Category Archives: Events

Allen Recycles Day

Help Wanted

The City of Allen will be hosting this semi-annual cleanup event at City Hall Saturday, November 2, and have called on Allen CERT again to assist with traffic and crowd management. Volunteers will need to arrive at 7:00 AM and the event runs until 12:00 PM or until the line disappears.

This is a fun and face-paced event that is sure to increase your confidence in handling traffic and radio communications.

We need a minimum of 8 (eight) volunteers to pull this off so let’s show the City we can deliver.

Registered Members

  • C.Diltz
  • K.Spock
  • T.Reavis

2019 Allen Preparedness Expo

September is National Preparedness Month and, as usual, we celebrate by hosting the annual Allen Preparedness Expo. Several community-based and professional organizations such as AFD, COP, CFA, and Animal Control will bring their exhibits. This year, we are thrilled to welcome Team Rubicon to the event! This is a free, family-friendly event that is open to the general public.

Stop by Lowe’s Home Improvement, September 14th, 09:00 – 14:00 to learn what you can do to prepare yourself, your family, and your business for a disaster, and see what resources and services are provided for you in the City of Allen. There will be activities for kids and adults.

Exhibits include:

  • Allen Community Emergency Response Team
  • Amateur Radio organizations
  • Allen Animal Shelter (Animal Control)
  • Allen Police Department
  • Citizens on Patrol (COP)
  • Citizens Fire Academy
  • Allen Fire Department
  • Team Rubicon

Volunteer Registration

Note: There is a known issue with the sign up form that results in a timeout error upon submission. Registration details are still being processed in the face of this error so please click the button only once.

Registered

  • William I
  • Kenneth S
  • Ty W
  • Shannen K
  • Traci R
  • Linda H
  • Mike P

A New Experience at Allen USA

This year’s Allen USA was one for the books.

Three days prior to the event, Allen Parks and Recreation Department solicited Allen CERT’s help with running security for the Main Stage, tasked with verifying credentials for bands, VIPs, and city staff. This was in addition to running our usual booth on Partner Row which meant we needed to split resources between both locations and maintain presence throughout the event.

Around 5:00 pm, lightening flashes became visible to the east, causing event staff to start issuing recommendations to the crowd to consider moving to Curtis Middle School across the street. The storm to the east stayed out of our way but just before 6:00 pm, with new storms moving in from the north, the recommendation turned mandatory and the park was evacuated.

Allen CERT personnel took shelter in multiple vehicles in the west parking lot and monitored the weather while also communicating with Collin County ARES and staying in coordination with event staff. The evacuation lasted an hour and a half with the park reopening around 7:20 pm. While some event zones were shut down permanently, most areas of the event were back in business and the show went on as planned.

During the storm, we were approached by a distraught guest that needed help jumping their vehicle, as they were taking shelter in the parking lot. Allen CERT to the rescue – we quickly drove over and had them up and running within a few minutes. It turns out they were food vendors so, as a bonus, we each received a comped dinner after the park reopened.

The team showed pure professionalism before, during, and after the storms. Watching and deciphering radar, communicating between posts, taking quick and decisive action, and picking right up where we left off after the storms… Event staff was incredibly impressed with our behavior.

After the storms passed through, we were blessed with cooler temperatures and a beautiful sunset.

Allen Parks and Recreation Athletics Director David Bracey wrote his thanks to Allen CERT:

“I am amazed by your teams’ flexibility and awareness and grateful for the teamwork demonstrated that day with City of Allen staff to create a positive atmosphere for the event. This is especially emphasized by the weather related adjustments and the staff that additionally offered to stay later than assigned in order to verify any needed coverage.”

We can expect the City to engage us again next year, possibly with elevated involvement.

 

Pictures were taken and provided by Brendan Kilgore and Kelly Cunningham.

Who Wants Pancakes For Breakfast Tomorrow?

Looking for something fun to do Saturday morning – breakfast included?

From the CFA Alumni Association:

Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser this Saturday, June 8th – 8am – 10am given by Alexis Estates Gracious Retirement Living to honor our firefighters. Donations will go through CFA to help support the fire department and our community through various programs CFA Alumni assist with through the year. Please come on out Saturday morning and support CFA, the Fire Department, and our community. Address is: 680 N Watters Rd, Allen, TX 75013. A huge thanks to the staff at Alexis Estates for putting together this fundraiser!! Please share with your family, friends and neighbors so we can give them a huge crowd!!!!!

New Reasons to Attend Ham-Com

Ham-Com is this weekend!

It starts today (Friday) at noon and runs through Saturday at 5:00 PM and takes place at the Plano Convention Center. In addition to the same great information and sales, new classes are being offered this year – some of them are very practical for CERTs.

New classes include Stop the Bleed, Baofeng Radio Programming, Air Force MARS, Advances in Severe Weather Detection, and ARES/Skywarn training.

Admission is just $10 at the door and gets you access to all events, classes, and exhibits.

