BLANCO COUNTY DISASTER RESPONSE GROUP (BCDRG)

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Web Site: www.BlancoCountyDisasterResponseGroup.org

CURRENT STATUS AND SCHEDULE (NEWSLETTER)

No missions in progress. Back to planning, preparation and training.


FROM THE 4/4/13 BCDRG NEWSLETTER


In this update:

1. National Hurricane Conference
2. Training opportunities
3. Other stuff

1. NATIONAL HURRICANE CONFERENCE -- Even though I no longer live on the coast, I like this conference because it includes more than just hurricanes, and draws top disaster experts from across the country, presenting developments and issues that haven't come over the horizon yet but are on the way. I never fail to learn something. This year, there were a lot of topics particular to our interests.

A growing issue is the rising demand for background checks for volunteers. That, in itself, is reasonable, but the non-governmental organizations' (NGOs') insurance companies increasingly want each NGO to run a check of its own -- it can't accept a check run by anyone else. An extreme example is a spontaneous volunteer who registers through a Volunteer Operations Center (VOC) and is assigned to help the Salvation Army feed survivors in an American Red Cross shelter in a school. He gets background-checked and badged at the VOC, then the Salvation Army has to run a check before he can be issued their badge and go to work for them, as does the Red Cross, and then the school district insists on its own. By this time, more than $100 has been spent on duplicative background checks and his work-day is about over. Consensus is this will become more of a burden to agencies using spontaneous volunteers until they persuade their liability insurance carriers to accept a single standard background check. They're not there yet. Meanwhile, prepare for delays.

A trend in federal planning is acknowledging that the federal agencies need to work more closely with NGOs, including faith-based. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is evolving a strategy of handing off to NGOs the hardest-hit families quickly after disasters. Their thinking is once insurance and federal aid are exhausted, the hardest-hit families will need lots of help for a long time from NGOs and Long-Term Recovery Organizations, and the sooner they can pass the cases the better, even while federal and insurance money are still coming. That's close to what's already happening, but it speeds up the process.

FEMA and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) are developing a policy to let them work more cooperatively with NGOs, starting with blue-tarping damaged roofs. In the past, NGOs have put volunteer workers in a damage area to patch roofs, but had only the tarps they could afford to buy. USACE has stockpiles of tarps, but could only turn them over to contractors it hired to put them on houses. Free tarps and free labor, but never on the same jobs. After Tropical Storm Isaac, a pilot program in Louisiana gave NGOs tarps from USACE, and the Southern Baptists put them on roofs. Worked well and saved lots of money. USACE and the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) are developing a memorandum of agreement to make that easier to use in the future.

A benefit to the states from the VOAD-USACE cooperation is that the state can make a profit on every roof! Usually, a state has to partially match federal expenditures, contributing as much as 25% of the cost. But volunteer labor can be counted against that match requirement, and applying tarps can be worth $20 per hour per worker while tarps are cheap, so the state may recover more than the required matching amount, and can apply that "profit" to other parts of its required match. 

Another pilot project is "Rapid Temporary Repairs", using federal supplies and NGO volunteer labor to make quick repairs to houses to keep their damage from getting worse. It would include plywood to cover broken windows and sheetrock to replace wet wallboard, and eventually might extend to some debris removal. It's not for reconstruction, but can be used to make a damaged house safe and secure so occupants can remain in it while they begin their recovery.

The American Red Cross is and will remain the agency responsible for mass care after disasters, but the ARC can't do it all alone, and in fact has been supported by other NGOs working under their direction. The ARC and National VOAD are developing a National Mass Care Strategy (NMCS) to establish a structure for putting more NGOs to work under the ARC, especially when incidents are too small for a federal declaration or still need mass care after the feds have gone home. The plan as it stands now -- although it still is in development -- is on line at http://nationalmasscarestrategy.org. Your comments and suggestions are welcome. Once the strategy is in final form, they'll train state VOADs on it, which then will train local VOADs and NGOs.

The NMCS also establishes a new category of aid, to be federally funded and delivered by NGOs: Essential Assistance (EA). EA is not a part of the existing Individual Assistance, which provides federal disaster relief to individuals and families, but a new category to cover services for things which now fall through the gaps between federal and NGO aid. Exactly what services is yet vague.

Another part of the NMCS will change the way we talk about disaster resources. (Has there ever been a program which didn't create new terms or abbreviations?) Current problem is terms are not specific enough. If I ask for a forklift, will I get one that lifts pallets or cargo containers? Will the new shelter manager be suited to run a 50-person emergency shelter or a 5,000-person long-term mega-shelter? New terminology will include sub-categories so everyone knows precisely what is needed and being sent. The first few standards are published on the same website for comment, with more in the pipeline.

The US House of Representatives has passed along to the Senate an amendment to the Stafford Act which will, as I read it, make churches and other religious entities eligible for federal assistance on the same basis as purely secular entities. Not favoritism for faith-based groups, but being religious no longer blackballs an organization from federal aid. Details are at http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/592/text?q=HR592 

A potential train-wreck to watch for is in flood insurance. FEMA is re-drawing flood maps and putting more areas in high-risk zones. At the same time, the National Flood Insurance Program is revising its rate structure to match risk to premium rates as federal subsidies for flood insurance are phased out. Numbers like $30,000 a year for flood insurance have been tossed around for high-risk homes. Meanwhile, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program sends money to local governments to rebuild housing. HUD requires a family rebuilding with a CDBG forgivable loan to commit to maintain flood insurance on the property forever, and that requirement passes to all subsequent owners. If the owner drops the insurance within the 5-year loan forgiveness period, HUD can demand repayment of the loan amount. If they drop it later, the owner may not be eligible for future federal disaster aid. Given that CDBG grants tend to go to low-income families whose annual income may be less than the insurance premium, and considering poor people tend to live where land is cheapest (i.e.: flood-prone areas), it is likely that poor homeowners will be saddled with high premiums which they can't pay, but must promise to pay in order to get their homes rebuilt, even knowing it will mean liens on their homes and ineligibility for future federal disaster aid. Unless, of course, someone else pays for their insurance. Both FEMA and HUD are aware of the pending problem, but haven't found a solution.

2. TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES -- You're welcome to attend any of these classes, and they're free unless otherwise noted.

The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter) courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville unless otherwise noted. To register for a class, call 830-792-4677 or register online through https://classes.redcross.org/.

4/18 9-3 Shelter Fundamentals. Introduction to mass care sheltering.

ARC Centex Chapter in Austin trains at its Chapter House at at 2218 Pershing Drive. To register for a class, go to the Saba website listed above, or call Kevin Fincher at 512-929-1221 or email Kevin.Fincher@redcross.org

4/6 8:30-12 Disaster Frontline Supervisor. Advanced course for volunteers with enough experience to become supervisors.
4/6 1-4:30 Disaster Frontline Supervisor Simulation. Practical exercise to see how much you learned during the morning.
4/10 6-10 Shelter Fundamentals. Introduction to mass care sheltering.
4/13  Disaster Instructor Specialty Training. How to become a teacher of disaster courses.
4/20 8:30-12 Disaster Service: An Overview. Basic training for any ARC volunteer interested in disaster services.
4/20 1:30-4:30 Disaster Action Team Workshop. Practical training for DAT volunteers who provide quick response to survivors of mini-disasters, such as housefires.
4/27 8-5 Client Casework: Providing Emergency Assistance. This is the nuts and bolts of getting aid to survivors of disasters. It all begins and ends with paperwork, and this course teaches you the always-in-demand skills of doing it.

ARC San Antonio Chapter trains at its Chapter House at 3642 East Houston Street. To register, go to the Saba website above, call 210-224-5151 or go to http://www.saredcross.org/

4/6 9-1 Psychological First Aid. Good course. Teaches you how to recognize and respond to psychological effects of disaster on survivors and fellow responders. Will be taught at St Mary's University.
4/13 9-12 Disaster Service: An Overview. Basic training for any ARC volunteer interested in disaster services.
4/13 9-12 Disaster Action Team Orientation. Introduction to DATs, which respond quickly to local mini-disasters, like housefires, helping survivors find a meal and a place to spend the night, then begin the casework to get them started on recovery.
4/24 1-2:30 Disaster Service: An Overview. Basic training for any ARC volunteer interested in disaster services.

You're probably not on the mailing list for the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands (OK, neither am I), but they're offering a free five-week course you may be interested in: Terrorism and Counterterrorism: comparing theory and practice, in cooperation with  the Centre for Terrorism and Counterterrorism and Centre for Innovation The Hague. The course is a MOOC...a Massive Open Online Course...available free by internet to anyone in the world who wants to take it. They haven't announced the start date yet, so it's probably a few months away. When it does start, it'll last five weeks. 

FEMA has an online independent study course called IS-288 The Role of Voluntary Agencies in Emergency Management. It's pretty basic, but a good starting point for folks new to the field. Find it at https://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/courseOverview.aspx?code=is-288

Are you smarter than an epidemiologist? They're the detectives of the public health world, figuring out how serious an outbreak of disease is, what the disease is, and how to stop it. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a new online outbreak detective game at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/solve-the-outbreak/id592485067?mt=8. It's actually a learning tool for folks unsure about how epidemiologists work, but fun. 

3. OTHER STUFF -- 

The fire services in drought-stricken Wales have fought more than 150 grass fires, many of them deliberately set, since Easter Sunday, and are using social media to prevent arson fires, to catch arsonists and to alert people in the fires' path. Since the arsonists are believed to be teenagers, the prevention is by reminding parents of the consequences both to victims and to arsonists of fire-starting. Gathering tips from the public and sharing leads publicly helps identify the culprits. As new fires start, Twitter alerts go to people living in the area, especially downwind.

SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, has advice on helping children through crises at http://www.samhsa.gov/trauma/?from=carousel&position=1&date=11012012

Save the Children also has a list of 10 tips for helping children cope with traumatic events at http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.8479773/k.2264/How_to_Help_Children_Cope_with_a_Crisis.htm

Another online tool is a downloadable map of wildland fire potential and probability across the US. Not a big issue after our nice rain, but how often can we say that? Tuck the URL away for later in the season. It's at http://www.firelab.org/fmi/data-products/229-wildland-fire-potential-wfp?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=eb65712a0b-DR605&utm_medium=email

Speaking of wildfires, go to http://fireadapted.org/~/media/Fire%20Adapted/Images/News%20Images/Waldo-Canyon-Rpt-FINAL-shrunk%203.pdf for a report on lessons learned from last year's Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado. The terrain is similar to the Hill Country. It has lots of photos of safe and unsafe construction, landscaping, land use, and how to correct the problems. Some of the content is technical but most is in layman's language.

Another online report is from a study of disaster recovery leadership. It's keyed to the New Zealand experience after the Christchurch earthquake, but includes examples and contributions from around the world, including Louisiana after Katrina. Lots of how-to, how-not-to, and lessons learned for government and community leaders. http://recoverymatters1.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/elizabeth-mcnaughton-winston-churchill-report-2013-final.pdf

Want to see something different in these updates? Get off the email list? Add friends to it? Let us hear.

George Barnette
Blanco County Volunteers
830-868-0808




FROM THE 2/4/13 BCDRG NEWSLETTER

In this issue of Disaster Update:

1. Planning for 2013
2. Disaster conferences
3. Other people's training, which you're welcome to take

1. PLANNING FOR 2013 -- We're a tad bit tardy with 2013 planning, thanks to some fresh items dropped on our plate. The big one for the spring, we hope, will be firefighters rehabilitation, in cooperation with local VFDs, and with an out-of-town presenter. Firefighter rehab is on-the-spot physical care for firefighters at a fire scene. The most common situation here is getting overheated at a wildfire, and the rehab part cools them down safely, gets liquids in 'em, lets them rest, and then sends them back to work -- instead of them working until they drop and then have to go to the hospital. We already have the tent, cooling fan, and other supplies for that, but there's more to it and we want to find out what and how to do it. 

We haven't given up hope on the rural search and rescue, either. If we can get schedules to mesh, that still could happen, too.

That still leaves room for more. Ideas? Anything you'd like to know more about? 

2. DISASTER CONFERENCES -- There are two large disaster conferences I try to attend in the spring every year. Unfortunately, the planners picked the same dates for them this year, so going to one means not going to the other.

The closest and cheapest for us is the Texas Emergency Management Conference March 25-28 at the Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. Lots of speakers and courses on lots of disaster preparation and response topics, plus an exhibit hall where you can see all the toys, from gadgets to mobile command post vehicles. Best part is everything is Texas oriented, so it's all education you can use. Costs $150, plus hotel room (at group rate) if you want it, but SA is close enough to JC for a daily commute. The registration website isn't up yet but will be this month. Start at http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem/conference/txEmerMgmtConf.htm and sign up when they're ready.

The big daddy is the National Hurricane Conference, also March 25-28, at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. Also has lots of speakers and courses and workshops in multiple tracks. The good news is this one tends to draw the big guns in disaster response nationally; the bad news is it isn't all specific to Texas. This year it probably will be dominated by lessons learned in Superstorm Sandy, taught by the response managers who lived it, and will be immensely interesting but a hurricane compounded by a blizzard isn't a big threat in Texas. I haven't found a better place to discover what's coming over the horizon -- regulations, hardware and policies that will trickle down to state and local awareness in a year or two. Cost is $350 (it goes up $50 after Friday) and there's a group rate at the hotel. Start online at http://hurricanemeeting.com/.

3. OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING -- which you're welcome to take. Courses are free unless otherwise noted; some require registration. 

The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter) courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville unless otherwise noted. To register for a class, call 830-792-4677 or register online through https://classes.redcross.org/. Set the search radius for 100 miles and you'll get class listings in San Antonio and Austin, too. No courses currently in the computer for Hill Country Chapter.

ARC Centex Chapter in Austin trains at its Chapter House at at 2218 Pershing Drive. To register for a class, go to the Saba website listed above, or call Kevin Fincher at 512-929-1221 or email Kevin.Fincher@redcross.org

2/07 6-9:30 Psychological First Aid. Not all disaster injuries are physical, and the ones that aren't are least likely to be identified and addressed. This course teaches you how to spot signs of over-stress, both in survivors and in response workers, and how to get them connected with the attention they need.
2/9 8:30-2:30 ERVs: Ready, Set, Roll. ERVs are the ambulance-looking vehicles the Red Cross fills with people, food, supplies, or whatever else needs hauling to a disaster site. They also serve a mobile feeding stations. The course teaches how they work and how you can work in them.
2/13 6-9:30 Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for disaster volunteers. How disaster happen, how the ARC responds to them, disaster jobs open to volunteers.
2/19 6-8:30 Disaster Assessment Basics. How to evaluate the damage done to a structure, neighborhood or community and report it back to the planners who are deciding what and how much relief is needed and how quickly. 
2/20 6-9 Disaster Action Team Workshop. These are the folks who show up for minor emergencies, such as house-fires, to provide fast assistance to survivors.
2/23 6-9:30 Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for disaster volunteers. How disaster happen, how the ARC responds to them, disaster jobs open to volunteers.

ARC San Antonio Chapter trains at its Chapter House at 3642 East Houston Street. To register, go to the Saba website above, call 210-224-5151 or go to http://www.saredcross.org/.

2/2 9-5 Client Casework: Providing Emergency Assistance. Nothing happens 'til the paperwork's filled out, and this course teaches you how to do that to get help moving to survivors quickly. Whether it's a housefire or tornado, the more substantial aid relies on this step to start the process. 
2/09 9-12 Disaster Action Team Orientation. These are the folks who show up for minor emergencies, such as house-fires, to provide fast assistance to survivors.
2/15 6-9 Psychological First Aid. Not all disaster injuries are physical, and the ones that aren't are least likely to be identified and addressed. This course teaches you how to spot signs of over-stress, both in survivors and in response workers, and how to get them connected with the attention they need.
2/23 9-12 Disaster Assessment Basics. How to evaluate the damage done to a structure, neighborhood or community and report it back to the planners who are deciding what and how much relief is needed and how quickly. 
2/27 1-2:30 Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for disaster volunteers. How disaster happen, how the ARC responds to them, disaster jobs open to volunteers. 

