Saturday, March 31, 2012

What is ACES in Skywarn?

Take a lesson from this #Skywarn spotter.  ACES is the word.

via TWIAR News Feed on 3/31/12

Like a lot of other Americans, Bill Isles bought Mega Millions lottery tickets on Thursday. Later he joked with a friend that he had a better chance of getting struck by lightning than winning the record jackpot. That night, Isles walked out into his backyard and got struck by lightning.

What does ACES mean?

Escape Route
Safe Zone

    Wednesday, March 28, 2012

    Emmitsburg, MD. – The U. S. Fire Administration (USFA), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service and the International Association of Fire Chiefs, announces the release of Your Role in Fire-Adapted Communities (PDF, 772 Kb). This new guide promotes a holistic approach to wildland fire risk reduction in the wildland urban interface and addresses actions to improve individual and community safety.
    For communities to become more resistant to wildland fire threats, a strong collaboration must exist between federal, state, and local agencies and the public. Aligning with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) "whole community" principles, this guide encourages a community environment where individuals have access to critical information and the knowledge necessary to reduce the loss of life and property. Visit the FEMA website for information on the "whole community" approach to emergency management.
    "It is important that fire departments partner with other local emergency response departments, state fire and forestry agencies, and any regional federal organizations before a fire begins," said U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell.
    The concept behind fire-adapted communities is that with proper community-wide preparation, populations and infrastructure can withstand the devastating effects of wildland fire, thereby reducing the loss of life and property. In addition to understanding wildland fire defensible space and preparedness, the guide further explains how a community can coexist with the threat of wildland fire and ultimately reduce the need for costly fire suppression responses. As the science of fire-adapted communities continues to evolve, agencies and the public can take steps now to understand better the role they play and actions they can take to coexist safely with wildland fire threats.
    Your Role in Fire-Adapted Communities can be downloaded under the Publications section of the USFA website at:

    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    Down Right Now monitors the status of your favorite web services, combining user reports and official announcements to tell you when there's service trouble.  

    This is a pretty good service that monitors a variety of online providers.  There's also a social media reporting link that lets you report when something you use is Down Right Now.

    Check the status of web services and report outages

    Monday, March 19, 2012

    Back by request..the Region 6 Disability Integration Work
    Group*invites you to join us on Thursday, March 29 from 10:00
    AM-12:00PM (Central) for a very informative webinar: The Use of Social
    Media in Emergency Management for the Whole Community.  Following our
    social media webinar on March 8, 2012, we received many responses that
    the webinar was so useful and we received requests to repeat the
    webinar soon!

    We were told that the tweetreach for our Social Media Webinar #hashtag
    on March 8. 2012 was 66,761 people and there were 90,762
    impressions.We were joined for the previous webinar by Neil McDevitt
    the Disability Integration Communications Specialist, Office of
    Disability Integration and Coordination, Department of Homeland
    Security/FEMA who felt the webinar information was very useful. He
    also answered questions and gave some very helpful tips.

    The webinar will share some tools and information for emergency
    management that will help you during all phases of disaster to assist
    persons with access and functional needs. The Social Media information
    provided will be very helpful with your planning for access and
    functional needs.

    Conference Call Bridge and PIN #: 1-800-320-4330  PIN #: 857311
    NOTE About Adobe Connect: You will need to have Adobe Flash Player on
    your computer to be able to access the webinar. (Captioning is
    provided on Adobe Connect.)** To download Adobe Flash Player:
    Webinar Topic:

    About the Webinar: Williamson County recently received top honors in
    the 2011 GovFresh Awards for Best Use of Social Media in the Emergency
    Management category. The 2011 GovFresh Awards (GFAs) honor the most
    innovative citizen, city and local government technology projects of
    the year.  During the 2011 Central Texas wild fires, Williamson
    County's efforts proved to be very successful at reaching the
    residents of the affected areas.  The number of followers on both
    Facebook and Twitter increased dramatically during the fires, allowing
    for interaction with citizens, as well as serving as a catalyst for
    sending out preparedness tips.  They were able to address home
    protection concerns, ongoing wildfire activity with recommended
    evacuations and shelter openings along with information on lending
    assistance to fire victims.   Learn more about their social media
    strategy during this webinar.