For more information on Ham-Com 2019, read the flyer or visit them on Facebook.

 

Lend a Hand

CFA Alumni are at bat this weekend for the quarterly cleanup of Century Pkwy. They will be meeting at Central Station at 8:30 am on Saturday, May 4th. CERTs are welcome to show up and help out. If you haven’t seen the recent CERT trailer upgrades, this is your chance.

Regional Volunteer Symposium

The North Central Texas Council of Governments – affectionately called “the COG” – is hosting their second-annual Volunteer Symposium on Friday, May 10th. This is an all-day event that provides training on a wide variety of CERT-friendly topics.

This year, they are hosting the symposium at the Ruthe Jackson Center in Grand Prairie. There is no cost to attend but you must register in advance (see below).

From the COG:

The 2nd Annual Volunteer Symposium is an excellent opportunity to expand your network and knowledge base; meet, learn, and network with dedicated leaders in the field; and candidly discuss challenges and successes so we can collectively grow in our missions.

In addition to a dynamic and engaging lunch speaker, this year’s symposium topics include (see attached agenda for details):

  • Red Cross Shelter Training
  • Volunteer Reception Center
  • Managing the Spontaneous Volunteer Workforce
  • Stop the Bleed
  • Self Care
  • Youth Volunteer Engagement
  • Leadership for Success
  • Leadership Compass 2.0
  • Individual Resilience and Personal Preparedness (IRaPP)
  • Generational Volunteerism (Panel)

Get ready to be invigorated and inspired! Register now.

LINK: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/volunteer-symposium-tickets-57432892327

PASSWORD: volunteer

Spring ARES Simulation

Every spring, Collin County ARES conducts a county-wide test of their amateur radio communications network and emergency response protocols. During this simulation, radio operators are mobilized to critical infrastructure throughout the county to perform a sizeup and report conditions back to the net control station.

Allen CERT members can participate in this event simply by checking into the CERT (N5UIG) repeater between 0800 and 1200 on May 11th. We will have an assigned Net Control Operator interfacing with CC ARES who will handle assignments and accountability.

Please note: This event conflicts with the Great American Cleanup so if you are already registered, or are available to help, please prioritize the Great American Cleanup so we can fulfill our commitment to the City of Allen.

More on this event

Collin County ARES will participate in a Simulated Emergency Test (SET) on May 11, 2019. All Amateur Radio operators and interested organizations are asked to participate. We will set up at the Lucas Fire Station, Lucas, TX during the exercise and will be operational from 08:30 AM to at least 1:00 PM. County and Local Emergency Managers and officials are invited to observe.

SCENARIO: On Friday, May 9 at 2:00 pm, regional nets were activated in response to a 6.5 earthquake centered 20 miles southwest of Sherman Texas. Damage occurred in a 250 mi radius from the epicenter and aftershocks of 4.5 or greater occurred overnight. Local communication and internet services have been interrupted or overloaded and are unreliable. Collin County Emergency Management has requested the assistance of Collin County ARES to provide support for infrastructure assessment and communications coordination with local agencies and volunteer organizations. Federal Resources have been staged outside of the disaster zone and are preparing to move into the area to assist once
locations have been deemed safe and roads are passable.

MAJOR OBJECTIVES

  • To assess the ability to activate and deploy resources in response to Emergency Management support requests during an emerging event
  • To assess the ability of ARES teams to safely collect and provide critical infrastructure assessment to County Emergency Management
  • Sign off tasks in the NTX ARES Emergency Communicator Individual Task Book
  • To meet the first three objectives, ARES will be activated with the following activities:
    • Implementation of the Incident Action Plan
    • Identify resource capabilities
    • Liaison with other local emergency and volunteer organizations
    • Consolidate readiness and infrastructure status information from assessment teams to Emergency Management
    • Relay resource and information requests/responses between Emergency Management and local emergency and
      volunteer organizations

Emergency service organization stations and ARES net participants will be asked to pass traffic stating readiness and capabilities. An ARES Net will be announced on the national calling frequency and via other methods prior to the exercise hours. Members will be invited to check into the net and provide their readiness and capabilities. ARES Members that wish to participate in the Critical Infrastructure Assessment may muster at the Lucas Fire Station or
meet at other locations. Teams will be formed and provided a list of facilities / sites to assess and report to net control. During this phase of the exercise, the team may be asked to communicate via Repeater, Simplex or both to determine signal levels from those locations.

Area CERT and other volunteer organizations can also assist in the Infrastructure Assessment. Those organizations should contact K5GTX at ARRL.NET or WD5ERD as ARRL.NET so that the Planning Section can provide identified facilities for the critical  infrastructure assessment. Note: This is already been completed for Allen CERT

At the conclusion of the exercise, participating organizations will provide an After-Action Report (AAR) identifying activities, issues, and lessons learned. The AARs will be consolidated and forwarded to Emergency Management.