You know there was a lot of bad weather across the US in 2012, but you're not sure just how bad and where. The Naural Resources Defense Council has an animated online map that will show you, month by month, where the weather crises were, then put them all together at the end. It covers the map. http://www.nrdc.org/health/extremeweather/default.asp?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=1c03fe1aff-DR601&utm_medium=email

As you might expect, the FLorida Catastrophic Storm Risk Management Center is a treasure trove of information about storm risk, and it includes other locations in the US and around the world, too. It has so much data it's been hard to find exactly what you want. Now they've made their library easier to search. Go to http://www.stormrisk.org/?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=1c03fe1aff-DR601&utm_medium=email and start rummaging.

Here's a disaster response problem I'll bet you haven't planned, much less trained, for. You respond to a mass casualty situation (tornado, big traffic pile-up, apartment fire, etc.) and a small child walks up to you. She's alone. And scared. And she doesn't know where her family is, or where she lives, or how to reach anyone. The National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health has a short, free, online course called "Tracking and Reunification of Children in Disasters" at http://ncdmph.usuhs.edu/Learn/PedsTR/TRCD_0a.htm?fs=0. You get theory and rules, case studies, and a card to carry to remind you of the principles and steps. 

FEMA's Emergency Management Institute has a new online course for FEMA's response partners (that could be us) on how to work better with the feds. A lot of it's practical stuff...if you're going to deploy to a distant disaster, there's advice on how to prepare, then how to acclimate yourself to the local conditions when you arrive. Take the free course whenever you wish via your computer from http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/is102c.asp.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a new blog to cover extreme hazards -- extreme weather, extreme outbreaks, environmental and social disasters, the kinds of things we might be called on to help with. In the natural disasters category, blog postings include the effect of the 2011 Joplin Tornado on functional needs populations, and ways to educate the public about wildfires. The Response category includes one on disaster response changes needed to deal with climate-change driven events, which go well beyond weather. There's even a disaster category for Zombies (used in teaching disaster preparedness). It's at http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/

There's a collection of short (10-20 minutes), free audio presentations on public health aspects of disasters at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Public Health. How to help people with disabilities in emergencies, how to include the disabled in disaster planning, etc. http://cphp.sph.unc.edu/training/training_list/?mode=view_subcat_detail&subcat_id=197

Want to see something different in these updates? Get off the email list? Add friends to it? Let us hear.

George Barnette
Blanco County Volunteers
830-868-0808


FROM THE 12/1/12 BCDRG NEWSLETTER

In this issue of Disaster Update:

1. Local Sandy response
2. Planning ahead
3. Other people's training, which you're welcome to take
4. Miscellany

1. LOCAL SANDY RESPONSE -- The plan to collect money for Superstorm Sandy survivors and use it to buy pre-paid gift cards to send, instead of sending a check to a fund, seemed to work pretty well. It was cost effective, since the Johnson City Bank gave us the cards for the face value, without charging us their normal per-card fee. We were able to send $1,000 worth of $50 cards to the Superintendent of the United Methodist Church's district encompassing the south Jersey shore, including Atlantic City. He made the distribution. It was quick and donors had the satisfaction of knowing their gift went directly to survivors, rather than into a fund to be co-mingled with others and eventually arrive somewhere to help someone some way...the details of which we'll never know. 

In fairness, the big NGOs and faith-based disaster response funders aren't spending your ear-marked donation in the first days of the emergency. They spend their money, and your money replaces it, like repaying a loan. Your gift of $100 enables them to apply $100 on day 1, even before you know you're going to give it. Still, there's something more satisfying about holding a card in your hand and knowing someone who needs it will have it in a couple of days. 

We may try it again next time.

2. PLANNING AHEAD -- December tends to be a slow month for disaster training and preparation, so we'll spend it planning for next year. Got any ideas?

We'll do a training session here in Blanco County for the American Red Cross and Library of Congress project to do video interviews with veterans on their stories, which isn't exactly disaster-related. We still hope to get the oft-postponed rural search and rescue class and field exercise scheduled. We already have the hot-weather rehab tent for firefighters and others doing stressful labor in the heat, and we have some general procedures we use for it. It would be good to have more serious rehab training, perhaps in cooperation with the fire departments, their fire corps and the emergency medical folks. There's a terrific lady in Ingleside I'd love to get up here to teach us how. What else? 

3. OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING -- which you're welcome to take. Courses are free unless otherwise noted; some require registration. (Check on Red Cross courses with the chapter concerned. The online training schedule has been known to be in error...often...sometimes dramatically so.)

The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter) courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville unless otherwise noted. To register for a class, call 830-792-4677 or register online through https://classes.redcross.org/Saba/. Set the search radius for 100 miles and you'll get class listings in San Antonio and Austin, too. 

12/1 9-12:30 Disaster Services: An Overview. Intro to ARC's disaster service and local disaster response programs. (EMS Facility, 221 Friendship Lane, Fredericksburg)

12/3 6-9 New Volunteer Orientation. How the ARC works and the roles of volunteers in disasters.

ARC Centex Chapter in Austin trains at its Chapter House at at 2218 Pershing Drive. To register for a class, go to the Saba website listed above, or call Kevin Fincher at 512-929-1221 or email Kevin.Fincher@redcross.org

12/4 6-10 Psychological First Aid. How to recognize people who may ened additional psychological or emotion assistance under stress, and how to get it for them.
12/8 9-12 Logistics Overview. How to get the right stuff from here to there, and store it in the meantime, under disaster conditions.
12/8 1-5 Logistics Overview Simulation. Exercise to test your skills and what you learned in the morning class.
12/13 9-12 Disaster Action Team Workshop. Practical application and problem-solving for DAT members.
12/15 8:30-12 Disaster Frontline Supervisor. How to manage staff and volunteers in disaster situations.

ARC San Antonio Chapter trains at its Chapter House at 3642 East Houston Street. To register, go to the Saba website above, call 210-224-5151 or go to http://www.saredcross.org/.

12/8 9-12 Disaster Action Team Orientation. These are the folks who show up for minor emergencies, such as house-fires, to provide fast assistance to survivors.
12/12 6-9:30 Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for disaster volunteers. How disaster happen, how the ARC responds to them, disaster jobs open to volunteers.
12/15 1-4:30 Disaster Frontline Supervisor Simulation. Exercise to see how well you paid attention during the morning class.
12/15 9-5 ERVs: Ready, Set, Roll. ERVs are Emergency Response Vehicles, those ambulance-looking trucks the Red Cross uses for everything from moving people and supplies around to feeding hungry folks. Learn how they work and how to use them.
12/15 9-5 12/8 1-5 Logistics Overview Simulation. Exercise to test your skills in moving needed stuff from place to place and storing it under emergency conditions.
 12/19 1-2:30 Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for disaster volunteers. How disaster happen, how the ARC responds to them, disaster jobs open to volunteers. 

FEMA's Emergency Management Institute has some new courses than can do you some good. They are on disaster mitigation -- reducing the threat or effect a given disaster can have on your property. The free online courses are intended for FEMA's mitigation staff, but they give you lots of guidance on how fires, floods and storms can affect your home and what you can do now to reduce the danger. The one on earthquakes isn't a biggie in Central Texas, but we are more vulnerable to tornado (IS-319), wildfire (IS-320), hurricane (IS-321), and flood (IS-322). Go to http://training.fema.gov/IS/, enter your IS course number listed above in the "Search" box in the upper right corner, and go to it. 

Another FEMA course is The Role of Voluntary Agencies (that would be us) In Emergency Management. Take it free on line by starting at https://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/IS288.asp and following instructions.

This online lesson will give healthcare workers a background in handling children who’ve become separated from their parents in a disaster. From creating general awareness of responder responsibility, to identifying lost children, to knowing what resources are available to help find parents, this tool will help guide emergency workers in the field. The lesson, created by the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, is also eligible for a variety of continuing education credits. http://ncdmph.usuhs.edu/KnowledgeLearning/2012-Learning1.htm?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=f477eade5b-DR599&utm_medium=email

Anyone who has seen the challenges of rescuing household pets during disasters would likely be daunted at the prospect of saving something bigger. Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue might just be able to overcome that fear. TLAER offers courses to emergency personnel on how to safely rescue trapped or injured horses and cattle from disaster and emergency zones—including education on how to prevent entrapment. Visit the site to learn more about how to form large animal rescue response teams, find training and education resources, and see pictures of real life rescues. http://www.tlaer.org/?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=f477eade5b-DR599&utm_medium=email

How about a MOOC? A MOOC is a Massive, Open, Online Course offered by colleges and universities free to anyone worldwide interested in the topic. A hot topic in disaster management these days is using social media for two-way communication between managers and the public during disasters. Maria Andersen, PhD, will teach a course on using social media for the Canvas Network from 2/25 to 5/6 with video lectures, online discussion with her and fellow students (potentially thousands of them!), group projects, but no final grade, no credit, and no charge. Go to https://www.canvas.net/courses/social-media and click either "enroll" or, to keep your options open, "Keep Me Posted".

4. MISCELLANY
The US Dept of Health and Human Services has a page of links and tools for dealing with disasters. Some are specific to Superstorm Sandy, or to the northeast, or to cold weather, but most are usable here in Central Texas. Find it at http://www.phe.gov/emergency/events/sandy/Pages/default.aspx.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an all-hazards page of links to informaiton on a variety of disasters at http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/alldisasters.asp?s_cid=ccu071612_014.
If you ever had a question relating to the intersection of public health and disasters, this Pan American Health Organization Web site probably has the answer. With information arranged in easy-to-access modules, the site spans everything from basic concepts and terminology to global trends and strategies to reduce disaster risk. The latest PAHO publications and opportunities for classes and training are also featured. http://saludydesastres.info/index.php?lang=en&utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=f477eade5b-DR599&utm_medium=email

Want to see something different in these updates? Get off the email list? Add friends to it? Let us hear.

George Barnette
Blanco County Volunteers
830-868-0808

FROM THE 11/4/12 BCDRG NEWSLETTER

In this issue of Disaster Update:

1. Sandy
2. Local Sandy response
3. Things completed
4. Other people's training, which you're welcome to take

1. SUPERSTORM SANDY -- Shortly before Hurricane Sandy came ashore in New Jersey, someone asked me why everyone was so excited about it...Sandy was only going to be a Category 1 storm...no big deal. Now we know how a little deal turns into a a big deal. And just to add trouble, another storm is on its way up the Atlantic Coast, due to hit Wednesday with gale-force winds, sub-freezing temperatures and snow. New York had, on Sunday morning, almost 10,000 people still living in shelters. Now it's trying to find shelter space for as many as 30,000 more before the freezing weather hits. 

Just getting people into shelters will require some doing. With FEMA in Florida, we found many elderly residents of high-rise condos trapped on upper floors because they couldn't go down stairs; they depended on the elevators, and with power off they were stuck in apartments with no way to get food or medicine, slowly roasting as temperatures rose in their closed spaces. We had to bring them down before they starved or suffered heat stroke. NY will need to do the same, but at the other end of the thermometer, and with lots more high-rise residents

Sandy also reminded us how little it takes to stop disaster aid from getting where it needs to be. Failure of the power grid was expected, so FEMA and other agencies pre-positioned big electrical generators in the area. But generators aren't all of the same output capacity, and a big generator's output needs to be matched to the demand it's connected to. You can't just crank 'er up and plug 'er in. It took more time than expected for local officials to figure out what output was available and where there was a matching demand. 

Speaking of power problems, in Katrina, a problem in New Orleans was hospitals going dark when electrical generators drowned because they were in the basements. Lesson learned; NY hospitals had generators moved from basements to higher ground. One New Orleans hospital had anticipated that problem and moved its generator to the roof, but left the diesel fuel tanks in the basement, so it still went dark when the water came in. That extra lesson hadn't made it to all NY hospitals. Has now.

We've also seen more evidence of leaders not bothering to learn about disaster response until they're in it. NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg wanted power restored to neighborhoods based on who deserved it most...the hardest hit areas getting electricity first. That, of course, is not how broken power grids get put back on line. Countless leaders are complaining about FEMA's slow response, even though FEMA is not, never was, and by law cannot be a first-responder. It is a backup resource to states, providing only what is requested, when requested. And it's no longer the parking garage for out-of-work political operatives it was before Katrina.

Another lesson re-learned is that whenever a big city and a less-populated area are both affected by a disaster, the major metro area will get all the attention and the outlying area will be overlooked. Manhattan is the area's (nation's) biggest media center, so much of what you've seen and read has been about that island. Elected officials and relief aid follow media coverage, and much of that has gone to Manhattan, too. Meanwhile, other boroughs and islands...Long Island, Staten Island...also part of NY...complain they're being bypassed and overlooked. The Jersey shore even more so. 

2. LOCAL SANDY RESPONSE -- The United Methodist Churches in Blanco County are running an experiment with storm relief. The mainstream relief agencies -- American Red Cross, UMCOR, etc. -- are rushing millions of dollars into the disaster area. There is still a preference, though, for giving a thing that the donor knows will go into the hands of someone who needs it, a process more personal and psychologically satisfying than just writing a check that disappears into the broader flow of aid. 

So the Methodist churches in Blanco and Johnson City are asking for pre-paid gift cards to send to the Jersey shore. A donor can buy the card, hold it in his hand, and know that it will end up in the hands of someone who needs it. It's a compromise; not a winter coat or hamburger, but more personal than a check. Of course, checks are good too -- Cattleman's Bank is making the churches a deal on cards bought in quantity. The collected cards will be shipped overnight to New Jersey, where a contact will distribute them where they're needed. As we said, it's an experiment to see whether that works for donors better than just asking for cash. Let you know.

3. THINGS COMPLETED -- The Children's Disaster Services class happened as scheduled. Good crowd, most of whom signed up to work with children in shelters when needed. Good information, both for disasters and any time a child is in a high-stress situation.

The flood buckets got filled and delivered to the warehouse. Probably none of them got shipped to the northeast after Sandy, but they're in the pipeline which makes immediate shipments possible without clearing the warehouse shelves.

Saturday was the American Red Cross training day in Kerrville for volunteers learning how to do interviews with veterans to go into the archives of the Library of Congress for use by future historians. Five of the 20 trainees were from Blanco County, so we're now ready to begin interviewing our own vets for the program. We've had at least as many people here say they'd like to help but couldn't be in Kerrville Saturday, so we'll do another training session here, probably after the first of the year.

4. OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING -- which you're welcome to take. Courses are free unless otherwise noted; some require registration. (Check on Red Cross courses with the chapter concerned. The online training schedule has been known to be in error...often...sometimes dramatically so.)

The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter) courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville unless otherwise noted. To register for a class, call 830-792-4677 or register online through https://classes.redcross.org/Saba/. Set the search radius for 100 miles and you'll get class listings in San Antonio and Austin, too. (Be aware the ARC is having problems with Saba; for instance, it doesn't list any Hill Country Chapter classes, including the one here this weekend.)

None in the computer for Hill Country Chapter, but I understand they're trying to schedule a new volunteer orientation for this month or next.

