2013 Training Archive

Training Archive: 2013

Training presented during the weekly net in 2013


2013 Week 1: FEMA training and documentation for ARES members

2013 Week 2: FEMA ICS Courses

2013 Week 3: Emergency Management e-Mag

2013 Week 4: Information Security


2013 Week 5: SKYWARN and other weather training

2013 Week 6: More weather training

2013 Week 7: The Natural Hazards Center

2013 Week 8: FEMA College Credit

2013 Week 9: FEMA PDS Courses


2013 Week 10: Ohio EMA Training

2013 Week 11: Family Preparedness Training

2013 Week 12: Distributed Denial of Service attacks


2013 Week 13: Master Exercise Practitioners

2013 Week 14: Net training feedback


2013 Week15: No Self Deployment

2013 Week16: Psychological First Aid


2013 Week 17. First Aid and CPR Training

2013 Week 18. Monitoring non-amateur bands

2013 Week 19.  National Shelter System


2013 Week 20. Responder Safety

2013 Week 21: Red Cross training and Operational Support web sites

2013 Week 22:  Red Cross Mobile Phone Apps


2013 Week 23. NCBRT Training

2013 Week 24. RDPC Training

2013 Week 25. National Preparedness Month


2013 Week 26. IPAWS

2013 Week 27. ReliefWeb

2013 Week 28. Resource Management Training

2013 Week 29. Free Red Cross Training


2013 Week 30: Yarnell Hill Fire After Action

2013 Week 31: Impact of Federal Shutdown

2013 Week 32: Working around the Federal Shutdown

2013 Week 33: GeoCONOPS Training


2013 Week 34:  International Disaster Response

2013 Week 35: USFA Coffee Break Training


2013 Week 36: FEMA Online Catalog

2013 Week 37: Preliminary Damage Assessment Training

2013 Week 38: AUXFOG 

1: FEMA training and documentation for ARES members

Effective January 1, 2013 Ohio Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) Matt Welch, W8DEC, has requested that all Ohio ARES members submit either .PDF copies of their FEMA Emergency Management Institute (EMI) training certificates or an EMI transcript.

These items are to be sent to Assistant SEC Scott Phillips, N8SX, at n8sx@arrl.net and to your county Emergency Coordinator (EC).  The email address for your county EC is located on the Ohio District 3 ARES web site.

The SEC requests that every Ohio ARES member complete the following EMI courses or their equivalents:

EMI IS-100.b – Introduction to Incident Command System, or National Fire Academy Q462, or any classroom version of ICS-100.

IS-700.a – National Incident Management System (NIMS), An Introduction.

EMI IS-200.b – ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents, or National Fire Academy Q463, or any classroom version of ICS-200.
IS-800.B – National Response Framework (NRF), An Introduction.

There are many ways to locate these courses on the internet.  A short internet address that I find useful is http://training.fema.gov/IS/NIMS.asp .  This will take you to a page listing all four of the EMI courses requested by the SEC.
On this page you will note several versions of IS-100 and IS-200 targeted to different fields.  If you plan to be employed in one of these fields in the future, I suggest taking that course.  Otherwise take the plain vanilla version.  In practice all versions meet NIMS requirements.

If firefighting is in your future plans, consider taking National Fire Academy courses Q462 and Q463.  That internet address is http://www.usfa.fema.gov/nfa/nfaonline/browse/im.shtm .  You may submit .PDF copies of these instead of IS-100.b and IS-200.b.  Also acceptable are certificates from classroom versions of ICS-100 or ICS-200 if you have taken those in the past.

2: ICS Courses

Last week Matt, W8DEC, the Ohio Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC), requested .pdf copies or transcripts of any FEMA Emergency Management Institute (EMI) courses that Ohio ARES members have completed.  These should be emailed to Assistant SEC Scott at n8sx@arrl.net and your county Emergency Coordinator (EC).  He further asked that all Ohio ARES members complete IS-100.b, IS-700.a, IS-200.b and IS-800.B.  But what should these courses teach ARES members?

IS-100.b is an introduction to the concept of the Incident Command System (ICS).  It introduces basic definitions that all emergency responders need to know, such as Incident Commander, Safety Officer, Command Post and Emergency Operations Center.

IS-700.a explains how the Incident Command System fits in with the other components of the National Incident Management System.

IS-200.b returns to the Incident Command System to show where individual responders fit into the ICS.

IS-800.B introduces the concept of the National Response Framework, the master plan for adding Federal responders to incidents where local and state responders are already committed.
Next week’s program will consider a source for emergency management readings with emergency communications (EMCOMM) in mind.

