Category Archives: Newsletter 2018.09

Basic Training 2018

Our fall G-317 course kicks off next Thursday evening, September 6th, and continues weekly through October 25th plus a disaster simulation on Saturday, October 27th.

At the end of October, we expect to add 20+ new members to the Allen CERT family. As always, existing members are always welcome to attend any of the classes for refresher training or just to observe/assist.

As a reminder, the sequence of modules has been reordered this year to optimize the learning path. For the full schedule, visit our calendar.

Disaster Simulation

This year our disaster simulation will be held October 27th. We are on track for this to be as big as last year!! Great news for our program!

If you are interested in helping out this year, please reply to the simulation email box below. We will start meeting toward the end of August and meet once a week for an hour ahead of the simulation. The time commitment is not huge, just be aware that the week or two right before the simulation will require a little extra time.

Damage Assessment Recap

Last week, we had the pleasure of hosting meteorology and damage assessment experts Tim Marshall and Carson Eads at Central Fire Station. Their presentation was both intriguing and eye-opening. In Ken Langley’s words:

The training brought together members from the Plano, McKinney and Allen CERT teams to hear Carson Eads and Tim Marshall talk about a real world case study from the 2015 tornadoes in the Dallas area. Tim has a master’s degree in both meteorology and structural engineering which enables him to view storms and storm damage from a unique perspective. Tim stated that building codes require structures to withstand 90 mile per hour wind when measured at 10 meters. These codes have very specific requirements for attaching building to the slabs, securing the 2nd floor of homes and roof construction. However; for economic reasons, many homes and building do not always comply to all the code requirements. Tim and Carson showed numerous examples of small mistakes during construction that may not be detected by an inspector can result in a home or building that while it looks good may not be able to withstand wind forces generated by relatively small wind or tornado events. Once the sheet rock is installed, it becomes very expensive to check or correct the problems.

During our basic training, we are taught that a CERT team should always assess damage before entering a building or home and only enter a structure with light or moderate damage. This training highlighted how a structure may appear to have only light or moderate damage yet due to construction short falls, would be unsafe to enter.

The big takeaway from this training was; if your team decides to enter a damaged structure, be very cautious to not step on or move building materials that may be supporting walls or other parts of the structure.

A big thanks to Carson and Tim for sharing their expertise, to Plano and McKinney CERT for joining us, and to Ken Langley for organizing the event.

100 Deadly Skills for a Disaster

Pick up some tips & tricks, and meet a celebrity!

Plano CERT is hosting the one-and-only Clint Emerson on October 16th, 6:30 PM, at the Plano OEM, and they have extended the invitation to Allen CERT.

Clint Emerson is a Navy Seal, business owner, best-selling author, and survival instructor. His book, 100 Deadly Skills was on the New York Times Best Seller list and he travels the world teaching everyday folks how to increase their chances of surviving the worst day of their lives.

He is visiting Plano CERT to share, what he calls, “100 Deadly Skills in a Disaster”.

Space Is Limited

…so register now by emailing Judith Aubrey at with the following information:

  • First and Last Name
  • Jurisdiction (Allen CERT)


Easy DIY Scanner for $100

Monitor Fire/Police Radio

Interested in being able to monitor Fire/Police radio channels on the new P25 Phase 2 radio system? We have identified a cost effective way to accomplish this using a Raspberry Pi  3 Model 3+ Linux computer system, with a  RTL-SDR software defined radio receiver and a very simple internal antenna.  The total cost for these components should be approximately $100.00.  The needed items can be purchased via the Internet  (Amazon Prime).  Once you have purchased the items listed in the package below, we can assist you in programming the micro SD memory card, used by the Raspberry Pi.  The configuration will allow you to monitor any unencrypted Police/Fire radio channel operating on the Plano PAWM (Plano, Allen, Wiley, Murphy) radio system you may be interested in.

The Parts

We have assembled a recommended parts list for your convenience. All of the items can be purchased on Amazon so if you have a Prime membership, you can be up and running in less than a week.

Click here for the full list

Price (as of 8/24/18)
RTL-SDR Blog R820T2 RTL2832U 1PPM TCXO SMA Software Defined Radio (Dongle Only) RTL-SDR Software Defined Radio $21.95
CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3 B+ (B Plus) with Premium Clear Case and 2.5A Power Supply Raspberry Pi 3b+, with case and power supply $59.99
Micro-SD card, 32 GB, with adapter $8.87
Scanner antenna $10.99
Portable Bluetooth speaker with aux-in $15.99
3.5 mm audio cable $4.99
Total Cost $122.80

The speaker, audio cable and micro-SD card can be swapped out at your preference, or replaced with items you already have at home.


Once you have the parts, contact Mike Pruden for assistance with configuring the Raspberry Pi to receive and decode the radio transmissions. With this setup, you simply power on the system and start listening!