    Mackenzie Kelly is an emergency management technician for Williamson
    County's Office of Emergency Management.  Mackenzie was named this
    year's runner up for GFA's Public Servant of the Year.  Her efforts to
    engage the community through social media proved invaluable during the
    September Texas wildfire disaster that affected Bastrop, Travis and
    Williamson counties.  Ms. Kelly also serves as a volunteer firefighter
    with the Jollyville Fire Department and Communication Director for the
    City of Austin CERT (Certified Emergency Response Team) Board.  She is
    pursuing her Bachelor's degree in Emergency Disaster Management and is
    enrolled in the Disaster Sciences Fellowship Program through the
    Emergency Management Academy.

    Connie Watson started as the Williamson county's first public
    information officer in June 2004.  In her role with the county, Ms.
    Watson is responsible for disseminating information to the public and
    to the media.  Connie has created several print publications for the
    county. She also implemented the county's first electronic newsletter,
    updates the county's website with news releases and other information,
    and moderates and contributes to the county's social media presence on
    Twitter and Facebook.  In addition, Connie handles media relations for
    county emergencies and has received the Advanced Public Information
    Officer designation by FEMA.  Connie holds bachelor's and master's
    degrees in mass communication, is accredited by the Public Relations
    Society of America, and has been in the public relations field for
    more than 20 years.

    To make the webinar more enjoyable for the participants:
    Ø  Please MUTE your phones by dialing *6.
    Ø  Please DO NOT put your phone on HOLD as it will disrupt the conference call.
    Ø  You will need to have Adobe on your computer to view the webinar.
    You received the link above to download.
    Ø  You will need to temporarily allow popups to access the captioning.
    Ø  At the bottom of your slides, you can click on the "full screen"
    button to enlarge the slides. If you would like to return to the
    previous view, please
        click on the "full screen" button again.
    Ø  Captioning will run below the slides.
    Ø  For Q & A: Type your question into the Q & A Chat at the left
    (bottom) of the page.

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    Yes, the thread was deleted.

    Because someone put a note on a popular amateur radio forum, without going through the Amateur Radio Emergency Servce, the phone number posted was getting so many calls, there was little helping happening.

    This happens almost every disaster.  It's not just hams doing it.  During Joplin's tornado, a fire department tweeted for help.  Folks in the adjoining States clogged the roads and streets so badly that, according to the Incident Management Team asked to respond, there was very little place to work.

    This is IS-100 material.  Know your supervisor.  Send your request to the supervisor.  Ask what you need.  Need what you ask.

    Amateur Radio News: "Help Required Re KY and IN tornados"

    'via Blog this'

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    @CHVandergriff: in a recent Tweet wrote:

    "Can not stand those who write blogs or start websites to pass along false information or "news" to the public."

    Reality is a new blog only takes three minutes to create, about four minutes to register with search engines, one minute to write the false information, and forever for the false information to go away.

    This is all the more reason for emergency managers to be involved in Social Media.  It only takes one tweet, Facebook wall post, blog note, to get folks to come running to some perceived threat.

    If you are not involved in Social Media, reach out to the Virtual Operations Support Group, the Social Media for Emergency Management group, or the Oklahoma Virtual Operations Support Team for help.
    The recent fire and blackout in Boston gave rise to the use of Social Media in Emergency Management.

    While surely local media was aware of the event, little mention was made on the "National" media.  After all, it was a localized event.

    Yet, Twitter was able to shine ... again ... as government users gave information to the Citizens so they could make the right decision at the right time.

    For example, @AlertBoston is the Twitter Account for Boston Office of Emergency Management.  Through the event and early in the event, this account was giving information to the residents and other interested parties, along with @BostonFire and @Boston_Police scored major points by adding to the information coming from #BackBay, #BostonFire, and #BostonBlackout hashtags.

    While monitoring these accounts, one would have little questions left about what happened, what's going on because it happened, and even some tips for the morning commute.

    One individual, @ShaneAdamski, tweeted "Boston peeps: follow @BostonFire @BOSTON_EMS @AlertBoston for updates on the fire & power outage. Nice job team."

    At the @GetMeOutNews account, there was an example of a volunteer curating and producing the information a resident might need during and after the event.  This is an example of how a volunteer could be used in a Virtual Operations Support Team to supplement your department's effort.  At one point, there was a blog about the event connected to the account showing a summary of what was happening.

    There were issues with this however.  Many of the tweets during the event, especially from Government sources, did not include the popular hastags.  This would cause people who were only monitoring one hashtag to miss that message, possibly.

    The other issue was that many tweets, especially from media, had links.  During a disaster, links should be minimized.  Not every phone is a smart phone with internet activity.