3: EM e-Mag

Our first two 2013 programs discussed four FEMA independent study programs that the Ohio SEC requested of all Ohio ARES members.  This third program offers some free, but completely optional, readings on various emergency management topics.  After all, we wouldn’t want to neglect those ARES members who have already completed their four FEMA courses.

Emergency Management is an e-magazine published bimonthly for the responder community.  While some articles may be of limited interest to most ARES members, others should get the attention of nearly all of us.  For example, the cover story of the January-February 2013 issue is Black Hole of Communication, five pages about Superstorm Sandy.  Another, The Catastrophic Outage, considers what might occur if a power outage lasted for months instead of weeks.

ARES members who wish to request a subscription to Emergency Management should apply at their website, www.emergencymgmt.com.
Next week we look at free online computer security training.

4: Info Security

This week we return to the subject of free online training.  Most ARES members rely on computers, and most also know that computer security is a bigger issue each year.  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has funded a series of online computer security courses.  These awareness level courses are intended for members of the responder community.

AWR-175-W, Information Security for Everyone, is a ten hour introduction to the field.  It is offered on the website of the National Emergency Response & Rescue Training Center (NERRTC), part of the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) of the Texas A&M University System.  To check into the course, go to http://www.teex.org/NERRTC/ and click on the Information Technology Online Training button.  TEEX is a confusing website, so follow their instructions carefully when returning to register for and take the course.

After you complete AWR-175-W there are nine additional computer courses on this site.  If you complete any of these, please email Mike Schulsinger at n8qhv@arrl.net with your opinion of the value of this training.

5: SKYWARN Training

Our annual Skywarn Weather Spotter training season is approaching, and we encourage all Ohio District 3 ARES members to attend a training session near them every couple of years.  For most ARES members two hours of weather training every few years is enough.  But what if you are interested in a weather topic that isn’t covered in these opportunities?

On Friday, March 22, 2013 the Ohio State University Meteorology Club will host its 17th Annual Severe Weather Symposium.  The location will be the Fawcett Center on the west side of the OSU main campus, one of the few places on campus where parking is free.  This has historically been an 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM activity with an hour break for lunch.  Details are still being released, so check www.geography.osu.edu/metclub weekly for further information.

Then on Saturday, March 23rd the Wilmington National Weather Service office will conduct an Advanced Spotter Training class from 1 to 5 PM at the Golder Conference Center, Bethesda North Hospital, 10500 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, Ohio.  To preregister for this free training, go to the Wilmington NWS home page and click on the Advanced Class scheduled link.

For our next program, what if you want still more free weather training?

6: More weather training

Before I begin the program I have updates to Program 5.  The location of the 17th Annual Severe Weather Symposium at OSU has moved, and there is now a link on their Metclub website to a registration and parking pass page.  Dr. Josh Wurman, who developed the Doppler on Wheels, is on the list of speakers, and there will also be a presentation on the 1913 Dayton Flood.

Last week I threatened to supply more free weather training opportunities, so now I’m making good on that promise.

You can spend months on the MedEd website.  It offers hundreds of free online weather and climate related training opportunities, from one hour modules for middle school students to two week-long cross-training courses for working meteorologists.  Available topics include aviation weather, tsunamis, tropical weather, fire weather, hydrology, polar weather and climate change.

Go to www.meted.ucar.edu and click the “Sign Up” button.  Next, select the “Education & Training” button and look over the various modules.  Each module will have a colored numeral between zero and three associated with it.  Stick to skill levels zero or one, the easiest modules, unless you have some training in meteorology or have experience as a masochist!

7: The Natural Hazards Center

Tonight we visit the website of the Natural Hazards Center.  The center is part of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and offers a number of publications, mostly free.  The web address is www.colorado.edu/hazards/ .

For the past fifteen years one of my favorite free newsletters has been their Natural Hazards Observer.  The January 2013 edition is twenty-four pages of disaster commentary, short articles, book reviews and upcoming conference announcements.  Much of the content is directed at disaster academics, but I have learned something new with almost every issue.

The Natural Hazards Center can send you notifications when new issues of the Observer are released.  Just supply your name and email address, then answer a few questions.  A subscription to the print edition of this every-other-month newsletter is also available for $15 per year.

So far our programs have discussed things that you can do to benefit District 3.  Our next program will discuss a benefit for those who take FEMA Independent Study courses – undergraduate college credit!