ARC Centex Chapter in Austin trains at its Chapter House at at 2218 Pershing Drive. To register for a class, go to the Saba website listed above, or call Kevin Fincher at 512-929-1221 or email Kevin.Fincher@redcross.org

11/06 6-9:30 Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for disaster volunteers. How disaster happen, how the ARC responds to them, disaster jobs open to volunteers.
11/10 8-4 Shelter Management. How to plan and manage emergency shelter setup, staffing, supply, operatikons and shut-down.
11/13 6-9 Disaster Action Team Workshop. These are the folks who show up for minor emergencies, such as house-fires, to provide fast assistance to survivors.
11/17 8:30-12 Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for disaster volunteers. How disaster happen, how the ARC responds to them, disaster jobs open to volunteers.

ARC San Antonio Chapter trains at its Chapter House at 3642 East Houston Street. To register, go to the Saba website above, call 210-224-5151 or go to http://www.saredcross.org/.

11/10 9-12 Disaster Action Team Orientation. These are the folks who show up for minor emergencies, such as house-fires, to provide fast assistance to survivors.
11/28 1-2:30 Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for disaster volunteers. How disaster happen, how the ARC responds to them, disaster jobs open to volunteers. 

The American Red Cross had a big disaster exercise in Austin Saturday, and on Monday, Nov 19, they'll do an after-action review of how things went, and you're invited. Besides just who did what, it will provide a good overview of how different entities come together in an emergency. It's 9:30 am at the United Way headquarters, 2000 East MLK. 

It's not training, but it is flu shot clinic time again, and the Texas Department of State Health Services could use a hand again, especially from volunteers who've had the shot-clinic training or who have helped before. They don't expect big crowds, but may need some folks who can help people with their paperwork.
9:30-11 Wed Nov 7 -- Blanco, Trinity Lutheran Church, 281 and 7th St
9:30-11 Wed Nov 14 -- Johnson City, First United Methodist Church, Pecan and Ave E

Animals exposed to floods may be contaminated with chemical and biological substances in the water. The American Veterinary Medical Association has advice on decontaminating animals at https://www.avma.org/News/Journals/Collections/Documents/javma_232_3_364.pdf

Can animals sense natural catastrophes before they happen? For a long time, there have been reports of animals behaving oddly just before storms and earthquakes. Now science is looking into it seriously. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a blog on the topic. Go to http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2012/10/pet-sense-disaster/ and see what Muffy may be trying to tell you.

How do you explain to children -- especially very young ones -- about the hurricanes and other disasters they see on TV and hear the grown-ups talking about? And what better guide to communicating with kids tfhan the pros at Sesame Street? Go to http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/hurricane?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=7e9006e9d3-DR598&utm_medium=email for guidance and teaching aids for explaining it all in terms a pre-schooler can understand. 


NIAID, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has a short video on YouTube about how flu spreads and grows into pandemics. Perfect for this season, and it's only three minutes long. Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=m-ch-fea&v=DdFCx8jbesQ&utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=dbf77d9ea5-DR597&utm_medium=email

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety has a free disaster-preparation app for Apple devices (other makes to come). Lots of user-friendly features, including the ability for you to make 11 different customized to-do lists for fires, floods, storms, etc. It's in the Apple itunes store at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/your-plan/id537737839?mt=8

The Emergency Management Forum at EMForum.org is offering a short online interactive session on mass shootings at 11 am Monday, Nov 12. Go to https://eiip.webex.com/e?iip/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=?924639307 and follow the directions. It's free.

Save the date: Friday, Dec 7, from 5:30 the midnight, the Austin PD cadet class will have their practical field sobriety test exercise to see whether they can judge who is legally bombed and who's just happy. For this, they need volunteer drinkers. They'll feed you a measured amount of alcoholic beverage and then let the cadets check you out. (Hint: falling down while wearing a Santa hat is too easy.) Getting snockered on the City of Austin's tab...who else gives you opportunities like that? Details to come.

Want to see something different in these updates? Get off the email list? Add friends to it? Let us hear.

George Barnette
Blanco County Volunteers
830-868-0808
http://www.blancocountydisasterresponsegroup.org/


FROM THE 9/1/12 BCDRG NEWSLETTER

In this issue of Disaster Update:

1. Isaac
2. Flood buckets
3. Training classes here
4. Other people's training, which you're welcome to take

1. ISAAC -- We had high hopes for Isaac to bring at least a little rain to Central Texas, but it didn't come quite close enough. At one point, one of the computer models had it coming right over us. 

Isaac reminded us that the hazard of a hurricane is not necessarily related to its category. The category is determined by wind speed, and that's only one of a hurricane's threats. Isaac's winds dropped off quickly, but the flooding has continued on into the middle of the country. One reason is that Isaac was a wet storm to begin with; another is that it moved slowly as it tried to push against a high pressure ridge. Think of a tropical system as a water hose. Obviously, how much you open the faucet (wet or dry storm) makes a difference, but so does the speed with which you move the nozzle. Move it fast, and the ground gets little water in any one spot; move it slowly, and a given point gets more water. Same principle. The good news is some of the areas getting dumped on really needed the rain...just not all at once. 

Isaac also reminds us to beware of the hurricane "I". That's "I" as in Isaac, Irene, Ike...an unusual number of serious storms beginning with the same letter (there've been 9 severe "I" storms).

Amaze your friends with this: When Isaac drove water ashore along the Gulf coast, the Mississippi River rose as far as 300 miles upstream, yet the salt water Isaac was pushing upstream never even made it to New Orleans, which sucks its drinking water out of the river. Why not? To prevent such salt water intrusion, the US Army Corps of Engineers built a sill, or ridge, across the river bottom south of the city. Salt water is denser than fresh water, so it stayed on the bottom, and as it flowed north it met the sill, which acted as a dam, halting the salt water's movement while letting the fresh water flow downstream over it. It worked.

When Isaac was coming ashore, I wondered what would happen to the mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus. Louisiana has had more than 50 cases...not up to Texas' standards, but proving there's a significant reservoir of the virus in the area. Would infected mosquitoes be caught up in the wind and blow into states without West Nile? Would they hunker down and wait for the post-storm standing water and the sweaty bodies working outdoors? I posed that to the Texas Department of State Health Services, and was told skeeters, like humans, take shelter from the storm, staying close to home. If Illinois gets West Nile cases, they didn't come from Louisiana mosquitoes.

Also remember that it was just a year ago that another tropical storm (Lee) landed in Louisiana and moved north, keeping hot and drought-striken Texas on its dry side and pulling strong winds down out of the north. The result in 2011 was more than 60 wildfires in the state that Sunday of Labor Day weekend, including the devastating fires at Spicewood and Bastrop.

2. FLOOD BUCKETS -- As soon as Isaac moved on, the flood buckets began flowing out of the warehouse at Baldwin, in south Louisiana. Flood buckets are filled with supplies to clean up and disinfect flooded homes, and there were lots of homes needing cleaning out. That will leave the warehouse short of buckets for the next one...which may come next year...or next week. We'll help by doing a flood bucket filling day, perhaps the 15th or 22nd. Details to come. Between now and then, though, we'll need donations so we can buy the supplies, and volunteer shoppers to go get 'em.

3. TRAINING CLASSES HERE -- The "Children's Disaster Services" class -- considered the national "gold standard" for its type -- is coming to the Hill Country next weekend, Friday evening through Saturday, hosted by the First United Methodist Church in Johnson City. The class looks at disasters, how children respond to them, and how to help children cope with the aftermath of catastrophic incidents. You'll learn how to help children deal with any high-stress situation. The class lasts 26 hours -- straight through -- because the Friday night is spent in a simulated disaster shelter in the church so students will understand the environment the children are living in. Provided meals also are typical of fare that might be provided in a shelter. The charge for the training, including "room and board", course materials and the instructors' expenses, is $55. For more information, call Angie in the church office at 830-868-7414. To register, go on line to https://secure2.convio.net/cob/site/Ecommerce?VIEW_PRODUCT=true&product_id=4101&store_id=2361 and fill out the form.

4. OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING -- which you're welcome to take. Courses are free unless otherwise noted; some require registration. (Check on Red Cross courses with the chapter concerned. The online training schedule has been known to be in error...often...sometimes dramatically so.)

NOTE: WITH THE DEMANDS OF HURRICANE ISAAC, SOME AMERICAN RED CROSS CLASSES MAY BE CANCELED OR RE-SCHEDULED.

The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter) courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville unless otherwise noted. To register for a class, call 830-792-4677 or register online through https://classes.redcross.org/Saba/. Set the search radius for 100 miles and you'll get class listings in San Antonio and Austin, too. (Be aware the ARC is having problems with Saba; for instance, it doesn't list any Hill Country Chapter classes, including the one here this weekend.)

None in the computer for Hill Country Chapter.

ARC Centex Chapter in Austin trains at its Chapter House at at 2218 Pershing Drive. To register for a class, go to the Saba website listed above, or call Kevin Fincher at 512-929-1221 or email Kevin.Fincher@redcross.org

9/6 6-9:30 Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for disaster volunteers. How disaster happen, how the ARC responds to them, disaster jobs open to volunteers.
9/8 9-1 Psychological First Aid. Good course; how to recognize emotional problems in disaster survivors and how to get them the help they need.
9/8 1-5 Foundations of Disaster Mental Health. Basic course in mental health following disasters, especially useful for those working with disaster survivors in the aftermath.
9/12 8:30-12 Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for disaster volunteers. How disaster happen, how the ARC responds to them, disaster jobs open to volunteers.
9/13 6-9 Disaster Action Team Workshop. These are the folks who show up for minor emergencies, such as house-fires, to provide fast assistance to survivors.
9/22 8:30-12:30 Fundamentals of Disaster Assessment. How to make a quick survey of a disaster area to provide response planners the guidance they need on what kinds of damage was done, and how widespread and severe it is.

ARC San Antonio Chapter trains at its Chapter House at 3642 East Houston Street. To register, go to the Saba website above, call 210-224-5151 or go to http://www.saredcross.org/.

9/7 6-10 Psychological First Aid. Good course; how to recognize emotional problems in disaster survivors and how to get them the help they need.
9/8 9-12 Disaster Action Team Orientation. These are the folks who show up for minor emergencies, such as house-fires, to provide fast assistance to survivors.
9/8 9-12 Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for disaster volunteers. How disaster happen, how the ARC responds to them, disaster jobs open to volunteers.
9/22 9-5 Client Casework: Providing Emergency Assistance. How to open a case file on a disaster survivor, and to start and maintain the paperwork necessary to get them the help they need.
9/26 1-2:30 Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for disaster volunteers. How disaster happen, how the ARC responds to them, disaster jobs open to volunteers.
9/29 9-3 ERVs: Ready, Set, Roll. ERVs are Emergency Response Vehicles, those ambulance-looking trucks the ARC uses for everything from hauling supplies and workers to serving meals and snacks. An ERV driver or assistant has to know how to do all of those, and more. 

It's still a month off, but the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) basic course is set for October 2-4 in San Antonio. It'll help disaster responders, first responders, pastors and anyone else who works with traumatized people understand what they're going through and why they behave as they do. More information and registration at  http://texascrisisresiliencyteam.org/crisis-response-team-training/.

On Thursday, 9/6, the Citizen Corps is offering "Zombie Awareness: Effective Practices in Promoting Disaster Preparedness" as an online webinar. Ever since a clutch of college cut-ups in Florida used an invasion of zombies as an exercise scenario for disaster planning, it has only become more popular. In this case, FEMA is behind the use of a zombie attack for planning and preparing for disaster. A government agency turning a serious topic into fun? It may be the end times after all. Go to http://www.citizencorps.gov/resources/webinars/zombieawareness.shtm and see for yourself.

Here's a course perfect for people dealing with disaster survivors and, sometimes, the agencies which help them: A Beginner's Guide to Irrational Behavior. This course, offered on line by Duke University, uses economics as the example, but the principles apply wherever people allow themselves to be ruled by emotion instead of reason. The prof is the author of "The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone -- Especially Ourselves", and that's one of the recommended readings, so it could be interesting. It doesn't start until next March, but fair warning: the prof says it should take 7-10 hours a week for 6 weeks, so it's not a casual thing. More at https://www.coursera.org/course/behavioralecon.

The hot topic in disaster communication these days is using social media -- Twitter, Facebook (even email is old-fashioned in this world) -- to talk to and hear from people involved in disasters. FEMA's Emergency Management Institute has a new online course on "Social Media in Emergency Management" at http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/is42.asp. You should be able to finish it in about 3 hours.

Once a hurricane is ashore and losing its tropical characteristics, the National Hurricane Center hands off the tracking and forecasting jobs to the National Weather Service's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, which forecasts and tracks the ordinary storms and systems across the country. You still get the maps and data, but it looks a little different. To keep following Isaac, go to the HPC website at http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/.

The passing of Tropical Storm Isaac gives the US Centers for Diseased Control and Prevention a chance to remind us that with hurricanes and floods, there are more hazards than just wind and water. Top of the CDC's list is carbon monoxide poisoning, usually from firing up the gasoline-powered generator or the charcoal grill. Also on the list are mold and lifting too-heavy objects...and more. http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/otherhazards.asp

Also from the CDC is information on Texas' contribution to the current worry-list: West Nile Virus. There are several pages of information they're providing doctors and health departments. 

The Texas Department of State Health Services is on board with West Nile information, too. So far, the Hill Country is mostly free of it...but not entirely. Get the facts at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/disease/arboviral/westnile/.

Want to see something different in these updates? Get off the email list? Add friends to it? Let us hear.

George Barnette
Blanco County Volunteers
830-868-0808
http://www.blancocountydisasterresponsegroup.org/


FROM THE 8/1/12 BCDRG NEWSLETTER

In this issue of Disaster Update:

1. The tropics heat up
2. Burn buckets
3. Training classes here
4. Other people's training, which you're welcome to take

1. THE TROPICS HEAT UP -- Tropical Depression 5, out in the md-Atlantic, was made official today, and should evolve into Tropical Storm Ernesto sometime tomorrow, Thursday. The National Hurricane Center gives Ernesto a 1-in-4 chance of becoming a hurricane on Friday. After that, who knows? One of the better computer models says wind shear will tear Ernesto apart early in the weekend, but another, equally good model says it won't, and Ernesto will continue west into next week. If Ernesto survives, the tracks say it should go west-northwest across the northern Caribbean and into the Gulf toward Texas. That, however, is a lot of maybes away.

2. BURN BUCKETS -- We made up 34 buckets of cleaning supplies specific for cleanup after fires. They'll go to the warehouse in Kerrville within a few days, to await the next wildfire need. Keeping a supply of buckets on hand lets us work ahead of the need, so the buckets can be shipped quickly when the fires break out. Thanks to the super shoppers who rounded up the supplies for us, and the bucket-stuffers who filled 'em.

3. TRAINING CLASSES HERE -- The American Red Cross is here this Saturday, August 4, for a class in Shelter Operations and an exercise to follow, to see who was paying attention in the first part. It starts at 9 am at the First United Methodist Church in Johnson City. If you've taken it, some of the content has changed; if you haven't, they need you to be ready before the hurricane season peaks.

It's not 'til September, but reserve now or risk missing out: "Children's Disaster Services" class -- considered the national "gold standard" for its type -- is coming to the Hill Country, hosted by the First united Methodist Church in Johnson City Friday and Saturday, September 7 and 8. The class looks at disasters, how children respond to them, and how to help children cope with the aftermath of catastrophic incidents. You'll learn how to help children deal with any high-stress situation. The class lasts 26 hours -- straight through -- because the Friday night is spent in a simulated disaster shelter in the church so students will understand the environment the children are living in. Provided meals also are typical of fare that might be provided in a shelter. The charge for the training, including "room and board", course materials and the instructors' expenses, is $45. For more information or to register, call Angie in the church office at 830-868-0808. 

4. OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING -- which you're welcome to take. Courses are free unless otherwise noted; some require registration. (Check on Red Cross courses with the chapter concerned. The online training schedule has been known to be in error...often...sometimes dramatically so.)

The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter) courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville unless otherwise noted. To register for a class, call 830-792-4677 or register online through https://classes.redcross.org/Saba/. Set the search radius for 100 miles and you'll get class listings in San Antonio and Austin, too. (Be aware the ARC is having problems with Saba; for instance, it doesn't list any Hill Country Chapter classes, including the one here this weekend.)

8/4 9-3:30 Shelter Operations and Shelter Simulation. How to open, run and close an emergency shelter the Red Cross way, and why that's how they do it. The class is classroom style; the simulation is an exercise to see if you know how to do it. We'll even show you where we hide the cots and blankets.

ARC Centex Chapter in Austin trains at its Chapter House at at 2218 Pershing Drive. To register for a class, go to the Saba website listed above, or call Kevin Fincher at 512-929-1221 or email Kevin.Fincher@redcross.org

8/4 8-5 Client Casework. How to initiate a client file and handle the paperwork and recordkeeping that helps get aid quickly to survivors who need it. Trained caseworkers are ALWAYS in short supply.
8/8 6-9:30 Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for disaster volunteers. How disaster happen, how the ARC responds to them, disaster jobs open to volunteers.
8/11 8-4 Shelter Management. A new ARC class providing the next step after Shelter Operations, teaching a management level of shelter work.
8/14 6-9 Disaster Action Team Workshop. These are the folks who show up for minor emergencies, such as house-fires, to provide fast assistance to survivors.
8/18 9-3 ERVs: Ready, Set, Roll. ERVs are Emergency Response Vehicles, those ambulance-looking trucks the ARC uses for everything from hauling supplies and workers to serving meals and snacks. An ERV driver or assistant has to know how to do all of those, and more. 
8/25 8:30-12 Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for disaster volunteers. How disaster happen, how the ARC responds to them, disaster jobs open to volunteers.

ARC San Antonio Chapter trains at its Chapter House at 3642 East Houston Street. To register, go to the Saba website above, call 210-224-5151 or go to http://www.saredcross.org/.

8/4 9-12 Disaster Action Team Orientation. These are the folks who show up for minor emergencies, such as house-fires, to provide fast assistance to survivors.
8/11 9-12 Disaster Action Team Orientation. These are the folks who show up for minor emergencies, such as house-fires, to provide fast assistance to survivors.
8/11 6-7:30 Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for disaster volunteers. How disaster happen, how the ARC responds to them, disaster jobs open to volunteers.
8/29 6-7:30 Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for disaster volunteers. How disaster happen, how the ARC responds to them, disaster jobs open to volunteers.

A subject similar to our Children's Disaster Services class is FEMA's Emergency Management Institute class on preparing childcare for disasters at  http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/is36.asp.

Anna Tangredi, Volunteer Agency Liaison at Texas Division of Emergency Management, passes along this link to free resources from The Red Guide at http://www.theredguidetorecovery.com/. The guide publishers would like to sell you books and other disaster materials, and you may choose to buy them, but the freebies (on the left side of the page) include a quick start guide, a property inventory tool, help developing a family emergency plan and how to protect your property. 

If you've ever wondered whether that chemical you just spilled is dangerous, find out whether it is and what to do about it at http://www.cdc.gov/Features/ToxicSubstances/?s_cid=ccu061812_005. That's the new portal to all things toxic from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 

HealthMap, at http://healthmap.org/, was developed by digital epidemiologist John Brownstein at Children's Hospital Boston. You can either tell the map what contagious disease you're looking for, and it'll tell you where it is. Or you can tell it where you are, and it'll tell you what's in the vicinity. The map also shows the intensity of the outbreak by color. Includes animal diseases, too. The reports appear to be from news media, rather than official sources, but they're current. A "news" section lets you skim all the recent reports in case you really want to scare hell out of yourself. Free.

Speaking of health maps, the US Bureau of the Census will tell you things about disasters that no one else can. Go to http://onthemap.ces.census.gov/em.html?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=765381f213-DR_590&utm_medium=email and find a US map, overlaid with current disasters. Pick your event and locality, and the site will give you lots of background on the people who live there, economic data, what kind of people are affected, what kind of workers are having to miss work, etc. 

Speaking of maps, John Nelson, a digital mapmaker at IDVsolutions in Michigan, has one that shows where the biggest wildfires have been in the US over the past decade. It's color-coded by intensity -- low-intensity purple for most in Texas -- up through red to hottest yellow. The data is from NASA satellites. Nelson said he cut off the smallest fires, using only those that produce 100 megawatts of energy. Find it at http://uxblog.idvsolutions.com/2012/07/major-fires-since-2001.html. He also has one showing the tracks of all US tornadoes for the last half-century at http://uxblog.idvsolutions.com/2012/05/tornado-tracks.html and more than 100 years of earthquakes at http://uxblog.idvsolutions.com/2012/06/earthquakes-since-1898.html.

Speaking of fire maps, the Austin Fire Department has a free online map showing the wildfire danger level at your house. Go to http://www.prepared.ly/users/sign_up and create an account, then enter your address (or anyone else's) in the search-for space. It doesn't have to be in Austin...my address in JC worked fine.

Speaking of wildfires, a fellow whose home had a good view of the Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs set up a camera with a time-lapse feature on his balcony, and recorded five days of fire to play back in 15 minutes. It seems like it's much shorter, though. You'll see the first smoke plumes, then follow as the winds rise and fall and shift direction, as the firefighters gain control and lose it. Even continues through the night (a fire provides its own light, you know). http://earthsky.org/earth/five-day-timelapse-video-wildfire-near-colorado-springs?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=765381f213-DR_590&utm_medium=email

The American Red Cross offers a free app for iPhones and Androids to track hurricanes and keep up with storm conditions and forecasts. It also has a one-button notification to tell your social media friends and family that you're safe. It's called "Hurricane" and is downloadable free from http://www.redcross.org/hurricaneapp/.

Did you hear about the Aggie who tried to find disaster information on his e-reader? No joke. The AgriLife Extension folks at Texas A&M University have put a bunch of preparedness and recovery guidance in e-book format, and have posted them for free download. They don't take up much room in a Kindle or , or tablet or even smartphone, so you can load 'em and forget 'em...until you need 'em. Go to http://southwestfarmpress.com/management/expert-prepare-now-downloading-disaster-related-publications-mobile-devices and pull down all you want.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have posted guidance for older adults in disasters. Whether you are one or help care for one, find it at  http://www.cdc.gov/Features/EmergencyOlderAdults/?s_cid=ccu060412_006.

It's not very dramatic, as disasters go, unless you're part of it, but the whooping cough epidemic has jumped international. Officially named pertussis, the disease is most often thought of as one that used to affect young children, whose whooping gasps for breath through their smaller trachea give the disease its common name. Less well known, it also affects older kids and adults. There's a vaccine to prevent it, but it requires a booster. Why an epidemic now? Pertussis used to kill thousands of children in the US every year, then almost disappeared once a vaccine (part of the TDaP shot) came along. But one doctor claimed the vaccine had harmful side effects. He never proved his theory, and it has since been proven bogus. Even the medical journal which gave the theory some ink has since apologized and retracted it, but enough parents were frightened that thousands of kids have grown up without vaccinations...eroding our "herd immunity" and not only remaining at risk themselves but helping spread it. Texas and California had outbreaks a couple of years back; Washington state (with the most liberal vaccination opt-out laws in the country) declared an epidemic in April; now the disease has exploded in more states and crossed into other countries. And, with vaccination, it's almost entirely preventable. More at the CDC's pertussis information page at  http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2012/06/pertussis-are-you-protected/?s_cid=ccu061812_016.


Want to see something different in these updates? Get off the email list? Add friends to it? Let us hear.

George Barnette
Blanco County Volunteers
830-868-0808
http://www.blancocountydisasterresponsegroup.org/


FROM THE 07/01/12 BCDRG NEWSLETTER

In this issue of Disaster Update:

1. No Debby
2. Colorado fires
3. Burn buckets?
4. Texas Unites
5. Training classes here
6. Other people's training, which you're welcome to take

1. NO DEBBY -- Tropical Storm Debby is a good example of why meteorologists go gray early. The storm formed up in the Straits of Yucatán, between Mexico and Cuba, and slowly drifted north into the Gulf and into weak and conflicting steering currents. The first thought was a front moving southeast would catch it and send it east across Florida into the Atlantic. It didn't. Then the computers guessed a high over Texas would catch it and send it west across the Gulf to South Texas or Mexico. It didn't. Then Debby was expected to just drift slowly north across the Florida Panhandle. It didn't. Instead, it finally got caught by a front, which propelled it east across the peninsula, but slowly, leaving deep flooding behind.

It was a good reminder, though, that "just" a tropical storm can park itself in place or move very slowly, leaving catastrophic flooding. Remember that the categories of tropical cyclones are based on wind, and there is no correlation between wind speed and rainfall.

Also a good reminder that despite a "normal" hurricane year prediction, Debby was our fourth named storm of the year and we're still a long way to the peak of the season.

2. COLORADO FIRES -- Here's a time-waster for folks interested in the great wildfires in New Mexico and Colorado: you can track the firefighting progress through your own computer in real time...as it happens. First, go to http://www.radioreference.com/ and click one of the "Live Audio" rectangles. On the US map, click the state where the incident is. You'll get a map of that state, with the counties highlighted where emergency frequencies are monitored on the website. Those tend to be urban counties; the New Mexico fires are in counties where the radios are not monitored on the website. In Colorado, both the big fires are in monitored areas. For example, click on El Paso County around Colorado Springs, and get a list of agencies whose radio calls are available on the web page, and click the speaker icon on the right to choose one to listen to. You'll get a small window with the radio controls and, in a moment, the radio will turn itself on and begin delivering radio traffic from the scene. Note that there may be long quiet periods between calls, so be patient if you don't hear any calls for a few minutes, especially at night.

As you listen, note locations...road numbers, street names, street numbers. Then go to Google maps (or another map source) and enter the location. You'll get a map showing that location and the surrounding area. As more locations come in, look for them, too, expanding or contracting your on-screen map as appropriate. In a short time, you should be able to see where the action is, and what's located nearby, and what's in danger as the fire moves. 

Another map source, especially valuable in park lands and thinly populated areas, is the US Geological Survey. The detailed topographic maps are available on line to read or print from http://store.usgs.gov/b2c_usgs/b2c/start/(xcm=r3standardpitrex_prd)/.do;jsessionid=(J2EE8933300)ID1220327750DB01832155013117260691End;saplb_*=(J2EE8933300)8933350

Same thing works on other kinds of disasters, too...hurricanes, flooding, and the aftermath of tornadoes.

3. BURN BUCKETS? -- We're considering doing a burn-bucket assembly day -- packing buckets with fire cleanup supplies -- to ship to Colorado wildfire survivors. Same thing we did last fall for Spicewood and Bastrop wildfire survivors. If you'll help support that with a donation of goods or time, please let me know by email. 

4. TEXAS UNITES -- The Texas Unites conference was in San Antonio earlier this month. The focus was on volunteer groups, such as ours, and the kinds of things we can do to prepare for and respond to disaster. Some good sessions, learned some valuable things, made some good contacts.

In volunteer training, we're ahead in some areas and behind in others. We're prepared for some tasks that most other groups aren't, but they're ready for some we haven't considered...and can add to our schedule over the next year or so.

One thing is donation and distribution center work. A lot of goods will be donated, and have to be sorted and inspected before they are distributed to survivors. Local volunteers will take over those jobs in time, but in the first couple of weeks it is helpful to have outside volunteers who already know how to do it.

Last year we launched our rehab center and cooling tent for firefighters and other who get overheated in outdoor activity. There is a formal course for volunteering in a rehab unit, and we'll bring that to Blanco County, too.

My great fear continues to be having to run a shelter for a large group of Functional Needs people...the chronically ill and physically or mentally challenged. Picked up some more ideas how to do that with limited resources, but even with Red Cross support we're likely to fall short of requirements. We'll work on that.

5. TRAINING CLASSES HERE -- This month we'll start a short sprint to get volunteers prepared to help the American Red Cross as the peak of hurricane season approaches. On the 21st, we'll do an introductory session for folks who really don't know how the Red Cross works in disasters and what roles they might play in the response. Shelter work is only one of those roles, but it's always needed, so we'll do a day of shelter training in August, probably early in the month. 

August is also the month we want to do a wildfire prevention and preparation course. There are a lot of folks in Colorado who would have benefitted from that kind of preparation. 

In September we'll host a two-day (including an overnight stay) course in helping children after disasters. The trainers would like for you to take the course and then volunteer to help staff child care areas of emergency shelters when needed. The content also comes in handy anytime you need to help kids work through crisis situations, from loss of a pet to divorce between parents. There is a charge -- $45 -- which covers the out-of-pocket expenses, including trainer travel and your meals. This course will max out...it will draw from all over Texas and surrounding states...so get on the list early.

We're hoping to get a rural foot search and rescue course -- with field exercise -- for October. Ought to be fun and, about once a year, useful in helping locate missing persons.

6. OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING -- which you're welcome to take. Courses are free unless otherwise noted; some require registration. (Check on Red Cross courses with the chapter concerned. The online training schedule has been known to be in error...often...sometimes dramatically so.)

The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter) courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville unless otherwise noted. To register for a class, call 830-792-4677.

7/21 9-4 New Employee/Volunteer Orientation and Disaster Services Overview. Orientation to how the ARC and Hill Country Chapter work and respond to disasters, and roles you can play in them. Class will be in Blanco.

ARC Centex Chapter in Austin trains at its Chapter House at at 2218 Pershing Drive. To register for a class, call Raymond Miller at 512-929-1225 or email raymond.miller@redcross.org

7/10 6-9:30 Disaster Services Overview. Same introductory course we'll have on the 21st.
7/19 6-10 Psychological First Aid. Good course; same one we offered in early May, and again in Spicewood in June. How to recognize signs a person is unable to handle the stress he or she is under, and what to do about it.
7/28 8:30-12 Disaster Services Overview. If you miss this course in Blanco the preceding week, you can catch it in Austin.
7/28 1-3 Disaster Action Team Workshop. These are the folks who show up for minor emergencies, such as house-fires, to provide fast assistance to survivors.

ARC San Antonio Chapter trains at its Chapter House at 3642 East Houston Street. To register, call 210-224-5151 or go to http://www.saredcross.org/.

7/07 9-12 Disaster Services Overview. Same introductory course we'll offer in Blanco on the 21st.
7/14 9-12 Disaster Action Team Workshop. These are the folks who show up for minor emergencies, such as house-fires, to provide fast assistance to survivors.
7/21 9-11:30 Disaster Assessment Basics. How to quickly size up the scope of damage done in a disaster, to guide needed response resources.
7/21 12-4 Fundamentals of Disaster Assessment. Part two of the morning course.
7/27 1-2:30 Disaster Services Overview. Same introductory course we'll offer in Blanco on the 21st.

7/10 2 pm FEMA webinar on "How to Engage Your Community in Service Projects Year Round". Not sure what we'd learn from that, since we already do it, but you never know where good ideas will come from. There's no go-to contact published yet, but check back at http://www.ready.gov/ as the date gets closer.