    Transformer fire plunges Boston into darkness -

    How are you using social media in your plan?  Do you have a Virtual Operations Support Team to help?

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    WASHINGTON - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are once again partnering for National Flood Safety Awareness Week, March 12 -16.  This is a time for individuals, families, businesses and communities to understand their risk for flooding and take precautions to protect their families and homes in the event of flooding. 

    "Floods can happen at any time, anywhere across the United States, which means we all need to be prepared now," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.  "There are simple steps everyone can take to prepare for flooding, such as developing a family emergency plan, having an emergency supply kit and protecting your home or business from flooding by obtaining a flood insurance policy."

    Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States, however not all floods are alike. Floods typically occur when too much rain falls or snow melts too quickly. While some floods develop slowly, flash floods develop suddenly.  Hurricanes can bring flooding to areas far inland from where they first hit the coast, as we witnessed last year from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. And chunks of ice from a thawing river can block its normal flow and force water out of its banks.   

    Yet there are simple steps citizens can take today to reduce their risk to all types of floods.  Flood Safety Awareness Week is an excellent time for individuals and communities to understand their flood risk and implement precautions to mitigate the threat to life and property.

    "Flooding is the leading cause of severe weather-related deaths in the U.S., and this is especially tragic since many are preventable.  Of the nearly 100 flood-related fatalities each year, most occur as people attempt to drive on flooded roads.  In many cases, the water is either too deep or moving too fast for drivers to maintain control of their vehicle, and in extreme cases the roadway may be washed away entirely," said Jack Hayes, director, NOAA's National Weather Service, which produces an array of flood outlooks and forecasts, including watches and life-saving warnings. "Remember, if confronted with a water-covered road follow National Weather Service advice: Turn Around, Don't Drown."

    NOAA will issue the 2012 U.S. Spring Outlook and flood assessment on March 15.

    FEMA and NOAA will provide the public with key information related to flood hazards, and ways to protect yourself and your property each day of National Flood Safety Awareness week.  Read throughout the week to stay informed and to get involved.  Additional resources can be accessed online at the Flood Awareness Landing Page.

    For more information on flood safety tips and information, visit  For information on how to obtain a flood insurance policy, visit

    FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
    The March Commercial Mobile Alert Service discussion will be augmented by webinar.  The purpose of the March webinar is to provide a brief overview of the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS) Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation (RDT&E) coordination activities currently underway with stakeholders nationwide.  Our discussion will also include highlights from our recent CMAS Forum in Las Vegas.   Time will be available for you to ask questions and share comments. 

    For CMAS to be effective, what research and development do we need to conduct?
    We are hosting an online discussion for emergency managers and public safety practitioners to inform and validate the CMAS research and development agenda. We want your input on the priority research areas in the fields of geo-targeting of CMAS alerts and understanding public response to CMAS messages. Your input will help us set the R&D agenda for CMAS, which will drive research funding and answer critical questions for CMAS originators.

    Log on now and help shape the CMAS research agenda

    CMAS background information is located at:

    Webinar Date:  Thursday, March 22, 2012
    Time:  2:30 PM, Eastern Standard Time
    Meeting Password:  cmasforum
    Please click the link below to join the meeting.
    2. Enter your name and email address.
    3. Enter the meeting password: cmasforum
    4. Click "Join Now".
    5. Follow the instructions that appear on your screen.
    To join the teleconference only
    ·         Dial:  866.801.9049
    ·         Code:  202.449.7187
    For assistance, please contact:
    ·         1-202-449-7114
    To update this meeting to your calendar program (for example Microsoft Outlook), click this link:

    Please don’t hesitate to contact should you have any questions. 

    Saturday, March 10, 2012

    When one reads the narrative, one must conclude the Public Information Officer may have been on days off.

    When one wants to correct articles that have been printed, after midnight is not the time to do it, with the only possible exception being, if the journalist is at the office as a matter of work hours.

    It's like an emergency?  How?

    Thankfully, there's training for this at the Emergency Management Institute

    E388 Advanced Public Information Officer - May 21 - 24 - - - -
    E388 Advanced Public Information Officer - - June 18 - 21 - - -
    E388 Advanced Public Information Officer - - - July 30 - Aug 2 - -
    E388 Advanced Public Information Officer - - - - - September 24 - 27


    at the Center for Domestic Preparedness

    MGT-902 March 11-16
    MGT-902 May 20-25

    Police chief sends sergeant to reporter’s home after midnight to demand article revision | Poynter.:

    OH ... and it apparently WAS the Public Information Officer who was sent.