8: FEMA College Credit

If you have been to the FEMA independent study website you may have noticed that academic credit is available for many of these courses.  Frederick Community College in Maryland, accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, is a school similar to District 3’s Clark State, Edison or Sinclair Community Colleges.  It has partnered with FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute to offer up to 50 semester hours of undergraduate credit for online courses.

After completing qualifying courses at the EMI website, you can switch over to a non-governmental site, www.em-study.com.  There you can buy semester hour credits from Frederick Community College.  Not only is the cost of these credits less than at our community colleges, you won’t need to purchase textbooks, pay student fees or obtain a parking pass.

To use the previously discussed IS-100.b and 200.b as examples, a student completing both courses may purchase the one semester hour Frederick course FEM 150, Incident Command System.  The same student completing IS-700.a, 702.a and 703.a may buy FEM 151, National Incident Management System.

If you intend to use these credits to work toward an undergraduate degree, make sure that the college granting your degree will accept these Frederick Community College transfer credits.  Many schools will, but none are required to.

9: FEMA PDS Courses

If you have taken IS-100, 700, 200 and/or 800 on the Emergency Management Institute website you may have looked over some of the other course offerings.  Another item that might draw your attention is the reference to the FEMA Professional Development Series.

The PDS is a group of seven EMI independent study courses that give the person taking them a solid understanding of the basics of emergency management.  You can take the courses in any order and at your own pace.

The EMI keeps track of your independent study course completions, and shortly after you pass the last of your seven final exams your Professional Development Series certificate should automatically be sent to you as an email attachment.

If you’d like to get further into emergency management, a PDS certificate is a good start.  To learn more, go to http://training.fema.gov/emiweb/PDS/ .

A future program will discuss the next level – the FEMA Advanced Professional Series certificate.

10: Ohio EMA Training

Some ARES members are also affiliated with a local fire department, law enforcement agency, health department or emergency management agency.  If you are an ARES member also credentialed by one of these agencies, you may wish to look into the training opportunities available through the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.

The Ohio EMA conducts courses at the state Emergency Operations Center on Ohio State Route 161, and at other locations hosted by county Emergency Management Agencies.  The one to three day courses cover damage assessment, storm debris management, public information, and the use of National Weather Service forecasting products.

Over the course of two or three years, regular attendees of these courses can complete most of the requirements for FEMA’s Advanced Professional Series certificate.

Ohio EMA courses are free, and may include a motel room for ARES District 3 members attending at the state EOC.  But transportation and meals are not covered by the state.  To look over the courses available, go to http://ema.ohio.gov/Training.aspx .  If you see one of interest, get your response agency supervisor’s permission to apply.  Then set up your account on the training site and register.

11: Family Preparedness Training

Emergency response organizations have learned over the years is that disaster staff, both paid and volunteer, must have their work, home, family and pet situations under control before they can be deployed to help others.  FEMA has recognized these issues and its Emergency Management Institute has prepared several Independent Study courses in response.

IS-909, Community Preparedness: Implementing Simple Activities for Everyone might be a good starting place.

IS-394.A, Protecting Your Home or Small Business from Disaster, followed by:

IS-22, Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness might be next.

Finally, the northern District 3 counties especially should take IS-325, Earthquake Basics: Science, Risk and Mitigation to prepare their homes for possible damaging earthquakes. All IS courses are available at training.fema.gov

12: Distributed Denial of Service attacks

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, the internet suffered its worst cyber assault ever earlier today (Wednesday, March 27, 2013).  A Distributed Denial of Service attack was launched against Spamhaus, a British/Swiss firm that blocks internet sites known to generate spam.  The probable attackers were eastern Europeans suspected of generating such spam.

To learn more about Distributed Denial of Service attacks, go to www.teexwmdcampus.com and sign up for its free Department of Homeland Security cyber security courses.  The two I would start with are CYBER 173-WInformation Security Basics, or CYBER 175-WInformation Security for Everyone.As mentioned last January,  there are eight additional cyber security courses on this Texas Engineering EXtension website, as well as AWR-160Terrorism Awareness for Emergency First Responders.

13: Master Exercise Practitioners

Many Ohio District 3 ARES members have participated in one or more emergency exercises with their county, hospital, airport or business.  Many of these exercises are planned and evaluated by FEMA certified Master Exercise Practitioners, or MEPs.

MEPs start by taking nine Emergency Management Institute Independent Study courses, followed by a Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) course at the Ohio EMA.  Finally, qualified MEP candidates are selected to attend the three week long Master Exercise Practitioner Program (MEPP) at the Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

MEPP selectees have their room and transportation paid, but must buy EMI meal tickets while at the institute.  Anyone completing the MEPP may add the letters MEP after their name.  I bring this up because retired ARES members might be good candidates for the program.  The 2013 EMI application window for the MEPP begins May 1st and ends July 1st.