By request, here again is the internet address of the free live-action wind map of the US. Pretty dramatic stuff during the western wildfires and Tropical Storm Debby. http://hint.fm/wind/?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=07725af25f-DR_585&utm_medium=email

Your smartphone can tell you how well your house would stand up to a serious windstorm. There's an app for that...called "Stormstruck", and it's offered free from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. Go via computer to http://www.stormstruck.com first and play with it, then download the app to play on the move

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have posted a guide on line for helping identify and improve protection for older adults during emergencies. Also covers pertinent laws. http://www.cdc.gov/aging/emergency/planning_tools/guide.htm

How about hazardous weather and other emergency alerts on your cell phone? The Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) service is from the wireless industry association and several federal agencies. You'll need to register for the no-charge alerts through your own cell service provider, but you can start at http://www.ctia.org/consumer_info/safety/index.cfm/AID/12082

Want to know what critical facilities would go under water in a 100-year flood (or sea-level rise) on the Texas (or any other US state) coast? There's an interactive map at http://www.csc.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/tools/criticalfacilities/download?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=e85c0b18fc-DR_589&utm_medium=email that will tell you. Harbors, power plants, refineries, highways, your beach house. 

Of course you remember what vaccinations you've had and when, and when you're due for a booster for each. No? VaxNatlion can help. It's a free on line site where you can input your vaccination record, and it'll tell you when you need a booster or original shot and where to find them close by. VaxNation will even send you an email reminder when you're due for a booster. For all the deets, go to http://www.vaxnation.org/?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=e85c0b18fc-DR_589&utm_medium=email

bReddi is a Facebook app that will let you designate one person outside the disaster area as your lifeline contact when a disaster happens. Instead of you communicating directly -- and redundantly -- with lots of people, you go to the lifeline designee with your status, whereabouts, needs, and plans, and the lifeline partner can pass all that on to everyone else. It also works the other way, keeping you advised of emergencies where your friends and family live. It's free, of course. Go to http://www.breddi.com/?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=e85c0b18fc-DR_589&utm_medium=email

Want to see something different in these updates? Get off the email list? Add friends to it? Let us hear.

George Barnette
Blanco County Volunteers
830-868-0808
http://www.blancocountydisasterresponsegroup.org/


FROM THE 06/01/12 BCDRG NEWSLETTER

In this issue of Disaster Update:

1. Our training
2. Other people's training, which you're welcome to take

1. OUR TRAINING -- We and the American Red Cross did a Psychological First Aid course May 5 for 13 students. It was a good number of participants and those present were engaged and alert. The instructor was happy. Red Cross was happy. Students were happy.

We and Pat Moore of Marble Falls offered a class on general disaster preparations for home and business in Blanco May 19 for no students. Nobody showed. One problem was the Blanco paper didn't run the event announcement again, so only those on this email list knew about it. With one exception, that's been Blanco's level of interest and participation. Not sure what to do about that. Maybe just offer courses in JC and let Blanco folks make the drive.

We'd planned a wildfire preparation and prevention session in Blanco this month, but will slide that to later in the summer. Not sure yet where. One major attraction is to ask the VFDs to provide folks to look at residents photos, maps and drawings of their homes and yards, and advise them on making them more wildfire-proof. Will let you know when it gets scheduled.

2. OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING -- which you're welcome to take. Courses are free unless otherwise noted; some require registration.

The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter) courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville unless otherwise noted. To register for a class, call 830-792-4677.
6/7 9-5 ERVs: Ready, Set, Roll. An ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle) looks like a Red Cross ambulance with a window in one side. In emergency response, it may carry workers, supplies, or meals around the disaster area. This course teaches how ERV crews do that.
6/18 9-5:30 Health Services Response Workshop. For licensed healthcare professionals; how to serve the health needs of people in disasters.
ARC Centex Chapter in Austin trains at its Chapter House at at 2218 Pershing Drive. To register for a class, call Stephanie Cosmas at 512-929-1294 or email scosmas@centex.redcross.org
6/20 8:30-11:30 Shelter Operations. How the ARC opens, operates and closes emergency shelters, and where you might fit into the process.
6/20 1-4:30 Shelter Simulation. Hands-on exercise to see how much you learned during the morning class.
6/23 6-9:30 Disaster Services: An Overview. Who does what in the Red Cross in a disaster, and where you can fit in. Basic training for new volunteers.
ARC San Antonio Chapter trains at its Chapter House at 3642 East Houston Street. To register, call 210-224-5151 or go to http://www.saredcross.org/
No ARC training listed for June in San Antonio.

TEXAS UNITES CONFERENCE -- This one is 6/13-15 in San Antonio, which makes for a reasonable commute or take them up on one of the good-deal hotel rates and make it a mini-vacation. TheCost of the conference is $125. You can register on line at http://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1063159. Wednesday morning sessions are four-hour training courses and the afternoon is formalities, but the rest of the week's sessions are hour-and-a-half presentations and interactive sessions on topics we're likely to encounter. Looks like it will be worth both time and money.

The Psychological First Aid course we had in JC last month will be offered again in our area this month. It is Wednesday, 6/20, from 1-5 pm at Grace Outreach Family Church at 20808 Hwy 71 West in Spicewood, between Johnson City and Bee Cave. You can register for the free course on line by going to  https://classes.redcross.org and signing up for offering # 01543342. If you have trouble signing up, call Kevin Fincher at (800) 928-4271 ext 221 or email him at kevin.fincher@redcross.org

Our Memorial Day holiday weekend disaster used-clothing drive was considered a success even though we didn't fill the truck trailer. Last year we did, but the trailer then was half the size of the one we were allocated this year. The system is this: we collect used clothing in the Hill Country, then turn it all over to the Seventh-day Adventists, who sort, sanitize and store it until there's a disaster anywhere in the US, then they roll a truck filled with clothing, ready for immediate use. We and they can do our work in tranquil times, and their shipments of screened goods arrive while they're still needed. Much better than spur of the moment reactions after the fact. Despite the success this time, we're already planning for bigger and better in 2013. If you have suggestions, let us hear from you. 

The latest hurricane season forecast fits with those before...a "normal" hurricane year, but with caveats. First, it assumes an El Niño environment develops in the Pacific, which diminishes the number of Atlantic hurricanes. Second, while pre-season named storms are not unheard-of, it is very abnormal to have two before the official June 1 start of the season. Third, remember Hurricane Andrew? It was the first named storm of 1992, and came late in the otherwise quiet season. And while last season was quiet for us, the Labor Day wildfires were propelled by strong winds on the back side of a Louisiana tropical storm that never reached Texas. Upshot: expect a light season, but keep an eye on the weather.

A report from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) says despite our perception of increased terror danger, terrorism in the US actually has declined over the past few decades. START says the 1,500 terroristic events in the 1970s were mostly committed by left-wing extremists. Ethnic and separatist groups contributed some, and continued into the 1980s, but religious groups committed most of the incidents in the '80s. Terrorism in the 1990s can be blamed mostly on right-wing extremists, the report said...then the number suddenly dropped off sharply. 2001 is the year of the World Trade Center attacks, of course, but the number of incidents was low and has continued so.

The Hill Country Portal has added a page for law enforcement and emergency/disaster response in the Hill Country, with contact information for federal, state and local resources...plus non-profits and faith-based entities. Check 'em out at http://www.hillcountryportal.com/hillcountryemergencies.html.

The ARC Psychological First Aid course mentioned above covers general emergency situations, but a combination of fear and ignorance can make the psych effects of a radiation incident -- like a terrorist dirty bomb -- can be a special case. The US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control has a short, free on-line course to cover that difference, Psychological First Aid in Radiation Disasters, at http://cdc.train.org/DesktopModules/eLearning/CourseDetails/CourseDetailsForm.aspx?tabid=62&courseid=1024901.

COMET, the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training, has a free on-line course on Anticipating Hazardous Weather and Community Risk. It'll teach you how to recognize potentially hazardous weather, how to read and interpret weather warnings, and how the weather forecasting system works. To reach the course, go through the FEMA Emergency Management Institute to http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/is271.asp.

Want to see something different in these updates? Get off the email list? Add friends to it? Let us hear.

George Barnette
Blanco County Disaster Response Group
830-868-0808
http://www.blancocountydisasterresponsegroup.org

FROM THE 05/01/12 BCDRG NEWSLETTER

In this issue of Disaster Update:

1. Upcoming training
2. Texas Unites Conference
3. Rowdy crowd
4. Spicewood fire recovery
4. Other people's training, which you're welcome to take

1. UPCOMING TRAINING -- Couple of courses coming up right away.

We and the American Red Cross have a free course Saturday afternoon, 5/5, from 1 to about 4 on Psychological First Aid. Just as the regular first aid course teaches you how to recognize signs a person is in physical distress and what to do about it, this one teaches the signs of psychological stress, what immediate steps you can take to keep it from getting worse, then where and how to get appropriate help. It's intended as a post-disaster skill, but the techniques also work in other situations closer to home: divorce, death in the family, loss of a job, even recognizing when you're sliding into hyper-stress yourself. It's in the Activity Building of the First United Methodist Church in Johnson City.

We're also doing one on general disaster preparations for home and business, in Blanco, tentatively at the Blanco United Methodist Church, at 1 pm Saturday, May 19. Pat Moore of Marble Falls will reprise her first-class presentation on disaster preps. More details as we get closer.

Church World Service offers a free two-day (but short days) webinar which you can attend through your computer. It's the basics of Long-Term Recovery Committees, and it is from noon to 2:30 CST Tuesday and Wednesday, 5/1-5/2. Last month's webinar...the slides and notes for which are available for downloading...was mostly on different types of leadership needed in Long-Term Recovery, so it's related. It's all free, but you need to register at http://www.cwserp.org/.

2. TEXAS UNITES CONFERENCE -- This one isn't until mid-June, but you ought to plan ahead this month. The three-day San Antonio conference focuses on volunteer organizations (like us) and things they can do in disaster preparation and response. For one thing, it's at the Hyatt on the Riverwalk, and the organizers have arranged a special conference rate of $99 a night in the hotel, but to get the deal you have to sign up by May 21 (I also have been given May 23 as the deadline, but assuming the earlier date always is safer). Makes the event not only educational but a mini-vacation, too. Cost of the conference is $125. You can register on line at http://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1063159.

Wednesday morning sessions are four-hour training courses and the afternoon is formalities, but the rest of the week's sessions are hour-and-a-half presentations and interactive sessions on topics we're likely to encounter. 

3. ROWDY CROWD -- We had passed along an opportunity to be a volunteer crash test dummy for the Austin Police Department's Special Response Team and its newly learned crowd control techniques. I intended to go with some of our volunteers, but my immune system's ongoing revolt forced me into a tactical retreat. Those who went, however, reported they had a great time providing the crowd-control cops a...um...memorable afternoon. Who else gives you a chance to have that kind of fun without being put on the no-fly list?

4. SPICEWOOD FIRE RECOVERY -- Tasks suitable for individual and small groups are sprouting in Spicewood's recovery from the Labor Day fires. 

One is installation of two windows in a rehabbed home...the last chore remaining once the new roof is finished, which could come within the week. A family was able to buy the house and fix it up...except for the roof and windows, which the Long-Term Recovery Committee paid for. Now they're down to two windows that are bought and awaiting installation. There is some unskilled labor willing to help, but they heed someone who knows how to do windows to head the crew. If that's you, please email me back and we'll set up a work day at your convenience.

4. OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING -- which you're welcome to take. Courses are free unless otherwise noted; some require registration.

The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter) courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville unless otherwise noted. To register for a class, call 830-792-4677.

SABA, the ARC's find-every-training-class-in-one-place webpage, says the Hill Country Chapter isn't doing disaster classes this month. Most likely a computer glitch. 

ARC Centex Chapter in Austin trains at its Chapter House at at 2218 Pershing Drive. To register for a class, call Stephanie Cosmas at 512-929-1294 or email scosmas@centex.redcross.org.

5/8 6-9:30 Disaster Services: An Overview. Who does what in the Red Cross in a disaster, and where you can fit in. Basic training for new volunteers.
5/12 8:30-5 Mass Care II. Advanced sheltering, feeding, and other care for people in emergency shelters. 
5/19 8:30-12 Disaster Services: An Overview. Who does what in the Red Cross in a disaster, and where you can fit in. Basic training for new volunteers.
5/22 6-9 Disaster Action Team Workshop. These are the folks who show up for minor emergencies, such as house-fires, to provide fast assistance to survivors.

ARC San Antonio Chapter trains at its Chapter House at 3642 East Houston Street. To register, call 210-224-5151 or go to http://www.saredcross.org/.

5/12 9-12 Disaster Action Team (DAT) Orientation. For new members of the local teams who provide immediate care for those affected by "minor" disasters, such as housefires. This is disaster response closer to home and more person than the big events that make headlines.
5/12 9-3 ERVs: Ready, Set, Roll. An ERV is an emergency response vehicle, a big ambulance-looking truck that may be a supply hauler in the morning, a food distribution vehicle at midday, and carry workers back from assignments in the afternoon. This course teaches how to operate an ERV and do all the things it may be called to do.

Columbia University has a free 2-hour online course in decision-making and problem-solving under emergency conditions...in fact, that's the name of the course. It's intended for health professionals, but applies to anyone in a leadership capacity in or after a disaster. You have to register, but there's no charge. Go to http://ncdp.crlctraining.org/catalog/course.asp?id=39&cid=3

EMI -- FEMA's Emergency Management Institute -- has online courses you can take in your pajamas, and they're free. A basic one is Introduction to Incident Command System, ICS-100. ICS is the structure every disaster works under, everywhere in the country, every time. If you know the ICS system you can walk into any command post and know where you fit in, who you report to, and what your job will be. Start at http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/IS100b.asp and follow the directions.

Here's one of the coolest things you can find on your computer, and it's free. It's an active map of where and how fast the winds are blowing over the US. Sounds boring, but open it up and I guarantee you'll be fascinated. Looks like hair or tall grass blowing in the breeze. http://hint.fm/wind/?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=07725af25f-DR_585&utm_medium=email

Scientific research papers on any topic can be hard to find and expensive to access, and disaster response is no exception. The non-profit Public Library of Science has provided a site where authors of papers can post them for free access...which we hope more writers will do. Check the titles so far at http://currents.plos.org/disasters/?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=07725af25f-DR_585&utm_medium=email

Another information site has a misleading name: Disaster Information for Librarians. What they mean is, for librarians who have a request for a disaster topic from a library patron and doesn't know where to go. On line, of course, you can bypass the library and go get it yourself at this site. It's intended for disaster health topics, but not exclusively so, and expanding. http://hlwiki.slais.ubc.ca/index.php/Disaster_Information_For_Librarians?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=07725af25f-DR_585&utm_medium=email

Our Memorial Day weekend disaster clothing drive was such a success last year, we're doing it again. Lots of folks want to gather used clothing and send it to the survivors after a disaster strikes, but the need for used clothing usually is pretty short, and clothing drives take time, plus delivery time, so the piles of old clothes often just turn into mounds of unused debris at the receiving end. Disaster managers refer to used clothing as a "second disaster". We don't do it that way. We partner with the Seventh-day Adventists, who have a warehouse in Alvarado, near Dallas, and who take in all the clothes we can collect, sort it, sanitize it, and package it by type and size. Then, when there's a disaster, their truck rolls with immediate clothing aid, while it's still needed. All we have to do is take it in and hand it over; they do the heavy work. We'll open the intake point at the First United Methodist Church in Johnson City from 9-5 Saturday, 1-5 Sunday and 9-5 Monday of Memorial Day weekend, May 26-28. We need volunteers to keep the doors open during those hours, so please let us know if you can give us a few hours for a shift. And remember to clean out your own closets, too. Then, when you see the tornado or hurricane or fire pictures on TV you'll know your help already is on the way.

Want to see something different in these updates? Get off the email list? Add friends to it? Let us hear.