    Thursday, March 08, 2012

    In the Tweet, Diane Hayes boldly claims what PIO means.

    Shall we dissect that?

    Public ...  pertaining to, or affecting a population or a community as a whole

    Information:  knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance

    Officer: a person appointed or elected to some position of responsibility or authority in the government

    Not all PIOs are and remain the same.  Most of the time, one is appointed to the position.  Many times that appointment is not desired.

    Did you know that next to the death of a child, public speaking is one of the most feared tasks?

    Nevertheless, not all PIOs have been trained in their role.  Many times the PIO is selected, especially in the private sector, because of their media experience.  While media experience is important, should it be the ONLY factor?  Sometimes the PIO is appointed to "fill a slot".  While the Incident Command System is important, some practice NIMS by appointing command and general staff regardless of talent.

    Nonetheless, the Public Information Officer must "provide the RIGHT information, to the RIGHT people, at the RIGHT time, so that they can make the RIGHT decisions."

    Twitter / @hayesPT: PIO stands for Public Information Officer ...:

    Wednesday, March 07, 2012

    On behalf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, I would like to invite you to help shape the research and development agenda for the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS).
    As you may know, the rollout of CMAS will begin in April of this year. Once it is rolled out, CMAS will allow alerting authorities at different levels of government to send text-like alerts to the public via wireless devices based on geographic location. As CMAS becomes operational across the country, the research and development of this system will be important in ensuring CMAS is as effective as possible and continues to evolve to meet the needs of practitioners like you. From today until March 16th, the CMAS Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation (RDT&E) Program is hosting an online discussion to bring practitioner input into the CMAS research and development agenda, specifically in the fields of geo-targeting of CMAS alerts and understanding public response to CMAS messages. (More information about CMAS is at the bottom of this email.)

    The discussion will be online 24/7 for your input. Your participation will help us craft a research agenda around these questions:
    ·         For CMAS to be effective, what do we need to know about how the public responds to mobile alerts?
    ·         What are the key questions that should guide CMAS research and development in geo-targeting of mobile alerts?

    On this online forum, you can rate existing focus areas developed by the CMAS RDT&E Program, refine ideas in open discussion with other practitioners, and submit your own ideas for research questions that should be explored.

    Log on now and help shape the CMAS research agenda

    Building a research agenda that is in line with the needs of the public safety community requires the input of practitioners like you. So please log on and help inform the research objectives of CMAS, and feel free to forward this to those in your network whose perspectives should be heard. If you have any questions, please contact


    Denis Gusty
    Program Manager
    Office of Interoperability & Compatibility
    U.S. Department of Homeland Security

    Science and Technology Directorate

    CMAS Background
    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) envisions a future where all Americans are able to receive accurate alerts and warnings, regardless of communications technology used.  This vision is being achieved through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).  IPAWS is a modernization and integration of the Nation's alert and warning infrastructure.  It integrates new and existing public alert and warning systems and technologies.  In partnership with DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), IPAWS is working to incorporate wireless mobile alerts through the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS).  This inclusion is an acknowledgement of the important role that wireless technologies play in Americans' lives today.  Given the wide use of wireless mobile devices, CMAS will help ensure more people receive actionable alerts to help avoid danger or respond more quickly during crisis—thereby saving lives and property. 

    CMAS—developed and tested by FEMA and S&T—is one of the major components of IPAWS.  The CMAS component will provide an interface to participating cellular mobile service providers for delivery of critical alert information to cellular phones in a danger zone.  Specifically, the CMAS capability will provide local, tribal, state, territorial, and Federal government officials the ability to send 90-character, geographically-targeted text alerts to the public.

    For more background on CMAS, visit the CMAS RDT&E Online Forum.

    Sunday, March 04, 2012

    Emergency Management Discussion List:

    Twelve years ago, this list started with just a handful of emergency managers.

    Today, the list sports over 2359 followers regularly discussing items of interest to the discipline.

    Today, social media has a handful of users. When @AltusEM started the account had one follower. Today, 822 people follow it.

    Back in the day, people were saying they did not have time for email. This weekend, a number of professionals were saying they did not have time for social media.

    The point is that Social Media is here to stay. The public expects one to be there, giving them information in a timely manner so they can make decisions.

    Where are YOU?

    Track this satellite (Thanks N2YO)

    Need Cell Service?


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