anniversary and will be bringing some very positive changes from last year including:

  • Moving back to the Plano Event Center
  • Free parking
  • Outdoor flea market
  • 3-day event
  • And more!

When and Where?

Ham-Com 2018 is a 3-day event that starts Friday June 8 at 1:00 PM and ends Sunday June 10 at 2:00 PM.

This year’s event will be at the Plano Event Center, 2000 E Spring Creek Pkwy, Plano, 75074. Click here for a map/directions.

What is Ham-Com?

The largest Amateur Radio and Electronics show in Texas! Ham-Com showcases the latest in ham radio and related gear. Enjoy three days of classes, lectures, vendor sales, a swap meet, and more.

If you have been wanting some new gear, you’ll find it here!

Visit the Ham-Com 2018 website for much more information such as event schedules, vendor layouts, and volunteer opportunities.

I want in!

Tickets are $8 in advance online or $10 at the door. Children 17 and under are free. The first 3,000 people through the door will receive a commemorative 40th anniversary pin.

Register Here

Amateur Radio Class & Exam

May 19 – May 20, 2018

The Plano Amateur Radio Club will be presenting a Technician level amateur radio class on May 19th and 20th, 2018. The class will be held at the Allen Central Fire Station training center, which is located at 310 Century Parkway, in Allen TX.  As always the class is free, the EXAM is $14.00 cash. We are looking at a timeframe of 8:00am- 5:00pm on Saturday and 8:00am- 3:00pm on Sunday, with the EXAM  starting  at 3:00 pm on Sunday.  Limited parking should be available  on the north side of the fire station. Additional parking is available across the street (Century Parkway), at the City of Allen municipal complex.

To prepare for this class, we urge you to pick up a copy of the Ham Radio School’s Technician Class study guide prior to the class, and read through the course material at least once. If you prepare by reading through the study guide, and marking any items that you have questions about, and then pay attention and ask questions during the two day training class, there is an excellent probability that you will pass the exam with a high score.  Other Technician License Study Guides are available locally at the Ham Radio Outlet store 701 E. Plano Parkway Suite 406, across the street from Fry’s Electronics in Plano.

A government issued photo ID will be required to take the exam on Sunday afternoon (FCC Requirement).  Other amateur radio class exams (General,Extra) will also be available for those wishing to take those exams. For these advanced exams, you will need to bring a copy of your current amateur radio license.

 To register for this class…

or if you have additional questions, please send an email to Mike Pruden at NN5ZZ@ARRL.NET. Please provide:

  • Name (first and last)
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number

so we can contact you with any questions.