For complete information on the MEPP, visit http://training.fema.gov .

14: Net training feedback

Now that we have three months of programs behind us, it’s time to look at whether they have been of value to you or not.  With a new District Emergency Coordinator in place, this is a good time to solicit feedback regarding the first 13 programs.  If you wish, you may review them at https://www.ohd3ares.org .  Go to the NET INFO button along the top and select TRAINING from the drop down list.

If you feel that the programs are a complete waste of time, contact District 3 DEC Bob Rhodes at kc8whk@arrl.net.  All Ohio District 3 ARES net volunteers serve at his pleasure, so he needs to know if this, or any other portion of the net, is a problem for you.

If you have a topic that you would like to learn more about, or a topic you already know about and would like to share with the net, please contact Mike Schulsinger at n8qhv@arrl.net .

Most people who check into the net do not respond to such requests, so the few who do wield a great deal of power regarding the future direction of these programs.

15: No Self Deployment

Ohio District 3 ARES program, Wednesday, May 22, 2013

This morning Matt Welch, W8DEC, the Ohio ARES SEC, sent an email to Ohio ARRL members regarding the Moore, OK tornado.  He stated that he had not received any requests for ham radio assistance to the affected area, and asked Ohio ARES members not to self-deploy.  Why is self-deployment such a problem?

1.      Security.  Police officers, firefighters, emergency managers, Red Cross staff and others affiliated with national response organizations arrive on the scene with completed background checks.  Without such a check you are unlikely to be admitted to the affected area, the emergency operations centers, the command posts, the shelters, the kitchens, the day care facilities, etc.  You will just be taking up space until your check is completed.

2.      Limited resources.  Anyone who has ever attended Field Day knows that hams consume disproportionate amounts of liquids, food and restroom facilities, all of which are in short supply in disaster areas.

3.      Need.  Hams are a vital communications resource during the first hours of every large disaster.  However, the simple fact is that if you drop everything to jump into your camper and race to Oklahoma, by the time you arrive the need for emergency communications volunteers has generally passed.  Hams are most valuable in and near their ARES districts.  There will occasionally be exceptions to this rule, such as ice storms and hurricanes, but most disasters will never require hams to deploy from other states.

16: Psychological First Aid

It should come as no surprise that any ARES member responding to a disaster needs skills beyond his or her knowledge of ham radio.  One that you might not think of initially is a brief coursein Psychological First Aid, or PFA.  Psychological First Aid may be useful when dealing with disaster victims, with you fellow disaster responders or even as a coping strategy for yourself.

Like traditional first aid, PFA is a way to patch up people affected by disaster until they can be properly treated by clergy, social workers and/or mental health professionals.  Everyone responding to disasters would benefit from a day of PFA training.

The American Red Cross offers Psychological First Aid classes to its volunteer and paid staff.  Contact your local chapter for training near you.

The Pennsylvania and Ohio Public Health Training Center offers Stress Response During Disasters: An Overview for Healthcare Workers.
A third option is the 6 hour online Psychological First Aid course from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.  You can register for it at 

17. First Aid and CPR Training

Over the past 5 months we’ve discussed many things that ARES members can do to prepare for disasters within their communities.  But I think that I neglected to mention one of the very first steps.

All ARES members should attempt to somehow obtain and maintain their first aid and CPR training.  The American Red Cross and the American Heart Association provide these courses in many communities, and there are commercial providers on-line as well.

If you are a registered volunteer for your local Red Cross chapter, the staff may be able to provide you with a code that allows you to take Red Cross first aid and CPR at no charge.  If not, your workplace may provide no-fee classes.

Many 911 centers can now walk you through first aid and CPR steps in the field, but in cases where time is critical the few minutes necessary to teach you might be better spent actually treating the patient!

18. Monitoring non-amateur bands

Listening to emergencies unfolding elsewhere can be very instructive for an ARES member.  You can learn what communications techniques work well by monitoring radio traffic from jurisdictions that handle disasters every year.  An example pulled from today’s news might be tuning in Colorado Springs, Colorado, during one of their frequent wildfires.

The live scanner feeds from the Radio Reference website are in the process of migrating to http://www.broadcastify.com/ .  The site currently claims 3,500 such feeds.  Any internet device with sound capability can be used to follow these transmissions.

If you enjoy the tornado chases on the Weather Channel and other cable stations, take a peek at www.whiotv.com/livestormtrackers/ .  Dozens of chasers stream video, and often audio, as they race along Interstate highways trying to spot severe weather.  Some chase hurricanes as well!