George Barnette
Blanco County Disaster Response Group
830-868-0808
http://www.blancocountydisasterresponsegroup.org/


FROM THE 04/02/12 (Revised 4/4/2012) BCDRG NEWSLETTER

In this issue of Disaster Update:

1. Best Training Deal in Texas
2. National Hurricane Conference
3. Spicewood fire recovery
4. Other people's training, which you're welcome to take

1. BEST TRAINING DEAL IN TEXAS -- It's the Texas Emergency Management Conference in San Antonio, Monday through Thursday of this week. Costs $150 but worth it if you're seriously interested in disaster response in Texas. I rate this conference about even with the National Hurricane Conference (which costs twice as much, plus expenses) because what it lacks in top national level material it makes up for in Texas-specific content. If my calendar hadn't clogged up with must-do meetings this week, I'd be there. From Blanco County, it's an easy commute to the Gonzalez convention center, so a hotel isn't required. 

Yes, I know you're probably reading this Monday morning, and registration opens at 8 Monday, but most of the afternoon is open session VIP speeches and the first workshop isn't 'til 4:30, so there's plenty of time. The concentrated stuff starts Tuesday morning. 

General information & registration links: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem/conference/txEmerMgmtConf.htm

2. NATIONAL HURRICANE CONFERENCE -- I go to this one every year I can, not because hurricanes are so much of a threat to the Hill Country but because it does such a good job spanning all sorts of disaster response. In the first session, I was able to steal enough ideas from the State of Florida and Shreveport, La, which is even farther inland than we are, to make the trip worth it. 

Spent much of my time in sessions about my greatest fear: a general population shelter that draws a lot of functional needs/special needs guests. By federal law, we must take them in and try to accommodate their needs, but in Blanco County we have zero resources with which to do that; local volunteers don't, local government doesn't, local economy doesn't, and outside aid is a long way off if we're high enough up their priority list to get it at all. Found some ways to reduce the problem, but not eliminate it. As is often the case, the Dept of Justice started a couple of years ago with threats of heavy penalties for not complying, but has backed off now that they have everyone's attention. Yes, we still have to let seeing-eye dogs into shelters, but no, we don't have to admit cats and boa constrictors. We still have to admit the 400-lb man, but we don't have to provide a special bed. Still, no resources is no resources. How do we run a respirator without electricity? How do we get meds for a critical psych patient with no scrip? 

Other highlights...using social media for disaster communication...the TV weatherguy who said public officials abdicate their responsibilities to their constituents when they leave it to TV weatherguys to tell folks what to do...more sources of more kinds of support we may need...ways small groups can pool efforts to do big relief jobs...accommodating religious, cultural and social needs...fatal effects of evacuating nursing homes, even for a short time and distance.

We'll integrate some of it into our own planning over the next year, and try to use some to amend our relationships with other response entities. Always improving.

3. SPICEWOOD FIRE RECOVERY ROLLING -- Work should begin this week on getting the first families back into permanent housing through the Spicewood Long-Term Recovery Committee. The United Methodist Church is partnering with the Lutherans on the first job, and will fund the second and third alone to prime the pump and get some success stories on the table to attract the larger donors who will underwrite the larger projects. 

These will be turn-key jobs...we're not yet to the kind of construction that will involve volunteers...but that's just around the corner.

4. OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING -- which you're welcome to take. Courses are free unless otherwise noted; some require registration.

The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter) courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville unless otherwise noted. To register for a class, call 830-257-4677.

4/13 9:30-5:30 Disaster Fundraising. Not glamorous, but without it the ARC's wheels coast to a stop, even in disasters.
4/10 6-9 Adult CPR/AED. ($90)
4/14 1-5 Client Casework; Providing Emergency Assistance. How to start and maintain the paperwork that gets aid flowing quickly to the survivors who need it.
4/16 9-4 Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED. The full course. ($110)
4/19 9-2 Adult First Aid/CPR/AED. ($90)
4/19 5-6 New Employee and Volunteer Orientation. How the chapter works and who does it, for newcomers.

ARC Centex Chapter in Austin trains at its Chapter House at at 2218 Pershing Drive. To register for a class, call Stephanie Cosmas at 512-929-1294 or email scosmas@centex.redcross.org.

4/12 6-9:30 Disaster Services; An Overview. Intro to ARC disaster services.
4/13 12-1 New Employee and Volunteer Orientation. How the chapter works and who does it, for newcomers.
4/14 8-12 Disaster Instructor Specialty Training. Become an ARC instructor.
4/14 9-4 Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED. The full course. ($110)
4/15 9-2:30 Adult First Aid/CPR/AED. ($90)
4/17 6-9 Shelter Operations. How the ARC opens, runs and closes shelters, and the role of volunteers.
4/20 9-2:30 Adult First Aid/CPR/AED. ($90)
4/21 8:30-4:30 Disaster Frontline Supervisor/Simulation. How to manage volunteers in ARC activities during disasters, and exercise to test skills.
4/23 9-4 Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED. The full course. ($110)
4/26 6-7 New Employee and Volunteer Orientation. How the chapter works and who does it, for newcomers.
4/28 8:30-12 Disaster Services; An Overview. Intro to ARC disaster services.
4/28 1-4 Disaster Action Team Workshop. How to assist survivors of "minor" disasters, like house-fires.
4/30 6-9 Adult CPR/AED. ($90)

ARC San Antonio Chapter trains at its Chapter House at 3642 East Houston Street. To register, call 210-224-5151 or go to http://www.saredcross.org/.

4/9 6-9:30 Adult CPR/AED. ($90)
4/13 9-12:30 First Aid. ($70)
4/14 9-4:30 Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED. The full course. ($110)
4/19 9-5 First Aid/CPR/AED Instructor. Learn how to teach it. ($500)
4/23 6-9:30 AdultCPR/AED. ($70)
4/24 & 4/26 6-9 Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED. The full course. ($110)

Church World Service offers a short webinar ideal for folks just getting into disaster response: "Who Does What in Disasters" at 1 pm CDT Tuesday. There are lots of players on the filed...some come and leave early, some come and stay late, some are narrowly specific and some do lots of things. How to tell 'em even without a scorecard. Free, attend via computer, register at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/864501035.

While you're at the CWS website, download the slides and notes from the February session on VALs, Voluntary Agency Liaisons, who make the link between the faith-based and volunteer groups we're likely to be involved and the government agencies we need to work with.

FEMA has a free course in making the workplace more secure, on the theory that every workplace has some security threats built in. Here's how to find 'em and fix 'em, in a short course you can take by computer. Go to http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/IS906.asp and sign up. Tip: download and print the final exam questions before you take the course, as a guide to what you need to be getting out of it. Yes, this is allowed.

A similar free FEMA course -- also via internet -- is on protecting your home and business from disaster. Basic stuff, but hidden in there is at least one thing you've overlooked. Start at http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/IS394A.asp and follow instructions.

Do you TWIT? If you don't because Twitter looks more complicated than you want to fool with, the Aggies are willing to explain it to you. The Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health has a new, free, online course on using Twitter as an entry to using other social media for public health purposes. You can go as slowly as you need to and nobody will complain. Go to http://www.rural-preparedness.org/campus/showCourseDescription.aspx?CourseID=17d4fe2d-358b-469f-aeda-a2004d3b49d4 and click "Register".

Aaaannnd it's time for everybody's favorite field exercise: getting knee-walking drunk on the City of Austin's nickel. The Austin PD cadet class needs to do a Standard Field Sobriety Test training 4/20, from 5:30 pm to midnight, and in order to test drunks for intoxication, they need intoxicated drunks. You'll need to be 21 or older, have a clean drunk driving record, and have a designated (sober) driver to take you home (the place will be crawling with cops at closing time). They'll feed you a fixed amount of alcohol over a prescribed period, then see how accurately the cadets figure out who's legally plowed. Good exercise for the Mothers Against Drunk Driving group. To volunteer, contact Cadet Instructor Jason Wolf at the APD training academy, jason.wolf@ci.austin.tx.us, or call him at 512-974-5895. You don't get these opportunities from just everybody, you know.

Want to see something different in these updates? Get off the email list? Add friends to it? Let us hear.

George Barnette
Blanco County Disaster Response Group
830-868-0808
http://www.blancocountydisasterresponsegroup.org


FROM THE 03/02/12 BCDRG NEWSLETTER

In this issue of Disaster Update:

1. Spicewood fire recovery
2. Our training plans
3. Other people's training, which you're welcome to take

1. SPICEWOOD FIRE RECOVERY ROLLING -- Spicewood's rebuilding from the Labor Day wildfires is coming in fits and starts...those with minor damage, insurance or savings are rebuilding their homes...those relying on help are moving much more slowly. We're hoping to get the building jobs going soon and will be calling for day, weekend or week-long volunteers to come help swing a hammer for a neighbor.

The roofing project turned out to be better contracted than handled by amateurs. A contractor offered to do it for $200 over cost, so the committee agreed to spend the money on that instead of bandages.

2. OUR TRAINING PLANS -- We have an ambitious lineup for 2012. It'll be interesting to see whether we can pull it off. All dates are still soft.

Spring -- American Red Cross introduction to disaster and shelter training, in Blanco.

Spring -- American Red Cross psychological first aid, in Johnson City. Really good basic course in recognizing issues in people (both survivors and responders) trying to deal with the stress of chaos and shock. The principles also are readily transferred to smaller disasters, including death in the family, job loss, etc.

Late spring -- During the hurricane preparedness promotion around June 1, we'll bring in a general home preparation course for all disasters, from floods to winter storms. It'll not only help you make physical preps, but also tell you what papers you ought to be able to grab quickly.

Late spring or early summer -- American Red Cross first aid and CPR. Many of our certifications are getting old, if not expired.

Summer -- Wildfire safety for rural homes. We live in the sticks, and as we learned last summer, those sticks can burn fast and hot. Happily, you can make your country paradise a little (or a lot) more fire-safe. We'll show you how, and let you bring in photos and maps to ask experts exactly what to do at your house.

Summer -- We've been selected to host a multi-state, two-day training course on working with children in disasters. It's a big deal, because this course is considered the national gold standard for the field, with graduates working with children's disaster response all over the US. As with psychological first aid, the principles scale down to include family crisis as well as the headline grabbers...I've used them myself on small relatives in stress. Premium training. 

Fall -- Our rural search and rescue training with field exercise may finally happen! An Austin outfit is willing to come teach us how to do SAR on foot and with off-road vehicles -- not horseback -- because they need more manpower when they do searches for missing persons. They missed a victim near Lake Travis last week simply because they had to spread out too much. More searchers might have found her.

3. OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING -- which you're welcome to take. Courses are free unless otherwise noted; some require registration.

The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter) courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville unless otherwise noted. To register for a class, call 830-792-4677.

3/17 9-5 Shelter Operations -- Same course we plan to bring to Blanco, but sooner. How the ARC sets up and runs emergency shelters, and what volunteers do in them.
3/22 6-9 Disaster Action Team (DAT) Workshop -- How local ARC volunteers respond to the mini-emergencies like housefires that deliver immediate relief to families who need it. Take the class, join the Blanco County DAT team.
3/23 6-9 Mass Care Action Team Workshop -- How the ARC delivers mass care in emergencies and roles you an play in the job.
3/24 8-5 Logistics Overview and Simulation -- Class and exercise in moving bulk emergency supplies in when needed, getting them sorted and then out the door to wherever they're needed. Harder than it sounds.
3/24 8-12 Disaster Frontline Supervisor -- How to manage volunteers in a disaster environment.
3/24 1-5 ERV Ready Set Roll -- An ERV is that box-back ambulance-looking truck that serves the ARC as everything from a people mover to a feeding canteen. Its multiple roles require a little instruction to master, but once done, it's a rewarding specialty where you meet survivors at the point of service delivery every day.
3/31 10-5 Fundamental of Disaster Public Affairs: Local Response -- How to be a spokesperson for the ARC with local media and get the story out through those media. One of those critical behind-the-scenes jobs that sometimes leaks out into the bright TV lights.

ARC Centex Chapter in Austin trains at its Chapter House at at 2218 Pershing Drive. To register for a class, call Stephanie Cosmas at 512-929-1294 or email scosmas@centex.redcross.org.

3/7 6-9:30 Disaster Services: An Overview -- What the ARC does in disasters and how you fit into the process.
3/8 6-9 Disaster Action Team (DAT) Workshop -- DATs are the folks who respond immediately to local disasters like housefires, getting immediate aid to families stunned by a sudden catastrophe. This is people-helping up close and personal.
3/10 8-4:30 Serving People with Disabilities Following a Disaster -- For my money, the most valuable course I ever took from the ARC. Can you differentiate a PTSD patient from one with OCD who's off his meds? After a disaster, they'll all come through the door in various stages of distress.
3/27 6-9:30 Disaster Assessment Basics -- How to do a quick assessment of damage to homes to determine how much of a response is needed, how fast, and where.
3/31 8:30-4:30 Working with Total Diversity -- This once-a-year course introduces you to some of a unexpected cultures and sub-cultures you're likely to encounter in disaster response in Texas, and how to successfully deal with them.

ARC San Antonio Chapter trains at its Chapter House at 3642 East Houston Street. To register, call 210-224-5151 or go to http://www.saredcross.org/.

The San Antonio Chapter of the American Red Cross offers lots of disaster training courses in its 2012 Training Institute March 8-11. Yes, the dates are correct -- it goes over a weekend. There's a $5 administrative fee, no matter how many classes you sign up for. Start at http://www.saredcross.org/general.asp?SN=1942&OP=1946&SUOP=17401&IDCapitulo=3gb144pvak for the details and schedule.

3/8 6-9:30 Bulk Distribution Operations -- How to get disaster supplies into the warehouse, sorted, and shipped back out to where they're most needed, in the midst of chaos. If it sounds like a challenge, it is. 
3/8 8:30-5 Disaster Fundraising -- It is when the disaster is unfolding that people are most willing to contribute to relief campaigns, but doing that mid-disaster is a little tricky. The ARC will teach you how, and put you to work doing it.
3/8 1-5 Psychological First Aid -- As described above, it's one we want to bring to Blanco County this year. Good course to have.
3/9 8:30-5 In-Kind Donations Workshop -- Disasters also bring in donations of goods, from used clothes to canned food, and knowing what to accept when and what to do with it is a course in itself. This one.
3/11 8:30-5 Shelter Operations/Simulation -- How the ARC opens and operates a disaster shelter, then closes one down, which is almost as important. Second half is a practical exercise to test what you've learned.

The San Antonio Office of Emergency Management offers free courses in the snazzy Emergency Operations Center, which itself is worth the visit. Most of the courses are technical and aimed at professional managers and first-responders, but not all. On 3/15 there's one on the Bomb Making Awareness Program, which will teach you how to identify bomb-making ingredients in the cart ahead of you at the supermarket. They're also taking a course on the road to Castroville on 3/24, covering emergency operations plans for rural jurisdictions. The most interesting one would come at the end of the month -- a four day training exercise for the pros on emergency response involving an Amtrak train...but I don't think they want us in that one.

Church World Service offers a free online webinar featuring long-term recovery success stories from people who figured out how to do local disaster recovery successfully. It's 3/6 at 1 pm. Free registration at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/534510114

Austin and Travis County have finished a booklet to help you prepare for the rural wildland fire season. It's called "Ready, Set, Go!" and, its posted online for you to read or download free. Find it at http://www.co.travis.tx.us/fire_marshal/pdf_files/ReadySetGoTexasBooklet.pdf or http://www.co.travis.tx.us/fire_marshal/wildfire_preparedness.asp.

For those times you just know there's a lot of illness going around but you're not sure just what or where or how contagious it is, here's a new solution: Sick Weather. A fellow who spent his career at the Census Bureau using computers to map crime trends now is turning the same skills to tracking illness, in real-time online maps. Go to http://www.sickweather.com/home.php and pick your location...right down to the neighborhood. Just how sick are all those absentees from your kid's class? They're working on it.

