Category Archives: Newsletter

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.

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

SSTV with William Ingram

Our very own William Ingram will be presenting an overview and demonstration of Slow Scan TV (SSTV) for amateur radio operators on April 10th during the McKinney Amateur Radio Club (MARC) regular meeting on April 10th.

William has been experimenting with and mastering SSTV for some time now and recently demonstrated its capabilities during our spring Simulated Dispatch. The image below was taken by William and transmitted over the Lucas repeater to the Net Control station at the EOC during our exercise.

If you are interested in SSTV and its applications, you can attend the MARC meeting on April 10th, 7:00 PM at Spring Creek BBQ in McKinney.

Click here for the original article in the MARC April Newsletter.


Spotlight: Brendan Kilgore

After moving to Texas less than a year ago, Brendan wasted no time in getting involved with his community in 2017, volunteering his time at the Allen Animal Shelter with his wife, Pam, and committing to an 8-week CERT Basic Training course last fall. So what is he all about? Let’s get to know him…

What is your place of birth?

Worcester, MA.

What brought you to Allen, TX?

A work opportunity for me and change in our personal lives.

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

My wife Pamela and I have been together for 10 years. Married for 5 years. We met through mutual friends and share the love of animals, cooking and food. We have 2 cats. Sylvester and Mia. We also have 2 Pit Bulls. Horatio and Ophelia. No kids yet. And we are talking about buying a horse!!

What do you do for a living?

I am  Regional Director for a sales team that serves business clients at Bank of America. We work with clients ranging from $10M to $100M in gross revenue. I have been with the company for almost 15 years.

Who would you like to swap places with for a week?

My Father-in-law. He passed away in February and took his place in Heaven. If I knew I could swap back in a week… Pretty sure that would be a worth while swap.

Any hobbies / extra-curricular activities?

I grew up playing and coaching soccer. In the last 2-3 yrs, I’ve put some time into learning about and shooting handguns recreationally. Love being around horses. Pam and I also enjoy spending time outdoors with our dogs. Or simply volunteering time around  town when we can.

If you were stuck on an island what three things would you bring?

A fire starter, a machete and my CERT bag. (Assuming a fully charged cell phone is out of the question)

What are you passionate about?

My family, helping others, learning new things and animals.

What was the scariest and/or craziest moment of your life?

I fell through a glass door in my 20’s. The resulting injury severed my radial artery and nerves. I was unconscious for about 3 days in the hospital. Blessed to still be here with the use of my right hand. That was pretty scary/crazy.

What aspect(s) of CERT training has the largest impact on your life?

The concept of preparedness and involvement with others in the community. I enjoy the comradery and opportunities to learn new things while helping to make Allen a better place for my family to live.

Dallas CERT Spring Training Express

Circle April 21st on your calendar!

Dallas CERT is opening their Spring Training Express to all CERTs in the region and you don’t want to miss this lineup. This will be an all-day event with a morning session, lunch, and an afternoon session. Training topics this year include:

  • Trauma and Tactical Medicine for CERT
  • Pet Preparedness
  • CERT Gear
  • Run, Hide, Fight Analysis
  • Stop The Bleed
  • Arboviruses

During lunch, we will have an opportunity to visit with CERTs from around North Central Texas, shop for CERT gear, and even participate in an auction.

To Register

  1. Click here to sign up
  2. You will immediately receive an email providing you with the link to pay the $15 event fee.
  3. Within 24-48 hours, you will receive an email from Cassandra Wallace ( confirming receipt of your payment and providing you with a temporary login and link for Volgistics/Vicnet (the system that you will utilize to register for the event sessions. **Note that this step MUST be completed – you will not have a way to signup for the event sessions without login/password.**
  4. After receipt of the email in #3, log into Volgistics/Vicnet (you may favorite this link in your browser OR you can always access it via and click on the Volgistics Member Login button near the top of the page.  If you have any issues logging in or need a password reset, please contact Cassandra Wallace at
  5. Click on “Check Your Schedule” on the left side which will take you to the Calendar.
  6. In April, you will see a “Help Wanted” bubble on April 21 – the date for Spring Training Express.  Click on the bubble.
  7. You will now see all sessions offered.  We encourage EVERYONE to signup for the (exciting) Keynote session (180421-A1).  Next you choose your “B” session (choose one of the four offerings).   You will see that the sessions repeat a second time beginning at 10:45am (“C” sessions) so be sure you choose one of the four “C” sessions that you wish to attend.  As you choose a session, it will indicate that you are successfully enrolled.

You are all set!  We will see you on April 21!


Can I register a group?

No.  Since registration requires individual selection of sessions, you must enter each person individually.

How much does this event cost?

$15 per person (includes continental breakfast, lunch and an event participation bag).  If you have any questions regarding the event fee, please contact Cassandra Wallace at or 214-671-8969.

Can I pay for multiple people?

If you want to pay for multiple people, yes you may do so.  Information on doing so is on the payment website.

I can/am only interested in attending a portion, can I do this?

We understand that your schedule may prevent you from attending the full day.  If you wish to attend only a portion, only choose those sessions in the time you can attend.  Full payment must still be made.

Who is invited?

All CERT volunteers in North Central Texas (16-counties) who have completed the G-317 course.

I know someone who is not a CERT but is involved a lot in emergency response, can they attend?

This program is for CERT volunteers in the North Central Texas region only.  You must have completed G-317 (Basic CERT course) and be affiliated with a North Central Texas CERT Program.

Where will this event be held?

It will be held at the Dallas Fire Rescue Training Center located at 5000 Dolphin Rd., Dallas, TX 75223.

Will there be parking?

Yes, there is plenty of parking (free) at the facility as you enter the gate.  You will receive an email with any necessary final details (including a map of the facility that denotes parking area) no later than April 14.

What is the time?

Registration and continental breakfast starts at 7:45am with the keynote and kickoff beginning at 8:15am.  Depending on which afternoon session you choose to attend, you will end either at 3pm or 5pm.

Should I bring my kit/pack?

This is up to you.  For some sessions, there is hands-on.  While necessary equipment will be provided, you may want to use your own.  And since there is a session on kits in the morning, if you are planning to you may find it helpful to have your kit – again, it is up to you.

Will sessions be taped and available online?


Are there limits on registration and attendance?

Yes, because of space and facilities, there are limits on sessions and exercises.  These vary depending on the session or exercise.  We encourage you register early to ensure you get your choices.

I want to know more, who can I contact?

There are several people and places:

General information is at

General questions can go to Cassandra Wallace, Dallas CERT Program Manager at or 214-671-8969.  David Cegelski, President, Dallas CERT Inc. at 214-801-2708.

This program is sponsored jointly by the City of Dallas Office of Emergency Management Dallas CERT Program and Dallas CERT Inc., a nonprofit supporting CERT.

What else will be going on during the day?

Beyond the keynote and sessions, there will be a CERT Store where you can purchase CERT items and useful tools.  There will also be an auction where you could win CERT items and other cool things.

Will there be meals provided?

A continental breakfast and box lunch are included in your registration.  There will be a vegetarian option, if you need/want to bring your own breakfast/lunch/snacks, please feel free to do so – you will have access to a refrigerator and microwave if you need it.

My plans have changed and I need to cancel.  How do I do this?  Is there a refund?

We’ll miss you!  Information on how to cancel will be included in your confirmation.  Full refunds will be given for cancellations sent in before April 13.

For more information

You can visit the official Spring Training Express website or follow Dallas CERT on Facebook and Twitter for real-time updates.