If computers aren’t your thing, listening to emergencies unfold via AM radio can be riveting as well.  A good quality AM radio, a list of clear channel stations and a little practice can bring the incident right into your listening post.

19. National Shelter System

Computer savvy ARES members with time on their hands might wish to look into helping their local Red Cross chapter as a National Shelter System (NSS) volunteer.  The NSS is a nationwide computer database designed to list all disaster shelters in the country.  There are over 55,000 shelters at present, many with a map of the shelter location attached.

The NSS actually consists of two separate databases – one maintained by the American National Red Cross and one operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  They exchange information regularly and are essentially interchangeable.  FEMA inputs information about government run and independent shelters, and the American Red Cross staff inputs information about Red Cross managed or partnered shelters.

In a large emergency, such as a fire involving many apartments, the Red Cross chapter will open a shelter rather than filling up an entire motel with their fire clients.  The Dayton Area Chapter did just that last week for an apartment complex fire in Trotwood.
NSS volunteers are trained to initiate an event in the system, open one or more shelters to support that event, report the populations of their shelters once or twice a day, close the shelters as their populations reach zero and close out the event that they opened days or weeks earlier.  When not working on a disaster, which is most of the time, NSS volunteers can update details about the shelters their chapter maintains in the database.  Michael, N8QHV, maintains about 100 NSS shelters in addition to conducting some specialized mapping work for National.

For more information about the NSS, visit your Red Cross chapter or contact N8QHV at Michael.schulsinger@redcross.org.

20. Responder Safety

When professionals respond to an emergency their top priority is generally to be able to go home when the emergency is over – in other words, responder safety is number one!  A perfect example from this week’s news was the local tree trimmer who made contact with high voltage lines and was critically injured.  Any attempt to rescue him before power was disconnected might have seriously harmed several rescuers without improving his odds of survival.

Activated ARES members must think along similar lines.  You must weigh any risks to yourself against the possible benefits to others.  Red Cross First Aid training teaches us to survey the scene of any accident prior to attempting assistance.  One injured person might require the assistance of three paramedics and a medic unit, but one injured person plus an injured would-be rescuer would require double those resources.

Disaster areas are inherently dangerous places.  Many years ago two Red Cross volunteers I knew were assaulted while serving in the US Virgin Islands.  One, a retired police officer, required stitches!  They were out after dark and were not paying attention to their surroundings.

Today my Red Cross chapter was asked by one of our village governments to help two campers who reportedly lost most of their possessions in the thunderstorm.  We offered some services, and the village agreed to transport the pair to a local motel for us.  But when the transportation turned out to be a police car and the officer, as a safety measure, insisted on viewing the contents of the bags they had saved, the pair declined and started walking rapidly out of the county!

Paid or volunteer, responder safety should be number one.

21 Red Cross training and Operational Support web sites

The American Red Cross has a number of interlinked websites for the use of both volunteer and paid staff.  In addition, there are two sites open to the general public.

The main site available to all is at http://www.redcross.org/ .  From the top of this home page you can find buttons to take first aid and CPR classes, shop for Red Cross clothing items or continuing education credits or join a nearby chapter as a volunteer.

Another site open to everyone is the American Red Cross Learning Center (SABA), https://classes.redcross.org/ .  Most online Red Cross classes are taken here, as are the online portions of blended learning classes.

Volunteer Connection https://volunteerconnection.redcross.org/ is a resource for volunteers only.  Chapter information for volunteer use is posted here, and volunteers post their hours worked on this site as well.

The Exchange, https://intranet.redcross.org/ is where staff now goes to get the Disaster Operations Center daily report, blank Red Cross forms, background information about classes (not class dates), press releases and much more.

Remote Email Access, http://www.redcross.org/arcmail , allows staff to manage their Red Cross emails.  See your chapter for a Red Cross email account.

The National Shelter System site, https://nss.communityos.org/ gives you access to over 55,000 Red Cross, FEMA and other shelters.
There are other Red Cross sites, but we will let those go for now.

22 Red Cross Mobile Phone Apps

Over the years I’ve learned that almost everyone is better able to afford a smart phone than I am.  I try not to be bitter about that, but it does mean that phone apps are strangers to me.  Last week we examined several Red Cross websites, and this week we will consider their smart phone apps.

If you have either an iPhone or an Android, the first Red Cross App I would look at is the First Aid App.  This app is useful for everyday emergencies even if you are unable to access a cellular tower or the internet, although it will not be able to dial any emergency numbers for you.

