Category Archives: Training

2017 Disaster Simulation Debrief

Every year, a fresh group of Allen residents put 8 weeks and 24 hours of classroom training to the test by being throw into the ultimate simulated disaster. For the students, this day is a critical step to convert training into experience. However, equally important, is the opportunity for the Allen CERT program to exercise old and new tactics for managing an incident, and setting the class up for success. Following each simulated disaster, we make it a priority to sit around the table and evaluate our methods to ensure we are continually improving planning and execution for future classes. This year was no different, and the team – made up of veteran and brand new members – pulled together a robust list of strengths and opportunities identified in this year’s exercise that will translate into a better experience next year.

Big Wins

We set several new records this year; First, by facilitated the largest class in Allen CERT history this year with 44 students (now members) participating in the final exercise.

A large-scale call to action resulted in over 110 volunteers from around Allen playing various victim roles.

32 Allen CERT members showed up on “simulation day” to contribute 340 hours to the event’s success.

We also implemented new tools and techniques, such as reusable triage cards and a magnetic ICS accountability board, both of which proved valuable.

Key Strengths

Many of the volunteer victims were “walking wounded” which added more chaos to the mix and tested the class’ ability to clear the fog of a disaster scene.

The class managed to complete the exercise in record time!


Following the exercise, AFD 5C-shift hosted a panel discussion that was very engaging, helped stitch together holistic operations, and allowed the class an opportunity to evaluate their strengths.

To top it off, we were extremely fortunate to have transportation and security graciously donated by the Allen Independent School District!

Key Improvement Opportunities

Communications is one our strongest pillars and remains so because we prioritize its ongoing evaluation.

This year is no different and we recognized several opportunities to simplify, expand, and/or improve our disaster simulation communications model.

Resource check-in was quickly bottle-necked which resulted in a slow start to search and rescue operations. This was largely caused by the sheer size of the class but, with the increasing forecast of future classes, some excellent ideas were proposed for mitigating this in the future – a solution is being tested already with great initial results.

We quickly discovered that 110 volunteer victims introduce more oversight and management complexity. Going forward, a more robust briefing, instructions, and management model will help mitigate volunteer/responder confusion.


We make a huge effort to implement new tools and tactics into each disaster simulation which undoubtedly produces both positive and negative results. We consider this success because, without negative results, we do not innovate.

Hat tip to Traci Reavis for organizing this year’s (and past years’) disaster simulation and facilitating the debrief.

We are all looking forward to next  year!

Emergency Communications Class

If you are a licensed radio operator for CERT, this is what you’ve been waiting for!

On Thursday, November 16th, 7:00 PM at Central Station, the Allen CERT Communications team will host a training event aimed at teaching the basics of emergency communications, as well as cover essential hardware operations for Baofeng radios.

Topics include:

  • Proper hardware positioning
  • Antenna orientation
  • Radio vernacular
  • Call sign protocols
  • Do’s and Don’ts
  • Field operations

Radio programming services will be provided so don’t forget to bring those radios.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to cover two topics in one sitting, and walk away a more capable radio operator for CERT functions.

Welcome New Members

Allen CERT is proud to have added 44 new Responders to the roster this weekend, making this the largest class in our 12-year history!

On Saturday, November 4th, 44 Allen Residents wrapped up 24 hours of robust emergency response training with a simulated disaster that put their new skill set to the test.


Please join us in welcoming and congratulating our new family members:

Adriana Alvarez, Darcy Baldwin, Nate Bramble, Rebecca Buehner, Marcus Christiansen, Diana Clary, David Dobrenic, Mardi Echols, William Echols, Matthew Foster, Malachi Hackett, Wendell Hernandez, April Hoffman, Jaylene Hughes, Don Kaczkowski, Brendan Kilgore, John Korb, Christopher Kumnick, Melissa Kumnick, Ken Langley, Melissa LeVasseur, Crystal Lyons, Ashish Mody, Nidhi Mody, Carolyn Morgeson, Jeremey Olson, Ty Osborne, Ronald Perez, Ronnie Perez, Eleonore Pieper, Stephanie Potter, Tom Potter, Simon Shepherd, Judith Siemers, Michelle Sigle, Kimberly Smith, Bhaskar Srinivasan, Rebecca Stamey, Joseph Strand, Alexandra Thomas, David Vickers, Ty Westfall, Joe Wilson, Angelina Woods

We look forward to seeing you all again at the meetings and events to come.


