Category Archives: Newsletter

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.

SAR Tracker Training

EastTex CERT has organized a tracking course geared toward search and rescue operations and taught by a world-renown Fernando Moreira and has extended the invitation to Allen CERT. The class runs Jun 14th through June 16th.

From EastTex CERT:

The class is being sponsored by the Texas Survival School and is a 2-and-a-half day Man Tracking class featuring Fernando Moreira.  The class will be held behind City Hall in Lucas and then the field work will take place around Trinity Trail on Lavon.  We have reserved the camp ground that the Raptor Center has for the weekend for all who want to stay on site.  The class is $200 per student.  Anyone interested can reach out to Ray McKee with any questions and registration can be completed at www.texassurvivalschool.com on the Class Summary & Registration menu.  This should be an awesome class.  Fernando really knows his stuff and we have been working for quite some time to get him to come to the area to do a class for all of our SAR and Law Enforcement friends.

More on the Course

Tracking is not a lost art, but rather and underutilized modern science. Let us show you how. Together we can make a difference. Fernando Moreira’s Professional Tracking Services provides expert training in visual tracking, consultations and deployment in the field across the United States and world-wide.

We customize each class to take  into account your personal and the terrain they will encounter to best perform skill sets learned when on the job as a volunteer, contractor, law enforcement officer or while serving in the military.

Training to prepare SAR members for urban, rural and night tracking under “ideal” conditions. This course is for the SAR or law enforcement person that has the desire to become a tracker for the purpose of Search & Rescue. It is an intensive course with 4 hours class room and 16 hours in the field.

Allen CERT Answers the Call

For those that participated in the March 23 simulation, the next day was a bit of deja-vu. Just 36 hours after practicing a damage assessment, Allen was hit by a massive hail storm and CERT was activated immediately following.

The call from AFD came at 7:00 pm and by 7:30 pm, a net was in progress and a command post was underway at Central Station. The first damage assessment team was formally dispatched at 7:30 which is incredible and, some damage was reported by Responders in route to Central Station via GroupMe which allowed early awareness on the location, extent, and degree of damage.

An incident action plan went into affect quickly and Operations was able to rapidly aggregate the location of damage reports and the areas impacted by the hail across north Allen.

Multiple assets proved invaluable to the effectiveness of our efforts. The N5UIG repeater’s recent enhancements provided reliable communication with all teams deployed across the city – as did skilled operators running the net. Large maps, both satellite image and streets, were instrumental in developing a plan and documenting damage. Having access to the Ron Gentry Training Facility supplied plenty of tables, chairs, lighting, power, parking, and creature comforts that allowed command staff to focus on the action plan. Most of all, having numerous, skilled, and capable members present and participating greatly helped the operation progress and evolve as needed.

The response effort was not without its challenges and shortcomings but the program accomplished all set objectives within a three-hour time span, delivered actionable intelligence to the authorities, and sent everyone home safely. The Allen Fire Department leadership on site expressed pride in the professionalism, precision, and expediency that was displayed by Allen CERT that evening.

We have collected observations and feedback from multiple Responders that participated in the effort and will be taking action to further improve our response operations. Allen CERT members should be proud to be part of a capable and recognized program that continues to serve the residents of Allen Texas.

Calling all handy men and women!

We have received some new equipment for the trailers, including exterior scene lighting, enhanced interior lighting, and a battery-based auxiliary power system that will greatly enhance our mobile response experience, scene safety, and longevity in the field.

These items will be installed on Sunday, April 14, and we can use all the help we can get to make it happen.

This will be an all-day activity at Central Station that starts at 8:00 am and continues until we can get everything back into the trailer after the installation is completed, or we run out of daylight. Therefore, you are welcome to help out for as long as you are available, coming and going as your schedule permits. Lunch will be provided.

Most of the work being performed is electrical but we there is a bit of woodworking involved and a full inventory of all supplies will be part of this job. Feel free to bring whatever tools and hardware you think will help.

This will be a very fun and rewarding day – hope to see you there!

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.

Great American Cleanup ’19

The city is looking again to Allen CERT to provide traffic management for one of the largest cleanup events in the region. This year’s Great American Cleanup will be at City Hall on Saturday, May 11th from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Our role is to direct vehicles to the correct locations depending on what they are disposing of and to keep the traffic moving as efficiently as possible. This job operates best with at least 10 volunteers so  your help is needed. Plus, this is one of the few events every year that serves to keep our traffic management skills sharp.

Sign up below if you would like to help out. We will hold a pre-event briefing at our April membership meeting on 4/24.

Sign Up Now

Volunteers

  • Chris D
  • Ty W
  • Traci R
  • Melissa M
  • Joy L
  • David M
  • Chris S
  • Kim S
  • Kenneth S

Farewell, from Dave Campbell

To start off, as Bob Hope sang for so many the years, “Thanks for the Memory”.

Unlike a lot of people who have were born here or have been here for many more years, I moved to Allen from the state of Ohio in 1997. Our house was built in Beacon Hill on the west side. That was when McDermott was a 2-lane road.