Their Volunteer App, also available for both iPhone and Android, is a tool to properly place new volunteers within the Red Cross system.
Red Cross Apps are also available to help you handle four different types of disasters – tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires.  Ohio District 3 sometimes sees tornadoes, and occasionally experiences earthquakes.  The others may be useful to you when traveling.

Finally the Red Cross Shelter Finder App is only available for iPhones at this time.  This app displays a map showing any open Red Cross shelters and permits you to zoom in to examine these open shelters in more detail.

To look into any of these, go to http://www.redcross.org/prepare/mobile-apps .  Tell me what you think about them, because it may be years before I can afford a smart phone!

23. NCBRT Training

I recently received the 2013 training catalog from the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training at Louisiana State University.  The NCBRT conducts 21 different counter-terrorism courses around the country, with all expenses paid under a FEMA grant.

Naturally, many people cannot arrange to attend these courses, so a dozen of them are also available in free, on-line versions.  ARES members in rural areas may be interested in AWR-117-W, Preparing Communities for Agroterrorism.  AWR-203-W, Citizen Ready: Pandemic Influenza may be of value to anyone.  Five of these courses, AWR-190-W through AWR-195-W were originally prepared for American Red Cross use.

For more about these courses, visit http://www.ncbrt.lsu.edu/ .

24. RDPC Training

Two weeks ago we covered a training catalog I received from the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training.  A few days later I received another training catalog from the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium.  The RDPC is a group of six colleges and universities that brings thirty different Department of Homeland Security training courses to local responder agencies.  The consortium offers online versions of nine of these courses for those who cannot attend a classroom session.

Online offerings that may be of value to some ARES members include Terrorism and WMD Awareness in the WorkplaceDealing with the Media and Resource Inventory Management.  One offering that is not of value in west-central Ohio but is just plain interesting is Port and Vessel Security for Public Safety and Maritime Personnel.

In addition to the online offerings, on November 2nd the Versailles Fire department will offer the one-day course AWR-147, Rail Car Incident Response.

To look over the offerings, or to register for one of their online or classroom courses, go to http://www.ruraltraining.org/.

25. National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month begins this Sunday, September 1st.  In conjunction with this event, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering all citizens the opportunity to join the National Preparedness Community, (http://community.fema.gov) a FEMA moderated website that includes national announcements, training events, discussion boards and preparedness planning information.  Almost 27,000 Americans are now members of this community.

I found out about the community through The InfoGram, a publication of the U.S. Fire Administration’s Emergency Management & Response–Information Sharing & Analysis Center (EMR-ISAC) www.usfa.dhs.gov/emr-isac .  This two-page weekly newsletter has tons of interesting and useful response links.


Recently FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute released a new course in their Independent Study series.  IS-248, Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) for the American Public (http://training.fema.gov/IS/crslist.aspx), is a half hour introduction to the IPAWS components that the average person might encounter.  I took it last week and thought it was so dreadful that I’m interested in the feedback of other ARES members.

A somewhat more useful training, at least in my mind, is the two hour IS-247.a, Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), available through that same web address.  It is more technical, but hams should have no trouble with that.  If anyone out there takes both courses, I’d enjoy hearing from you even if you disagree with me about the content of the new class.  Contact me at maschulsinger@yahoo.com or n8qhv@arrl.net with your thoughts.

27. ReliefWeb

While the United States has suffered disasters both manmade and natural in the 21st Century, it is easy to forget that there are places in the world that are nearly always much worse off than we are.  The reason we can forget so easily is the shortage of media coverage in those locations.

If you are curious about such events, there’s a website for that – ReliefWeb (http://reliefweb.int/).  ReliefWeb is a service of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).  It tracks emergencies and disasters all over the globe, especially complex emergencies.  Complex emergencies are situations where multiple events are occurring simultaneously in the same location.  Examples might include food insecurity due to a drought in a war zone, or flooding as a result of the loss of trees due to a wildfire.

ReliefWeb collects emergency situation reports from many governments and non-governmental organizations.  In addition to these documents, ReliefWeb posts hundreds of employment and educational opportunities for international humanitarian workers.  All of this makes ReliefWeb worth checking out.

28. Resource Management Training

Tonight’s training opportunity will not be for every ARES member, but it certainly would be of benefit to any who are responsible for tracking the communications assets of a county ARES unit and its members.

A relatively new opportunity from the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium is MGT-339-W, Resource Inventory Management for Rural Communities.  At an estimated eight hours, this free, online course is a bit longer than most of the RDPC offerings.  It introduces the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Incident Resource Inventory System, or IRIS.  IRIS is a tool to assist organizations in resource typing, or classification, and inventory activities.

