Category Archives: Newsletter 2017.04

Lessons From CERT Bag Class

Once a year, we have an opportunity to huddle together and dump out the contents of our CERT bags for inspection and discussion. It’s probably the most internally beneficial events of the year for our membership because we get inspired to upgrade, replace, and/or amend our gear. Here’s what we took away from Thursday night’s class:

There is no perfect bag

Whether your backpack is 100% standard issue or was personally engineered from the ground up, it is missing something. You may also have too much. Striking a balance between weight and utility is difficult and if a perfect balance was possible, we could cancel this event.

Me first

Design your bag to take care of yourself first, and others last. Selfish? That’s okay. We have to ensure that, as emergency responders, we can sustain ourselves for the duration of our assignment. If we are out of commission, so are the people we could have helped. Ensure you have a way to carry water, enough first aid supplies, and the right protective equipment (PPE) for the most important person in the group – yourself.

Ounces equal pounds. Pounds equal pain.

Carrying a 4-in-1 tool, hammer, pry bar, adjustable wrench, and a socket set? Ditch the extra weight by eliminating redundant tools/equipment and consider multipurpose items that can get most jobs done. A 4-in-1 tool combined with a set of Channel Locks provides a ton of versatility with minimal weight. It’s recommended that you do a short hike with your backpack on to find out what you’re really capable of carrying for a long duration.

Water is your friend, and your enemy

You will need more water for drinking that you probably realize. But, water from above can really ruin your day. Make sure your gear is protected from rain by compartmentalizing items in waterproof bags. Consider throwing your bag in a pool; what would/wouldn’t survive? Write In The Rain is a popular brand of waterproof paper and they event make CERT-oriented products such as a field guide and ICS forms.

Are you identifiable?

Consider putting your name on your hardhat so there is no confusion as to who is being yelled at when a hazard is identified or you are urgently needed. Caution: If you put a headlamp on your hardhat, make sure it doesn’t obscure your name. Also, radio call signs are much less critical than names since not everyone will know what that means.

Easy access

What’s on your person is the most accessible and practical gear solution you can assemble. Invest in a good pair of cargo-style pants that can accommodate commonly-used items such as a folding knife, flashlight, bandanna, pen/paper, cell phone, keys, whistle, and compact escape tool.

Gear list

  • A Husky compact headlamp with an external battery was a big hit
  • A website called Do It Yourself Lettering provides adhesive vinyl that can be applied to hard hats; Chris Smith also owns a vinyl cutting machine
  • Consider buying a $10-15 Timex/Casio watch to throw on your bag so you always have a reliable timekeeping method
  • Milwaukee permanent markers are a cheap and reliable writing method. They are proven to write in dust, grease, and other less-than-ideal surfaces. Paint pens (railway markers) are also great writing tools.
  • LA Police Gear is a USA-made brand that designs their own products and offers them at very affordable prices. Notable gear includes the Urban Ops Pants and Atlas 24-hour Backpack.

We sincerely thank Station 5 C-Shift for hosting tonight’s class and for their invaluable insight during the entire discussion. Thanks, Joe, Michael, and Kevin!

See y’all next time.

CLICK HERE FOR PICTURES!

Harvard Lane Receives CERT Assistance

Thanks to well-equipped and neighborly Allen CERT member, Dave Campbell, a Harvard Lane resident has yard clear of debris from storms earlier this week. Dave spent the better part of Wednesday cutting and clearing trunk and limbs from a fallen pear tree in his neighbor’s front yard following Tuesday night’s storm.

Thank you, Dave, for showing the community what CERT is all about!

Recurring CERT Net

Allen CERT Amateur Radio Net

Join us the 1st and 3rd Tuesday evening of every month, 8:00-9:00 PM, for an amateur radio net aimed at training CERT responders in general radio practice and net control operations. The first net launches April 4th!

The net is hosted on the Allen CERT repeater; 441.300 MHz with a positive transmit offset and a PL tone of 179.9 Hz. If your radio was programmed by someone on the CERT communications team, the repeater is set as channel 004. A web chat will accompany the net so that non-licensees and/or non-equipped operators can still participate. If you do not have a Google/GMail account, one must be created (free of charge) in order to take advantage of this feature.

This net will have an informal agenda on the 1st Tuesday to provide enough time and opportunity for all operators to key their microphones and put some duty cycle on their equipment. However, the 3rd Tuesday of each month, the net will transform to a formal training that puts more focus on specific topics and may include guest speakers.

When

1st & 3rd Tuesday 8:00 – 9:00 PM

Where

Allen CERT Repeater 441.300 MHz+, 179.9 Hz
Online Click the video chat link in the calendar event
Lucas Repeater (alternate) 442.2125 MHz+, 91.5 Hz

Documentation

Flyer Click here
Script Click here
Minutes/Recordings Click here

Great American Cleanup

Have you ever driven by City Hall on an early spring Saturday morning and observed a mile-long line of vehicles with junk poking out of all the windows? Twice a year, The City of Allen hosts it’s Great American Cleanup which serves as a chance for Allen residents to “Dump or donate almost anything at Allen’s biggest cleanup event!”

But there’s a recurring problem; It’s less about the line of cars wrapped around Century Pkwy and more about the same cars as they navigate through the City Hall parking lot. That’s where we come in. The City has reached out to Allen CERT seeking help with overseeing the safety of volunteers in the parking lot.

To answer the call, we are looking for 6-8 volunteers (more welcome) for Saturday, April 15th, 07:30 – 13:00. If needed – and enough volunteers are involved – shifts can be established.

Sign Up

Volunteers
  • Chris Diltz
  • Shally Perez
  • Shannen Kelley
  • Paula Bramble
  • Rebecca Bennett
  • Jackie Sword

Earthfest

Allen CERT has been invited to participate in this year’s Earthfest Allen. Earthfest Allen is on Saturday, April 1 from 10 am to 2 pm at Dayspring Nature Preserve behind Boon Elementary. Attendance ranges from 1,500 to 5,000 people but an increase is expected this year because of the date, lack of conflict to other Earthfests in the North Texas area, and avoidance of Easter weekend.

According to organizer Josue Diaz, “Earthfest feels like a small town festival and is made up of mainly local non-profits and community groups. Every year we have about 40 different vendors. We’re looking to grow and expand this year to 55 vendors.”

Each vendor is required to offer an educational experience for visitors. This may include demonstrating a concept, allowing people to put on a gear, or something they can experience. “Typically people spend time talking to you,” says Josue. “It isn’t rushed like Allen USA. You’ll really get to connect.”

Vendors include:

  • In-Sync Exotics
  • Girl Scout Troop 3090
  • Dawson & Associates
  • The Connemara Conservancy
  • Girl Scout Troop 3568
  • Allen Garden Club
  • Girl Scout Troop 7204
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union
  • Keep Allen Beautiful
  • Water Conservation

The City of Allen markets Earthfest to the Allen Image and the Allen American publications. Flyers are distributed to every resident in Allen through the Utility Bill as an insert.

If you would like to help with hosting a table at Earthfest, reach out to Chris Diltz. You can also follow along via these outlets:

  • https://twitter.com/CityofAllenTX
  • https://twitter.com/K_A_B
  • http://www.cityofallen.org/
  • https://www.facebook.com/EarthfestAllen/