Category Archives: Newsletter 2019.04

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


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