Category Archives: Newsletter

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.

Trailer Clean-Out

This Sunday morning, 7/7, John and Ty will be performing some work on both CERT trailers. If you have some time to spare between 9:00 am and noon, they would be grateful for any help in speeding along the process. The trailers are located behind the old AISD Service Center – across the street from Central Fire Station.

The primary objective is to balance the response-related supplies between both trailers so that each is capable of supporting CERT operations in the field. Currently, one trailer is designated as the “response” unit while the other contains mostly promotional items.

In addition to the reorganization of supplies, some remaining electrical work will be done to complete installation of the external lighting. The cribbing packs that were constructed last month will free up a significant amount of space and have left us with several empty boxes to leverage for other supplies.

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.

 

How to Store All That Cribbing

We have a ton of cribbing.

When we had 44 students go through Basic Training in 2017, we had to upscale much of our hands-on activities to accommodate the largest class we’ve ever seen. Part of that was acquiring and cutting more 4×4 treated lumber to ensure every student would have a chance to practice cribbing procedures.

More cribbing is a great thing but it takes up quite a bit of space; Seven large boxes-worth of space, to be exact. Plus, we all know those boxes aren’t fun to carry when they’re loaded down with lumber. On top of that, we cannot fill up the boxes completely so there is a lot of dead space wasted. So do we really have “a ton of cribbing” or are we storing it inefficiently?

Enter the “Crib Pack”, an innovative way of optimizing cribbing storage and transportation. Mike Pruden proposed the idea earlier this year and – during our most recent trailer exercise – William Ingram built a prototype that wowed everyone.

Last week, several members got together in a garage to turn proof-of-concept into reality. In less than two hours, all of our cribbing was converted into the new Crib Packs.

The result is a >60% reduction in storage footprint and seven empty boxes that can be re-purposed. Additionally, the Crib Packs make it much easier to carry the cribbing. The rounded handles at the top allow one person to carry two Packs easily – the equivalent of two boxes. The Packs are held together by two cam-buckle straps, making deployment and cleanup a cinch (literally). The cherry on top: These Packs have a cutout at the bottom that allow them to stack on top of each other for a reduced footprint.

Look for these next time you’re around the trailer, and expect us to deploy these at community events for display and conversation-starters.

Credits

Credit to www.vententerssearch.com for the idea. Thanks to Mike Pruden for submitting the idea. Thank you to William Ingram for building the prototype. Thank you to William Ingram, Neal van der Upwich, Kenneth Spock, and Ty Westfall for assisting with the build. And thank you to Greg Evans for stopping by and taking some pictures.

Free CPR Training

The free CPR training program launched by the Allen Fire Department early this year has been a big hit across town. AFD’s Tony Cooper has been very busy hosting classes on weeknights and weekends – sometimes multiple classes a week.

Tony will be hosting a class just for CERT & CFA July 18th at 6:30 PM. The class will be held in the Community Room at the Parks & Recreation office (where you vote). Family is welcome so bring ’em along. Don’t miss this chance to receive free CPR training – register today!

RSVP

Note: Click the submit button only once, even if it appears unsuccessful. Check the “Registered” section below within a couple hours to verify your RSVP.

Although CPR is not a skill we teach in CERT, we certainly promote it as supplemental learning as it is proven to save lives. Most Allen CERT members have received formal CPR training in the past but taking subsequent classes helps keep the procedures fresh in your mind. Additionally, CPR science is constantly evolving as case studies result in simpler methods and improved techniques.

Registered

  • Chris D
  • Tammy I
  • William I
  • David V
  • Randy J
  • Christina P
  • Carlos A
  • Neal vdU
  • Keri vdU
  • Sofia vdU
  • Rhys vdU
  • Shannen K
  • David L
  • Ann R
  • Marcus C
  • Kenneth S
  • Chris S
  • Ezra S
  • Becky J
  • Joy T
  • Craig T
  • James T
  • Bryce T

Extra! Extra!

Congratulations to Jackie Sword for passing her Extra-class amateur radio license exam. Securing and Extra license is no easy feat with many operators studying for months before taking the test. Jackie has been working toward this goal for some time and passed the Extra exam last month.

With Jackie’s accomplishment, Allen CERT now has 11 Extra-class radio operators on the roster.

Way to go Jackie! We all look forward to hearing you on the air soon.

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.