For participating organizations, after activation, you may deploy to one or more locations for staging. Organizations should determine the best staging location(s) for their area and direct volunteers there. After activation and deployment, participating groups are asked to provide an activation report on their location’s infrastructure and capabilities. If the participating group has multiple deployments, it is requested that status information is consolidated prior to reporting on the ARES net or transmitted via Winlink. Refer to ICS-205AR that be promulgated prior the the
exercise for address information.

Spring Exercise Recap

Trying something new

Our spring simulation offers us a chance to test our dispatch protocols, activation timing, mobilization, and Incident Command expertise. For the first time ever, we added a twist: Doing all of this in a parking lot with just what we have in the trailers.

At 0815 on Saturday, March 23, select members arrived at Central Station following a standby order, only to find that the building was damaged in the preceding storm and was not suitable to serve as a command post. 30 minutes later, we activated the Allen CERT membership with instructions to report to our secondary staging area: Allen High School.

Both CERT trailers were transported to the high school parking lot within 15 minutes and, by 0900, several responders had arrived at the staging area. By 0920, both trailers were unloaded, a command structure was established, net control was up and running, and the first damage assessment team was receiving their assignment briefing. That means that, from activation to mobilization, we baseline at just over an hour – not bad at all considering the command post had to be relocated.

At 1115, the final assignment had been completed and teams were in route back to the command post where we debriefed and documented observations on both the action plan, and our ability to mobilize a command post.

What did we learn?

Maps are vital; Having a large satellite-image map of the city is extremely helpful when developing an action plan and determining where to send resources.

The generator upgrades, courtesy of William Ingram, was instrumental in starting the generator quickly and providing the power needed to run a radio net within the trailer.

Unloading the trailers is relatively quick, considering almost everything can just be pulled out and set to the side. However, loading the trailers is time-consuming and can delay operations if relocation is required during an active incident.

Because this was an exercise, no medical or extrication equipment was leveraged so no evaluation was performed. This will be evaluated during and after our fall exercise.

Milestone briefings are often overlooked and should be considered an improvement opportunity for the program, as we tend to be anxious to send resources into the field. Remembering to pause at the top and ensure everyone is running on the same rail will mitigate overlap throughout the event.

Communications still proves to be a strength for Allen CERT. With the right equipment and skilled operators, we can establish a net and communicate effectively between teams to relay information and fold intelligence into the next phase of the incident action plan.

Communication cannot overstep documentation, and documentation cannot be done properly without communication before and during an assignment (e.g., assignment briefings, standardization, reporting criteria, etc.). Having a plethora of dry-erase boards was extremely helpful for tracking accountability.

What’s next?

The program has been purchasing equipment and supplies to greatly improve a mobile command experience. We are also working to create an activation playbook that will outline the progressive steps for notifying responders, establishing a command structure, developing an action plan, assigning tasks, and documenting results.

Overall, our response capabilities are excellent, as observed internally and externally. Additionally, we have an excellent baseline response time and any improvement to that metric will be considered a huge accomplishment.

Attending events and training opportunities is a great way to keep your skills sharp. Even the smallest of events can help sharpen a skill that folds into our holistic skill set.

Do you have ideas on how we can improve our capabilities? Our Monthly Membership Meeting is open to all members and is held at La Madeleine on the fourth Wednesday, 7:30 pm, of each month.

Want a Ham License?

The Plano Amateur Radio Club is presenting an amateur radio Technician License class.  The class will be held on Saturday and Sunday, April 27th and 28th at the Lucas Fire Station training facility. The fire station is located at 165 Country Club Ln, which is just north of Bethany/Lucas Rd, in Lucas TX.  Lucas is located just east of Allen, TX off of US Hwy 75 at the Bethany Rd. exit.

As always the class is free, the test is $14.00 cash. The class will start at 8:00am each day and will finish up by 5:00pm, depending on class participation and questions. The exam will begin at 3:00 on Sunday April 28th.  Other amateur radio class exams (General or Extra) will also be available for those wishing to take those exams. Parking should be available on the south side of the fire station. A government issued photo ID will be required to take the exam (an FCC Requirement).

To prepare for this class, we urge you to pick up a copy of one of the Technician license study guides, and read through the material at least once prior to the class.  You should not expect to just walk in to the two day training class and grasp all the necessary information to successfully pass the exam. But, if you prepare by reading through one of the study guides at least once, 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.

Our course material is based on the Ham Radio School’s Technician License Course Study Guide, by Stu Turner.  These study guides are available online and locally at the Ham Radio Outlet store 701 E. Plano Parkway Suite 406, across the street from Fry’s Electronics in Plano.  The cost for the study guide should be around $20.00. There are also a number of online practice exams that can help you identify those areas where you need a little extra practice.

TO REGISTER,for this class, or if you have any additional questions, please send an email to Mike Pruden at (NN5ZZ@ARRL.NET). Please provide your NAME, EMAIL ADDRESS, and TELEPHONE NUMBER, in case we need to reach out to you with any changes. Registrations must be received by April 22nd 2019 to allow us time to schedule the necessary resources for the class.