It was in 2003 when I registered for the Allen Citizens Fire Academy. Class #2 of CFA was definitely an educational experience, but also a uniquely fun class as well. Some say that it’s still being talked about to this day in subsequent CFA classes. It was then that I met Linda Greenidge, Public Education Coordinator, more commonly known as “LG”, we called her “Fire Mom”. We all know her role in the Allen Fire Department, but she became a dear friend to my wife and me and has been so for several years. I guess it was then that I got the ‘fire bug’.

In 2005, Linda came to me and said Chief Hawley wanted to start a CERT program…….whatever that was. Linda had already gone through a Train-the-trainer class; therefore, Joey Herald and I went to Garland for 3 days and went through the TTT class as well. As Allen CERT would later be known for their exceptional performance along the years, Joey and I initially started this trend during one of the TTT classes by performing an extraction exercise under conditions in which we were not expected to accomplish. Through several planning sessions, Linda Greenidge, Joey Herald and I started the Allen CERT program and held our first class in the Fall of 2006.

In 2007, many personal changes occurred, and I moved to the east side. Moving from the west side to the east gave me a wider experience in the city’s topology. My wife Charie has been by my side and so supportive of everything I have been involved with in the City of Allen including her participation as well.

Allen CERT was initially established under the Prevention Division of the Fire Department under the Fire Marshal due to its education value in prevention and responding. However, after the program’s first actual response in April of 2008 when an EF-0 tornado went through Allen, the program was transferred to the Operations Division under the auspices of C-Shift Battalion and Administrative Captain.

Due to favorable circumstances, Charie and I decided to buy her parent’s property an hour away in Scurry (Kaufman County) in 2013. It consisted of a main house, guest/rent house, utility barn and a pond on 8 acres. We continued to maintain it as we had since 2009. It was our intention to eventually move there at some point in time, assuming around my retirement time frame. Her parents would continue to live there as long as they wanted. Not knowing when our move would take place, I decided to find a coordinator replacement who had the same passion and drive for the CERT program as I had over the years. That person was Chris Diltz. Our transition over the period of a year went like clockwork. He not only took this volunteer position eagerly and effectively, but greatly improved it and modernized the program. It had been a blessing and a privilege to have served as Allen CERT Coordinator for the previous 10 years.

In addition to continuing to assist LG in many of the CFA classes, in 2014 I found myself once again working with her with the newly forming Allen Rehab Team (ART). The Rehab Team is the team of CFA members that have agreed to respond to incidents that require the Heavy Rescue vehicle to be called out. My involvement started out with reviewing the new policies and procedure manual, continued work with other members and Station 5 with numerous practice scenarios and familiarization training on the Heavy Rescue. Then several of us ended up responding to a number of live fires. As an Allen Rehab Team member, our team volunteered to assist the AFD by supporting our firefighters, as well as surrounding city’s firefighters, with aid and comfort during any incident of sufficient magnitude and duration warranting the need for the support services provided by the Rehab Team and Heavy Rescue.

August of 2018 brought us a new Fire Chief, Jonathan Boyd. I knew and respected Chief Boyd for years at the Fire Department when he handled training and many other duties and was excited to see him take over this new role.

Most recently, through gentle persuasion from good friend Tammy Ingram, it was also a privilege and honor to serve on the board of the Citizens Fire Academy Alumni Association of Allen, TX with her, Ken Seggerman and Lynne Hogan. I had been on the board when the non-profit organization was formed but took a break from it to support CERT. Being involved in the first CFA Fundraiser Dinner in 2018 was also a treat. Speaking of Ken, he and his wife Margaret, being our wonderful neighbors, have also been involved in CFA since Class #1 and have shown their support for the Fire Department as volunteers all these years.

On a personal side, in January 2017, Charie’s dad went home to be with the Lord and then her mother followed in October of 2018. With that, we decided to start the process of taking the 26-year old house and having some substantial interior remodeling done. This started around Christmas of last year. Great progress has been made removing a dated ceiling style throughout and five rooms of wallpaper, applying texturing and painting the entire interior and laying of tile and laminate throughout the house.

Along with the building of strong relationships with the so many Allen Fire-Rescue personnel over the years, I also met a number of awesome personnel with law enforcement. I initially met Chief Brian Harvey with the Allen Police Department during his orientation in 2012 and was impressed with him from the start. I continued to have discussions with him in person and via email. Along with Chief Harvey, I also met Collin County Jim Skinner and had discussions with him. I also met and had great conversations with other Allen Police officers. Just as with the Allen Fire-Rescue, I’ve always appreciated their service.

Many other city employees made great impressions with me, such as Mayor Stephen Terrell. City Manager Peter Vargas, several council members, ACTV’s Executive Producer Mark Kaufman and his staff, to name a few. From an AFD administrative perspective, Shauna Body has always been a big help as well through the years.

With so many Allen Fire Department, Citizens Fire Academy, CERT and Rehab administrative and member friendships built through years here in Allen, the closeness from a geographic perspective will be greatly missed.

With the remodeling of the house in Scurry, our planned move is the end of February 2019. While it is was relatively easy to transition the CERT program over to Chris, leaving Allen after 20 years is a bit difficult. However, my wife and I are very excited about the upcoming move as a ‘New Chapter’ in our lives. My cell number and email address will remain [contact admin] and [contact admin]. As of March of this year, we will be residing at [contact admin].

So, with all that said, to continue quoting from the song Bob Hope sang, “Thank you so much”.

Thank you!

Dave Campbell