Category Archives: Newsletter 2017.06

Radio Tutorial Class

How well do you know your radio?

Perhaps not as well as you think; or so many of us have discovered over the past weeks, months, or years. Each exercise we organize results in a list of lessons learned and among them is always “more practice with radios”. To satisfy this hunger, we continue to implements communications into every event, look outside CERT to participate in “extra-curricular” activities that leverage amateur radio, and even set up a semi-monthly net to squeeze in more practice and exposure. But something is missing…

What about the radio itself?

If you are like most Allen CERT members, you own a Baofeng hand-held radio (UV-5R, UV-82, etc.). Furthermore, you likely had someone program it for you. But have you ever looked through the menu options? If so, you’ve seen the cryptic abbreviations. What do they mean?

An all-too-realistic scenario is that we are called to an area that uses a communications plan different from our default programming. In such cases, we will need the confidence to program certain frequencies on the fly.

Okay, I’m convinced. What can I do?

Save the date: June 15th, 6:30 PM @ Central

Some of our greatest minds have put together some excellent presentation material that will walk us through some practical programming techniques that will boost our confidence and capabilities. Topics include:

  • Menu options
  • Hidden features
  • Ad Hoc Programming
  • Best Practices
  • Personalization

Radio owners/operators, the team has spent hours and days putting together a presentation you don’t want to miss. If you don’t have a radio and/or a license, this class can still benefit you.

Simulated Dispatch Recap

Our latest dispatch and mobilization exercise was very successful and displayed surprising strengths that allow more capacity to focus on improvement opportunities and provide greater confidence in ability to perform this exercise semiannually.

Success Metrics

  • CERT members contacted: 129
  • CERT members acknowledged: 40
  • Total participants: 21
    • 19 Allen CERT
    • 2 friends/family
  • Total volunteer hours: 55
  • Lessons learned: 1 million

After Action Report

The draft After Action Report from our last Simulated Dispatch Exercise is now available. An After Action Report (AAR) is a post-exercise account intended to analyze exercise results, identify strengths to be maintained and built upon, identify potential areas for further improvement, and support development of corrective actions. Click here to access the report.

Roses & Thorns

Major Strengths

The major strengths identified during this exercise are as follows:

  • Comradery within the Allen CERT and with Allen Fire Rescue
  • Radio communications skill set and equipment
  • Continuity and recovery of leadership

Primary Areas for Improvement

Throughout the exercise, several opportunities for improvement in Allen CERT’s ability to respond to the incident were identified.  The primary areas for improvement, including recommendations, are as follows:

  • Mapping and navigational training, resources, and aids
  • No communications equipment/method for non-licensed operators (FRS/GMRS)
  • Length of time to establish EOC presence and plan

How did we do?

Your input is critical to the holistic evaluation and successful planning of future exercises. Whether you physically participated in the event or simply responded to the activate message, we want your feedback on the experience. Click here to submit your comments.

Conclusion

Overall this exercise was a success. All objectives were validated, assessed, and documented. The general consensus is this exercise should continue on a semi-annual basis to ensure Allen CERT stays poised to rapidly and effectively respond to the community in the time of need.

Pictures

Beyond CERT: Brent Wells

Brent Wells, Safety Boat Operator

We all have unique reasons for joining the CERT program but we all share a common denominator – a call to service – that pushes us to help out more than one area of our community. Each year, Allen CERT member Brent Wells volunteers his time and expertise to a group of competitive wind surfers, operating a safety boat with his friend to provide a lifeline for racers that may find themselves in potential trouble.

“Wind surfers are in great shape due to spending every weekend they can holding their sails against the wind.  On a good day, they will out run our safety boat which will go around 45 knots top speed,” says Brent. Even still, he “saw many of the racers swim for much of the distance as the winds were non-existent.” This increases the chance of needing a safety boat as surfers/swimmers can tire much sooner. Brent and his friend, Kevin Petersen, “pulled in a couple of racers who were just too tired to continue during the day Sunday.”

As with may events of this nature, a networked radio communications plan is established. Brent has years of experience with radio operations and recently acquired his FCC amateur radio license. This valuable skill set comes in handy as “we use marine radios to communicate with the base during the races.”

How does CERT apply?