Another disease tracker (aren't we cheery?) is from the folks at Google via http://www.google.org/flutrends/. It only tracks flu and only down to the state level. So far.

A more detailed information source from those data-miners at Google is Google Public Alerts. It's easy enough to keep up with the public notices of hazards threatening your home, but is the East Texas flooding going to threaten your vacation route? Is mom's house in Kansas included in the tornado warning? Normally those answer require some phone calls. Now you can go to http://www.google.org/publicalerts and tell it where you want to look.

The National Weather Service (NWS) says it is changing the way it disseminates severe weather information to the public and to disaster managers. In the past, data has been issued on fixed schedules, which sometimes didn't fit the weather's schedules, nor keep up with fast changes in situations. The NWS national operations center near Washington will address federal government agency headquarters and elected officials, and six regional operations centers will talk with agencies and officials in the states they cover. Rather than focus on standardized reports on weather phenomena, the NWS will aim more toward a continuing flow of information about the impact of real and potential weather events.  And more of it in plain English.

Here's your chance to get a ham radio license fast and cheap...five classes beginning March 24 from 10 am to 3 pm in the Auld Center in Kerrville. $40 plus $25 for the books and other class materials, then an FCC fee of $15 to take the exam. Still a good deal if you don't mind the drive. Look it up and register through www.clubed.net or email clubed@kerrvilleisd.net.

Want to see something different in these updates? Get off the email list? Add friends to it? Let us hear.

George Barnette
Blanco County Disaster Response Group
830-868-0808


FROM THE 09/02/11 BCDRG NEWSLETTER


This issue of the Blanco County Disaster Response Group newsletter includes:

1. Storm in the Gulf

2. Cooling station

3. October drought seminar

4. Other people's training


1. STORM IN THE GULF -- Tropical Depression 13 could be Tropical Storm Lee by the time you read this. It may or may not make it to hurricane strength by landfall, and it's almost certain to miss Texas entirely...but it's still likely to be the storm most intensely watched by weather people this season. Here's why.


Lee (to be presumptuous and use its name) is large but weak, and is currently being held in place by the big high we've been suffering under all summer. The weather bureau's computer tracks look like a pile of multi-colored spaghetti. Long strands indicate fast movement, too fast for much rain to accumulate; short tracks mean a slow storm which sits and dumps heavy rain on a smaller area; straight ones mean it gets free of the high's blockade and moves out on strong steering currents; wiggly ones show continued blockage and weak steering. Problem is, they don't know which it will be. Meanwhile, it's parked over the Gulf's extremely warm water, almost on top of an eddy that broke off from the Loop Current earlier this summer and makes a slowly rotating pool of even warmer water...and warm water feeds the cyclone. 


In addition to the big high, there's a low-pressure trough coming south and east over the top of the high. If Lee moves east past the high and gets caught up by the strengthening trough, it could get shot across the southeast and out into the Atlantic. If so, it may connect with Katia (it's called the Fujiwhara effect), slinging Katia northwest into the eastern seaboard where the ground already is saturated from Irene. Or it might not be caught by the trough at all, in which case Lee could just wander slowly east with heavy rains across the southern states. 


There are lots of variables in there...too many for good forecasting...and its unpredictability makes it fascinating for the weatherfolk but frustrating for people needing reliability. Only certainties are south Louisiana will get a lot of rain this weekend (Lee's rains are already onshore, but the eye may hover offshore through the weekend). The other certainty is we're not getting any of it.


Because of the expected flooding in Louisiana and the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Irene, the American Red Cross and other agencies need all the manpower they can muster. If you're a trained member of the Red Cross or any other organization, please make yourself available for deployment and let them know you're ready.


2. COOLING STATION -- We've recovered from the three-day, triple-digit marathon at the rodeo. The gear is cleaned (mostly) and the supplies are replenished (mostly). We're ready to go again and hoping to stay home. Local firefighters are being called out frequently, but so far they've turned out to be minor fires, not like the 6,600-acre booger burning near Possum Kingdom in north Texas. As I write this, I've been listening to the VFDs fighting a small but hard-to-reach widlfire along the Pedernales, east of JC, with ground-troops and airborne water-drops, but they just can't seem to get it to stop. Considering that Blanco County is in the high or very high fire danger zone, we are hoping they all remain small, but we know the VFDs are prepared for worse, and we're prepared to help.


3. OCTOBER DROUGHT SEMINAR -- Save Saturday, October 15, on your calendar. That's the day we'll present a series of speakers on "Living with Drought". Folks who think we're just having a bad summer and it'll get back to normal when the seasons change are in for a shock. The climatologists tell us they don't see a change in the next year. That means we're going to be a lot drier for a lot longer, and we need to be ready to live with it. Speakers will cover the nature of the drought and expected length, then its effects on our health, homes, landscapes, gardens, livestock, pets, wildlife, water supplies, fire danger and more. Some speaker invitations are already out. Suggestions welcome. More details in the October newsletter.


4. OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING -- which you're welcome to attend. Free unless otherwise indicated.


The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter) courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville. To register for a class, call 830-792-4677.


9/6 6-10:30 Adult CPR/AED (charge)

9/10 9-3 Client Casework: Providing Emergency Assistance -- how caseworkers open files and manage the paperwork to get assistance for folks who need it quickly. (in Sonora)

9/10 8-6 Adult, Child, Infant CPR/AED/First Aid (charge)

9/13 9-12:30 Disaster Services: An Overview -- how the Red Cross responds to disasters and how you can fit into the program.

9/13 6-8 New Volunteer Orientation -- what every new ARC volunteer needs to know about the chapter and how it works.

9/15 6-10:30 Adult Child/Infant CPR/AED (charge)

9/17 9-12:30 Disaster Services: An Overview -- how the Red Cross responds to disasters and how you can fit into the program. (in Fredericksburg)

9/24 9-3 Client Casework: Providing Emergency Assistance -- how caseworkers open files and manage the paperwork to get assistance for folks who need it quickly. (in Mason)


ARC Centex Chapter in Austin trains at its Chapter House at at 2218 Pershing Drive. To register for a class, call Stephanie Cosmas at 512-929-1294 or email  scosmas@centex.redcross.org.


9/7 6-9:30 Disaster Services: An Overview -- how the Red Cross responds to disasters and how you can fit into the program.

9/10 9-5 Foundations of Disaster Mental Health -- interactive discussions and group activities to learn how to be part of a disaster mental health team.

9/17 8:30-12:30 Fundamentals of Disaster Assessment -- how to quickly assess the nature and scope of a disaster so the right relief can be sent in quickly.

9/20 6-9 DAT Workshop -- how Disaster Assistance Teams provide quick help to people in "small" disasters, such as housefires.

9/24 9-4:30 Fundamentals of Disaster Public Affairs: Local Response -- how to tell the ARC response story through the news (and other) media in a disaster.



ARC San Antonio Chapter trains at its Chapter House at 3642 East Houston Street. To register, call 210-224-5151 or go to  http://www.saredcross.org/.


9/10 9-5 ERVs: Ready, Set, Roll -- What those ambulance-looking Red Cross trucks do and how to do it,from hauling supplies to feeding hungry folks.

9/23 9-12 Disaster Services: An Overview -- how the Red Cross responds to disasters and how you can fit into the program.

9/23 1-3 Weapons of Mass Destruction/Terrorism: An Overview -- What bad guys do, how they do it, why, and how to prevent and respond to it.

9/24 9-3 Client Casework: Providing Emergency Assistance -- how caseworkers open files and manage the paperwork to get assistance for folks who need it quickly.

9/24 9-12 Disaster Assessment Basics -- how to do the initial scan of a disaster area to help gauge the extent and severity of damage, and the resources needed for the response.

9/24 1-5 Fundamentals of Disaster Assessment -- extension of the morning course; more detailed disaster damage assessment.


You can take a course on Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, Housing and Human Services through your computer, whenever you like, even in your pajamas. You'll learn what aid is available through state and local governments and the kinds of relationships between the federal government and non-governmental response agencies. It's free. Go to  http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/IS806.asp and follow directions.


The basic values don't change for people who do disaster casework -- handling the paperwork to get survivors the aid they need -- but the details of how they do it constantly change. Church World Service, which is one of the leading trainers of case workers nationwide, will do a short webinar on how the long-term recovery process is changing. It's from 1 to 2:30 pm Tuesday, 9/6. It's free, but they recommend you register in advance. Go to  http://www.cwserp.org/ and you can download 


Parents will risk their own lives to help their children in an emergency, but it makes more sense to prepare the kids before an emergency happens. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's FEMAKids program offers a free webinar on how to do that 9/6 at 1 pm. It was originally scheduled for 8/23, but got moved because FEMA...um...had a disaster (the DC earthquake). Go to https://connect.hsin.gov/backtoschool/?launcher=false about 10 minutes ahead and check in as a guest.


If the drought is an example of global warming, what do the cold winters show? Such questions and more are in a comprehensive Pew Research report whose parts are available on line, beginning at  http://www.pewclimate.org/science-impacts/extreme-weather. Most is written for the reasonably well-educated common person. The answer to the question above is that global warming makes weather extremes more common, not that it directly causes any given drought or ice storm. Besides, the drought may be severe here, but not everyone suffers from it; we have only to look at residents near the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to see the opposite result.


Last summer (that was December and January in Australia) there were catastrophic floods in Queensland which caught everyone by surprise, killed 35 people and did $5 billion worth of damage. Now a commission of inquiry has released its interim report on what went wrong and how to fix it. The report at http://www.floodcommission.qld.gov.au/publications/interim-report?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=63259cf10b-DR_5718_12_2011&utm_medium=email includes more than 100 issues and recommendations. Examples: The coordinating committee couldn't take charge because members were cut off by high water. The floods took out the power to the command center. Distribution of relief supplies was blocked by washed out roads. Raises a lot of "what-if" questions for us, too.


How do we communicate emergency information to communities speaking little English? The Minnesota Department of Health held a webinar on the topic in June, and recorded it for you to view at your convenience, free, from your home computer. Takes about an hour and 15 minutes. The start page also lets you download slides from the webinar, a guide for creating your own limited-English communication plan, and a template for one. It's at http://www.echominnesota.org/webinar-communicating-without-english?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=1a3caf88dd-DR_5728_26_2011&utm_medium=email.


A vulnerable population is a group which needs additional help during and after a disaster. You become part of a vulnerable population if you use a wheelchair, or lose your glasses, or are a 7-year-old separated from your family, or don't speak much English, or...lots of other things. Such people are always there and are more numerous than many planners assume. To help work them into disaster planning, the City of Seattle and King County have an on-line toolkit for planners. It's health-focused, but the principles apply to all plans. Start at  http://www.apctoolkits.com/vulnerablepopulation/?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=1a3caf88dd-DR_5728_26_2011&utm_medium=email start including the excluded.


Got some bad stuff on you? All over you? All over the neighborhood? CHEMM can help you figure out what it is, what it is doing to you, and what you should be doing about it. CHEMM is the Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management website developed by the US Dept of Health & Human Services to help first responders deal with chemical emergencies. The good news is, you get to use it, too. The site doesn't leave many chemical-related questions unanswered, and provides links to other emergency websites to make sure all bases (and acids) are covered (that's a joke, for those who cut high school chem lab that day). You'll find CHEMM at  http://chemm.nlm.nih.gov/index.html?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=1a3caf88dd-DR_5728_26_2011&utm_medium=email.



Ideas, suggestions, comments . . . see our website, www.blancocountydisasterresponsegroup.org,
or contact me at: George Barnette, Res: 830-868-0808, Cell: 713-252-2288, george@bnpr.com



FROM THE 07/01/11 BCDRG NEWSLETTER


This issue of the Blanco County Disaster Response Group newsletter includes:

1. Joplin EF-5 tornado

2. Class re-scheduled

3. Rehab tent

4. Email list revision

5. Other People's Training 

Arlene, the first named storm of the Gulf season, has disappeared into the interior of Mexico...off the weather maps...nothing for us to be concerned about. We should remember that last year, the first of the season -- Alex -- crossed the northern Mexican coast and vanished from the weather maps, but not from reality. It turned north, camped in northern Coahuila, and dumped prodigious rains which flooded both sides of the Rio Grande for the rest of the summer. While Arlene is unlikely to do that, it's a reminder that taking our eye off the ball is always risky this time of year.

1. JOPLIN EF-5 TORNADO -- In June I was asked by the United Methodist Church's South Central Jurisdiction (which covers eight states and part of a ninth) to go to Joplin to help the church's Missouri Conference establish a system to manage the flow of Methodist volunteers who wanted to help survivors of the EF-5 tornado. As is usual after a disaster like that, the purpose was to draw order out of the chaos. Local authorities estimated there were more than 30,000 volunteers in Joplin the week following the storm...some with organized response agencies, like the American Red Cross, but most just there...with little thought to where they will sleep, how they will eat, or what they will do. Just pitching in actually can make things worse for the survivor, not better. The third week following the tornado, we developed the system to fit local needs and steered outside volunteers into it. The fourth week, we tweaked the system and smoothed out the kinks. When I left, it was set to run for the next year or two -- and will be needed for that long.

This was not a case of me telling them how to do it. They'll be living with the system long after I'm back in Blanco County, so it had to fit them, their needs and their resources. And they already knew how to set up a volunteer management system anyway. I advised, suggested, mentioned things I'd seen work elsewhere, and then helped execute the plan they settled on. And got out of their way.

Some of my ideas were helpful, but the best part was I picked up as many ideas as I left behind. The folks in Missouri had some practices that can work in other places and situations, and some of the ideas we developed for this time will be good to use in the future. That library of ideas about what works and what doesn't will be especially valuable when we eventually need it here at home.

The Methodist church in JC tells me they want to do a fundraiser for Joplin August 3rd, with my pictures and stories and all the details. You'll be welcome.

2. CLASS RE-SCHEDULED -- The class on recognizing mental health issues in people and separating those who are threats from those who are merely quirky has been moved off to August. Date to come.

3. REHAB TENT -- We finally got all the parts and figured out how to put them together just in time to put it on the shelf for the month of June (see #1 above). It's going to require a little practice to use it...mostly fiddling with it to learn how it sets up and comes down, and how to maintain the misting fan.

In the next few days we'll let the Texas Forest Service know it's ready for wildfire duty, and we'll schedule presentations to local fire departments so they'll know the resource is available to them, too. We'll also do a training session or two for our own folks -- an hour ought to cover it -- so you can help on the big fires and other hot-weather outdoor events. Interested in working on this? Respond to this email to get on the list.

4. EMAIL LIST REVISIONS -- Some folks are seeing this newsletter for the first time. I've been keeping multiple email lists, one for disaster volunteers, one for the Food Pantry, one for wheelchair ramps, etc. They overlap but aren't quite the same. So now everything's going on one list, with notices going out more frequently, and everyone will know about all the volunteer opportunities, and the community's projects and agencies can reach a broader group of potential helpers. One big list, but with one exception: if you really don't want to get this disaster newsletter, email me back and I'll take you off the disaster list. You'll still get everything else. If you don't want any of it, of course, email me with that information, too, and I'll drop you off. 

5. OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING (which you're welcome to attend) -- Free unless otherwise indicated.

The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter). Courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville, and are free, unless otherwise noted. To register, call 830-792-4677. 

7/5 6-10:30 -- Adult CPR/AED ($30)

7/9 8-6 -- Adult/Child/Infant CPR/AED/First Aid ($50)

7/9 8-4 -- Disaster Frontline Supervisor class and simulation. 

7/12 6-8 -- New Volunteer Orientation. Where you fit into the Hill Country Chapter.