ClassDisaster Simulation

Psychological First Aid Training

CERT Members:

In light of the recent disasters, we strongly encourage our CERT members to be trained in Psychological First Aid. After a disaster, the psychological effects are usually more widespread than the physical effects. This online training will be helpful to you and those around you when deployed to a disaster.

After talking to our CERT Coordinator, Chris Diltz, we decided if you take this online class, you can count this toward your volunteer time.  When you are done, send a note to Chris at with a scanned or photographed copy of your certificate of completion, along with how much time you took for the class.

John R. S. Mascio / K5RYU

Psychological First Aid Course Description:

PFA online includes a 6-hour interactive course that puts the participant in the role of a provider in a post-disaster scene. This professionally-narrated course is for individuals new to disaster response who want to learn the core goals of PFA, as well as for seasoned practitioners who want a review. It features innovative activities, video demonstrations, and mentor tips from the nation’s trauma experts and survivors. PFA online also offers a Learning Community where participants can share about experiences using PFA in the field, receive guidance during times of disaster, and obtain additional resources and training.   Click the link below to start the training.

Enroll For The Online Self-Paced Course:

For more info:




Basic Training Orientation

We are thrilled to have met our 2017 class Thursday evening at Central Fire station for CERT Orientation. With over 65 applications for Basic Training this year, we will certainly have a full class. With our potential class size triple the average, we have developed some creative innovations that will further set this year apart from others.

As always, CERT members are welcome to attend any classes for refresher training or general assistance.

We still have open seats for class this year so spread the word to family, friends, and coworkers. Applications are due by September 1st. See application for course dates.

Best of luck to our prospective members!

Technician Course & Exam

Save the Date

The Plano Amateur Radio Club will be presenting a Technician level amateur radio class on August 12th and 13th, 2017. The class will be held 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.  Lucas is located just east of Allen, TX off US Hwy 75 at the Bethany Rd. Exit.

What to Bring

As always, the class is free, the EXAM is $14.00 cash. We are looking at a timeframe of 8:00am- 5:00pm on Saturday and 9:00am- 2:00pm on Sunday, with the EXAM starting at 3:00 on Sunday.  Parking should be available on the south side of the fire station.  A government issued photo ID will be required to take the exam on Sunday afternoon (FCC Requirement).

Other amateur radio class exams (General, Extra) will also be available for those wishing to take those exams. You need to bring a copy of your current amateur radio license to do so.

How to Prepare

To prepare for this class, we urge you to pick up a copy of the Ham Radio School’s Technician Class study guide prior to the class, and read through the course material at least once. 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 the study guide, and marking any items that you have questions about, and then pay attention and ask questions during the 2-day training class, there is an excellent probability that you will pass the exam with a high score.

These study guides are available 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 $19.95.

We also have many used study guides available, which we can loan you for $14.00 cash security deposit.  When you return these used study guides, in good condition (not marked up or dog eared), your $14.00 security deposit will be applied to the $14.00 cost to take the examination.  Basically, we save you the cost of buying the study guide.

Sign Up

To register for this class, or if you have additional questions, please send an email to Mike Pruden (NN5ZZ@ARRL.NET). Please provide:

  • Name
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Organization (e.g., CERT), if applicable
  • Indicate if you need a study guide

Disaster Animal Response


Most, if not all, of us are animal lovers. But, have you thought about how to consider animals in, and after, a disaster? Join us July 13th, 6:30 PM at the Central Fire Station training room to learn more about animal disaster preparedness and emergency response considerations. Special guest, Allison Harper, with the Allen Animal Shelter will lead the training and answer questions.

Don’t miss this one!

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.


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.


1st & 3rd Tuesday 8:00 – 9:00 PM


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


Flyer Click here
Script Click here
Minutes/Recordings Click here