If you are responsible for keeping track of what your ARES organization and/or members can bring to an incident, this may be a good start in that direction.  To begin, go to https://www.ruraltraining.org/training/courses/mgt-339-w/ to learn more and register.

If you have been thinking about taking any of the courses I have mentioned since January, consider doing so sooner rather than later.  Courses that begin as free offerings don’t always stay that way forever, and we don’t know yet if next year will be another year of sequestration.

29. Free Red Cross Training

Earlier this year, I mentioned that ARES members who also register and serve as volunteers at their local Red Cross chapters may be eligible to take first aid and CPR courses for no fee.   These combination first air/CPR/AED classes now run $70 to $85, so a no-fee class is quite a benefit for volunteering.

In addition to these classes, other no-fee classes are now also available.  Bloodborne Pathogens Training is a one hour online course intended for people who might occasionally have to work around an incident involving another person’s blood.  It teaches protective measures primarily to protect from the spread of hepatitis and HIV.

Anaphylaxis and Epinephrine Auto-Injector, a half hour online class, teaches how to assist someone how is having a severe allergic reaction through the use of an epinephrine auto-injector.

These classes are normally $20 to $25 each, which begins to add up when, like first aid and CPR, you must retake you training every year or two.

30. Yarnell Hill Fire After Action

On September 23rd the State of Arizona published a Serious Accident Investigation Team report on the Yarnell Hill Fire, which resulted in the deaths of 19 members of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew.  This 122 page document, available online at www.azsf.az.gov/yarnell-hill-fire-documentation , is well worth reading.

Two of the investigation team’s sixteen conclusions pertain directly to radio communications.   First, some radios in use did not have tone guards programmed into their radios.  Thus, they could hear everyone on frequency but not necessarily talk to them.  The report mentions that they developed workarounds to continue using these radios.

Second, radio transmissions during the fire were noted by the investigation team as brief, informal and vague.  The Granite Mountain Hotshots were believed by the incident command staff to be in an area already burned, and thus safe from any fire heading in their direction.

Both of these conclusions should interest ARES members.  Many of our newest radios are no longer easy to program in the field.  Perhaps we could establish a few Districtwide 2 meter and 440 MHz repeater pairs and simplex frequencies (with analog or digital tones, as appropriate) and request that everyone possible preprogram their radios for these.

31: Impact of Federal Shutdown

The United States government shutdown that began on October 1st is annoying for many of us, but it might get much more serious before it is resolved.

Most US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) websites are no longer being actively managed during the shutdown.  This includes Ready.Gov and most Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sites.  The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) online courses are still available, but the site doesn’t mention whether classroom courses are.  The National Fire Academy site is in a similar situation.

Much of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is in a similar state, though its National Weather Service (NWS) sites are operational.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are running a bare-bones operation despite the tainted meat outbreak centered on the west coast.

There has been a commuter plane crash in the Mariana Islands, and bus crashes in Tennessee and Pennsylvania, but the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is responding with significantly reduced staff or not at all because crash investigations address long-term life safety issues, not short-term.

And that’s just the stuff I know about!

32. Working around the Federal Shut Down

As of this afternoon, much of the United States government is still shut down.  While we can hope for the best regarding this situation, ARES members and other emergency workers in particular should consider preparing for the worst.  While federal assistance will still be provided in times of disaster, it will be slower to arrive.  It takes time to bring back laid off workers, so federal staffers we are accustom to seeing three days into a disaster might arrive in five days now.

What does this mean to ARES members?  Make sure your families have what they need for the first week after an event.  Common sense says that ARES members must care for their families first, or they will spend their time worrying about family instead of helping with the emergency response.

Despite the shutdown, the preparedness information at FEMA’s www.ready.gov and the Centers for Disease Control’s emergency.cdc.gov is still available online.  The American Red Cross preparedness pages are business as usual at www.redcross.org/prepare .  A preparedness site I don’t think I’ve mentioned before is ncdp.crlctraining.org at Columbia University.

When you’ve read all of these let me know and I give you a few more.

33. GeoCONOPS Training

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Emergency Management Institute (EMI) has just released four short Independent Study courses related to the arcane topic of Geospatial disaster operations.  Since this relates to highly technical disaster computer operations, tech-savvy ARES members may find an opportunity here to become a valuable part of their community’s disaster response as they take on a task where there are few experts at this time.

IS-60: Introduction and Overview – Homeland Security Geospatial Concept-of-Operations (GeoCONOPS) introduces the topic.