Brent explains how CERT ties into his other facets of community service:

“It is more like helping out groups like NTWR led me to look for more ways to volunteer in my community, which led me to CERT.  Upon retirement, some people seem to find they feel like they no longer contribute or are needed.  I have never felt like that and one reason is probably the awesome feeling I get from helping out neighbors and good people like NTWR, or making new friends like the ones in CERT.  I feel blessed that I was given the opportunity and wherewithal to give back. Once I participated in CERT training (and later in CFA), I felt like I discovered a new group of like minded people that share my passion for helping out and volunteering to assist our important first responders when needed.  It helps me appreciate the larger good in our community to find people like the CERT team that make time from their busy schedules in order to be available and trained to help in tough situations without expecting a paycheck from it. I am certainly more confident now should I ever need to rescue a drowning windsurfer thanks to CERT and CFA.  The prior USCG training I received was too long ago and mostly outdated by now from a life saving standpoint.   While I would still be very nervous should that happen, I am confident I will not freeze nor do more harm than good.  And that helps keep me relaxed when I am out helping to keep these folks safe while they enjoy the lake.”

This year’s race took place on May 6-7 at the Dallas Corinthian Yacht Club (DCYC) in Little Elm. Brent is planning to support another race on the weekend of November 4th dubbed the “Pumpkin Cup”.

Do you have a Beyond CERT story of your own? Share it!

Disaster Preparedness at Your Fingertips

Take the first step toward emergency preparedness by downloading the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) app.

Did you know your smartphone can be an important tool to help you prepare?

Many people use mobile applications (apps) to receive updates on severe weather, help them plan for emergencies, and stay informed of community activities.

The Disaster Information Management Research Center compiled apps from various organizations to help you find appropriate and trustworthy applications including those from FEMA and the American Red Cross. These apps cover the following areas:

  • Family Reunification
  • American Red Cross Suite of Apps
  • Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Hazardous Substances
  • Medical and Health Information
  • Responder Support and Safety including field operations guides
  • Psychological Health Tools for staying emotionally healthy
  • S. Federal Agencies
  • Surveillance and Alerts such as disease outbreaks and severe weather warnings

Having preparedness information and planning tools literally at your fingertips is an easy way to take action now!

This article was taken from the weekly FEMA Community Preparedness e-Brief.

Keeping Valuables Safe

Keep Your Valuables Safe from Floods and Fires

Learn how to document, insure and protect your property in the event of an unexpected flood or fire.

You can use helpful, free checklists from Prepareathon  to Document and Insure Your Property and Protect Your Critical Documents and Valuables. By taking pictures of your belongings, you create an inventory of the valuables in your home. The Insurance Information Institute offers a free tool on Know Your Stuff.org, which allows you to create a home inventory with your smartphone, tablet or computer.

The below tips from Prepareathon’s Document and Insure Your Property checklist recommend you document, insure, and protect your property by:

·         Creating an inventory of your home or business. A detailed inventory of your property’s contents will help you prove the value of what you owned, which could speed your insurance claim processing, and will provide documentation for the tax deductions you can claim.

·         Ensuring you have appropriate insurance. Not all insurance policies are the same. Coverage amounts, deductibles, and payment caps can vary significantly. Consult with your insurance professional to be sure your policy is right for you.

·         Keeping vital records in a safe place. Store paper copies, or electronic copies on a flash or external hard drive in a waterproof and fireproof box, safe, or bank deposit box.

·         Storing policy numbers and contact information nearby. Keep your policy numbers, your insurance professional/company phone number, and claim filing instructions in a secure, convenient location.

For more information, visit Prepareathon, KnowYourStuff.org or download the Know Your Stuff app from the Apple Store or Google Play.

This article was taken from the weekly FEMA newsletter. To subscribe, click here

Have you voted? (UPDATED)

Update

The City Council Place 2 race has advanced to a runoff between Tabassum Ahmad and Carl Clemencich. Early voting for the runoff begins May 30 and runs through June 6. Election day is June 10. You can vote at City Hall and expect a very short line. VOTE!

Candidate # of Votes % of Total
Tabassum Ahmad 1401 29.58%
Carl Clemencich 2059 43.48%
Shirley Mangrum 1276 26.94%

Allen Elections

Early voting for the Allen mayoral and city council race is underway. For this race, the only polling location in Allen is at City Hall. Early voting hours and additional details are posted here: http://www.cityofallen.org/1686/Voter-Information

The candidates for Mayor and City Council Place 2 are as follows (click each name to visit campaign website):

Mayor

Steve Terrell (incumbent)
Naomi Emmett

Councilmember Place 2

Tabassum “Munia” Ahmad
Carl Clemencich
Shirley Mangrum

Click here to see a sample ballot