IS-61: GeoCONOPS In-Depth presents the four basic values of GeoCONOPS to potential users.

IS-62: GeoCONOPS In-Practice discusses the value of GeoCONOPS to emergency managers, incident commanders and geospatial techs.
IS-63: Introduction and Overview – DHS Geospatial Information Infrastructure (GII) discusses GII data services, tools and capabilities.

All four courses may be completed in under two and a half hours total, and they may be found at http://training.fema.gov/IS/ .

34: International Disaster Response

After a major disaster has been in the news for several days in a row, people will contact the Red Cross chapter where I volunteer and insist that they must fly immediately to the disaster area to help out those poor people in Somalia, India, Japan, or, this week, the Philippines.  While there are a few people who already possess the needed skills and/or experience to justify spending thousands of dollars to fly that person to the affected area, most of us need hundreds of hours of training and several years of domestic disaster experience before we qualify for such a ticket.  Of the hundreds of responders I’ve met over the years, only a handful qualified as international responders.

But it is possible to become one of that handful.  In a news release dated November 11th, the Darke County Chapter of the American Red Cross announced that one of their local volunteers was being sent to the Philippines.  For security reasons I will not mention his identity over the air, but he is an amateur radio operator being sent to set up and operate a portable Red Cross satellite earth station for communications use.  He has been a domestic Red Cross disaster responder for years, and I look forward to hearing about his international assignment when he returns.

35: USFA Coffee Break Training

Buried within the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Within FEMA is the United States Fire Administration (USFA), and within the USFA is a federal training school at Emmitsburg, Maryland known as the National Fire Academy (NFA).  The NFA offers many different kinds of training primarily intended for fire and emergency medical services personnel, but some of these training opportunities have value to the general public, including ARES members.

One opportunity, known as Coffee Break Training http://www.usfa.fema.gov/nfa/coffee-break/index.shtm ), is designed for those with just a few minutes to spare.  The trainings are typically a single page long.  The Coffee Break home page includes a section labeled Command and Control series, which includes pages on various incident command functions, use of spontaneous volunteers and volunteer reception centers.

As usual, this information will be posted to the Ohio District 3 ARES website.

36. FEMA Online Catalog

Over the past year we have mentioned a number of online emergency management training catalogs offering free or low-cost courses.  For several years now the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been gradually developing a master online catalog.  This publication, known as the FEMA National Preparedness Directorate (NPD) Online Course Catalog, combines the separate course listings of the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP), the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) and the National Training and Education Division (NTED).

This catalog is available from the FEMA training home page, http://training.fema.gov/ .  It isn’t completely user friendly, so consider printing out the accompanying 12-page user guide, also linked to that home page, before you attempt a catalog search.

ARES members should be aware that the search term “Communications” in this catalog refers to public and internal information more often than to telecommunications.  So don’t be discouraged if your first catalog searches don’t turn up anything interesting.  Just stick with it until it bears fruit!

37: Preliminary Damage Assessment training

Many ARES members nationwide have assisted Red Cross chapters and local emergency managers by training for and conducting Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDA) following disasters.  PDAs are a natural match for ARES and Red Cross volunteers, as damage assessment teams require regular communications with the Red Cross chapter, the local emergency operations center or both.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Emergency Management Institute (EMI) recently released IS-772: IA PDA Orientation to explain how FEMA and the Small Business Administration (SBA) participate in a second round of PDAs, which helps to determine if a federal disaster declaration will include Individual Assistance – help for individuals and families.  While this may be confusing, many federal declarations only provide Public Assistance, which helps local governments and some non-profit organizations recover financially from emergencies.

IS-772 takes roughly one hour to complete online, and is available at http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/courseOverview.aspx?code=IS-772 .


I was planning to spend this week reviewing a few of this year’s past programs, but last week the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Emergency Communications screwed me up by releasing version 1.0 of their Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide, or AUXFOG.

The AUXFOG is 144 pages of information useful to FCC Part 95, Personal Radio Service and Part 97, Amateur Radio Service and other radio operators who are prepared to work within the National Incident Management System, or NIMS, during significant preplanned or emergency events.

The body of the AUXFOG consists of just three small chapters for a total of 14 pages.  The bulk of the document is consists of twelve appendices with tons of interesting information.  My favorite was Appendix K, the website listings, but all are useful.

Since this is version 1.0, expect a few boo-boos.  I’ve already caught one in the Appendix C under the amateur radio band listings.  To download your very own copy of AUXFOG version 1.0, go to http://www.publicsafetytools.info/ .

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