7/13 9-1 -- Fundamentals of Disaster Assessment. How to make the initial damage estimates in a disaster area which tell the ARC and others what kind of resources and how much are likely to be needed.

7/16 9-12:30 -- Disaster Services Overview. What the ARC does in a disaster, how it does it, and where you can play a role. Basic training for all disaster services specialties. Class will be in Johnson City.

7/21 9-3 -- Adult Child Infant CPR/AED ($40)

7/23 8-1 -- Health Services Response Workshop. 

7/27 1-5 -- Adult/Child/Infant CPR/AED/First Aid Review ($45)

7/28-29 9-6 -- First Aid/CPR/AED instructor training (two-day course) ($110)

ARC Centex Chapter -- All training is at the Austin ARC chapter house at 2218 Pershing Drive unless noted. To register, call Stephanie Cosmas at 512-929-1294 or email  scosmas@centex.redcross.org .

The Central Texas Chapter website lists no training in July or thereafter, but I'm guessing that's a computer problem and the schedule will surface eventually.

ARC San Antonio Chapter --All training is at the SA ARC chapter at 3642 E. Houston St. unless noted. To register, call 210-224-5151 or go to  http://www.saredcross.org/ .

7/8 6-8 -- Disaster Action Team (DAT) Orientation. How to deliver emergency aid to people in local incidents, such as housefires.

7/8 9-3 -- ERVs: Ready, Set, Roll. What those ambulance-looking Red Cross vehicles are used for and how to make them do it.

7/9 9-3 -- Financial and Statistical Information Management. Somebody's got to count the beans and draw information out of the numbers. This course tells you how.

7/9 9-12 -- Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for all disaster volunteers.

7/16 9-4 -- Disaster Frontline Supervisor. How to manage part of a disaster response.

7/22 9-5 -- Collaborating to Ensure Effective Service Delivery. How to work with other organizations to improve services to both groups' clients. 

7/23 9-9 -- Collaborating to Ensure Effective Service Delivery. How to work with other organizations to improve services to both groups' clients. I'm betting this is actually 9-5, like the preceding day, not a 12-hour class.

7/29 9-5 -- Client Casework: Providing Emergency Assistance. How to open a case file and do the paperwork to begin providing people in need with the assistance they require. A skill much in demand in any disaster, and may lead to a paying job as casework shifts from ARC volunteers to longer-term staff.

7/30 9-3 -- Logistics Overview and Simulation. How to get disaster supplies from here to there correctly and promptly.

It's a freebie, but you have to go to Dallas to get it. The University of Illinois' Center for Public Safety and Justice is teaching a DHS/FEMA course and exercise on "Household Pets and Service Animals in Disasters: An Introduction to Evacuation and Emergency Sheltering" at the Arlington Fire Training Center, 5501 Ron McAndrew Dr, Arlington at 8:30 am July 12. Lunch is provided, also free. You'll be out by 4:30. Space is limited to the first 40 who sign up with Charlene Moe at UI at  cedmi1@uis.edu .

The Texas Division of Emergency Management has one seat left in its three-day "Donations Management" course  in Austin at the DPS Training Academy, 5805 N Lamar, Bldg C, Classroom C/D, July 19-21. Unsolicited donations from good-hearted people turn into a second disaster, as I witnessed in Joplin. People wanting to donate used clothing were turned away, so they dumped their bags on a parking lot, which quickly turned into a trash heap and then, after a rain and mildew, a health hazard. But how do you channel generosity so it helps the survivors? Partnership with the Seventh-day Adventists was our way of handling used clothing, and it would work after a disaster, too. To claim the last empty chair in the room, go to  https://www.preparingtexas.org/ViewCourse.aspx?courseid=644ed55f-4d8f-4b2a-b116-4c03ad6b21d4 , create an account (it's free, too) and sign up.

There's a two-day course July 7 and 8 in "Emergency Planning for Special Needs Communities" at the San Antonio Office of Emergency Management (that's SA's Emergency Operations Center) at Brooks City-Base. It's free but there are pre-requisites. Start at  https://www.preparingtexas.org/DeliveryDetails.aspx?classid=ddebd87f-84f2-4bda-96a0-d09ff75665f6 and create an account (free) and register. There are 23 seats left in the class at this writing.

The chances you'll need this specific application are slim, but the principles are widely applicable. It's an online course in cross-cultural communication, using flood warnings to a migrant worker community as the example. It's a collection of case studies that offers ten techniques for getting emergency information across to people with a different language and culture...a common need in disaster response. Only takes about an hour. Go to  http://www.nynj-phtc.org/pages/catalog/cc2-flood/ and click the "Enroll" button.

Another course you can take in your pajamas is from FEMA, "Developing and Managing Volunteers". That would have helped some of our folks in Joplin. In addition to the obvious topics, it also covers the issues of spontaneous volunteers and who's liable when somebody gets hurt. It's free but you have to register. Go to  http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/is244a.asp and follow directions. Hint: it's fair to download the final exam questions before you take the course, then check the answers as you go along. Honest.

Case management -- the job of opening files for survivors of disaster and helping them get the aid they need -- is a desperately needed specialty after an incident. People with training (the American Red Cross offers a one-day course) can start helping as soon as the office opens. If you're willing to stay with it, those volunteer jobs turn into paying jobs once the emergency turns into longer-term recovery. If you think you might be interested, find out what it's about by taking the short (about an hour) overview course from Community Arise (its free) at  http://www.communityarise.com/online.htm .

Well, this is cool! Go to  http://www.geomac.gov/viewer/viewer.shtml for an interactive map showing where the current major wildfires are burning in the US. Keep double-clicking on one and it will take you progressively closer in aerial photography until you can see cars on the roads (not live pictures, obviously). There's other data about the fires, as well. Or just hunt up the view of your house from space, courtesy of the US Depts of the Interior and Agriculture through their Geospatial Multi-Agency Coordination Group. 



Ideas, suggestions, comments . . . see our website, www.blancocountydisasterresponsegroup.org,
or contact me at: George Barnette, Res: 830-868-0808, Cell: 713-252-2288, george@bnpr.com



FROM THE 06/03/11 BCDRG NEWSLETTER


1. June inactivity

2. Class re-scheduled

3. Clothing drive

4. Rehab tent

5. Johnson City plan, VOAD, LTRC, etc

6. Other People's Training 

This is supposed to be the quiet month where people start getting ready for the activity that may come with hurricane season, although we don't usually expect it to get busy until August. Ha! There's already a little blip in the Gulf, expected to go into Mexico Saturday, and one brewing in the Caribbean, and this is only the third day of the season. Plus the horrible year for wildfires here in Texas. Plus the record tornado season the country has been going through this spring. Plus the flooding still going on and now starting anew in the upper plains. 

1. JUNE INACTIVITY -- All our plans for June have gone away...I'm spending the month in Joplin, Mo, managing tornado relief volunteers for the United Methodist Church. As is common, there is not enough housing for the displaced residents, so we incoming folks either drive more than an hour to a motel room or semi-camp in town. I get posh executive quarters: air-mattress space in the corner of a Sunday School classroom, rather than a corner of a church gym with the hoi polloi. Done that, too, and can tell you there's not a lot of difference. Be back late June. Take care of things in my absence.

2. CLASS RE-SCHEDULED -- The class on recognizing mental health issues in people and separating those who are threats from those who are merely quirky has been moved off to July (at least). See #1 above.

3. CLOTHING DRIVE -- Wowser! The area used-clothing gurus at the Seventh-day Adventist Church had expected to haul our Blanco County collection to their warehouse in a pickup truck, and had said that for a first time campaign, we shouldn't feel bad if we didn't fill it. We had more than enough for a pickup truck before we opened the doors, and by the end, they were calling the warehouse for a big truck. They said we collected almost as much as the spring drive they did in San Antonio! What did it? Good support from the newspapers, good participation from some of the churches in the county, and especially help from our volunteers staffing the collection point through the three-day holiday weekend. Those folks just didn't know Blanco County.

4. REHAB TENT -- It's here and ready to go to work...just in time to go on the shelf for the month of June (see #1 above). It's going to require a little practice to use it...mostly fiddling with it to learn how it sets up and comes down, and how to maintain the misting fan. But I didn't have time to do that (I was still learning it myself) before hitting the road, so it'll be July before it's ready...just in time to cool off the heat sufferers at the 4th of July Spange-Dangle.

In July we'll schedule presentations to local fire departments so they'll know the resource available to them for wildfires and such. The Texas Forest Service, which manages the big grassfires for the state, already has us in their computer database of firefighting resources. We'll also do a training session or two -- an hour ought to cover it -- so you can help on the big fires and other hot-weather outdoor events. Interested in working on this? Let me know.

5. JOHNSON CITY PLAN, VOAD, LTRC, ETC -- It's all still cooking, although it's on a back burner this month (see #1 above). Be back on it all in July.

6. OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING (which you're welcome to attend) -- Free unless otherwise indicated.

The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter). Courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville, and are free, unless otherwise noted. To register, call 830-792-4677. 

6/7 9-5 -- ERV - Ready, Set, Roll. This is the class that teaches you how to run the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV), the big ambulance-looking truck that feeds people, hauls supplies, and generally is a disaster response workhorse.

6/11 9-12:30 -- Disaster Services Overview. What the ARC does in a disaster, how it does it, and where you can play a role. Basic training for all disaster services specialties. Class will be in Mason.

6/14 9-4 -- Adult CPR/AED ($30)

6/16 9-3 -- Adult Child Infant CPR/AED ($40)

6/16 8-5 -- Mass Care II, Part 1. Advanced mass care; the first half of a two-day course.

6/17 8-5 -- Mass Care II, Part 2. Advanced mass care; the second half of a two-day course.

6/18 9-1 -- Fundamentals of Disaster Assessment. How to make the initial damage estimates in a disaster area which tell the ARC and others what kind of resources and how much are likely to be needed. Class is in Sonora.

6/24 9-12:30 -- Weapons of Mass Destruction/Terrorism. We don't think much about WMDs and terrorism out here in the sparsely populated boonies, but we'd be right in line for the fallout from a dirty bomb in Austin or San Antonio, and could receive evacuees from as far as Houston from an incident there. This class covers what's likely, what's possible, what to expect.

ARC Centex Chapter -- All training is at the Austin ARC chapter house at 2218 Pershing Drive unless noted. To register, call Stephanie Cosmas at 512-929-1294 or email  scosmas@centex.redcross.org .

6/2 6-9:30 -- Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for all ARC disaster volunteers.

6/4 9-5 -- Logistics Overview and Simulation. How to help the ARC get the right disaster relief supplies to the right place at the right time.

6/11 8:30-12 -- Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for all ARC disaster volunteers.

6/16 6-9 -- Disaster Assistance Team (DAT) workshop. How to deliver emergency aid to people in local incidents, such as housefires.

The Austin Chapter's Mass Care Bootcamp is the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, June 25-26, with basic training in lots of sheltering, feeding, and other evacuee assistance skills. It's free, of course, and you don't have to be a Red Cross volunteer to take the classes. They'll work you to death but at the end you'll be ready to help the Centex or any other chapter. More information at 512-929-1242 or email jdominguez@centex.redcross.org .

ARC San Antonio Chapter --All training is at the SA ARC chapter at 3642 E. Houston St. unless noted. To register, call 210-224-5151 or go to  http://www.saredcross.org/ .

6/10 9-5 -- Client Casework: Providing Emergency Assistance. How to open a case file and do the paperwork to begin providing people in need with the assistance they require. A skill much in demand in any disaster, and may lead to a paying job as casework shifts from ARC volunteers to longer-term staff.

6/14 6-8 -- Disaster Assistance Team (DAT) Orientation. How to deliver emergency aid to people in local incidents, such as housefires.

6/18 1-4 -- Disaster Assessment Basics. One of the ARC's jobs after a disaster is to do an initial assessment of the damage...how bad and where...so response planners can send the right resources to the right places. This is Part 1.

6/18 9-5 -- Shelter Operations. How the ARC opens, operates and closes emergency shelters, and all the different jobs volunteers fill during the process.

The Panhandle Regional emergency Preparedness Conference invites you to a free two-day series of short courses on such topics as mass casualties, mass fatalities, state and federal aid for local government, and donations management. It's 8-5:30 Thursday and Friday, June 9-10, in the Amarillo Civic Center. Register at www.actx.edu/cj but don't dawdle; registration is limited for this free event.

The National Hurricane Conference -- which actually covers all kinds of disasters -- has posted the PowerPoint slide sets from all the April conference presentations on line. It's not the same as being there, of course, and not every speaker used PPT, but its better than not getting any of the information. To see what the session topics and presenters were, check the schedule at http://www.hurricanemeeting.com/Documents/2011%20NHC%20Sessions.pdf , then go to the individual slide sets at  http://www.hurricanemeeting.com/Documents/Speaker%20Presentations/2011%20NHC%20Prgm%20w%20Links%20to%20Spkr%20Presentations.pdf

Texas firefighters already have fought more than 10,000 fires since the wildfire season began 11/15, and it isn't over. In winter and spring, wildfires tend to be driven by strong winds accompanying fronts, so they move fast but wind forecasts can tell firefighters where the fire is likely to go. In the summer, the winds die down but the heat and dryness make the grass and brush more explosive, so the spread is sporadic and harder to predict. Here are some online resources for folks concerned about (or just interested in) wildfires:

-- National Fire Prevention Association: Firewise website shows how to protect your rural home against wildfire.

-- Texas Department of Insurance, Texas Fire Marshal: fire safety news and information, including arson and wildfires.  http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/fire/index.html

-- Texas Department of Public Safety wildfire awareness: documents, videos and links to more.  http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem/pages/pio_wildfire_awareness.htm

-- Texas Forest Service wildfire page: reducing risk, fighting wildfires and urban wildfire interface.  http://txforestservice.tamu.edu/main/article.aspx?id=2010

-- International Association for Wildland Fire: news, information about wildfire prevention and fighting worldwide.  http://wildfireworld.org/?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=3825ae1059-DR_567&utm_medium=email

-- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: health information on wildfires, including smoke inhalation

http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/wildfires/?s_cid=ccu050911_012

How to Prepare for a Zombie Attack: it's common enough to be a yawner for organizations to post "what-to-do-if" information on line for one kind of disaster or another, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a new approach. Actually, the advice is generic disaster-preparedness stuff, with enough zombie-specific material to make it interesting. It's actually fun...as government agency web postings go...and even made a bit of a splash in the media. Find it at http://emergency.cdc.gov/socialmedia/zombies_blog.asp? (Where else do you get this kind of vital information?)

Flood Manager game -- an online computer game that lets you be the city floodplain manager, deciding what to build where, and showing you how your decisions work out when the water rises. Free, but you have to register.

http://www.floodmanager.org/game/?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=3825ae1059-DR_567&utm_medium=email

Sending a kid off to college in the fall? The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting is the US Department of Education's guide that tells the schools how they are supposed to record and report safety and security issues. This will tell you what information you should be getting from the school, and how to get it if you don't. http://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/handbook-2.pdf?utm_source=NHC+Master+List&utm_campaign=3825ae1059-DR_567&utm_medium=email

We're cycling out of this area's usual hail season -- another hazard we enjoy here. The Illinois State Water Survey has published everything you want to know about hail (and then some). The report (almost 100 pages) covers the whole country and is free to download at  http://www.isws.illinois.edu/pubdoc/CR/ISWSCR2009-12.pdf .

"What You Need to Know About Infectious Diseases" from the National Academies is a short book that'll keep you awake at night, so don't put it on the bedside table. On the other hand, it does have valuable information written for the layman, starting with how infection works, and it is free for online reading or downloading at  http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13006 . Entertain your friends with the new strains of ebola hemorrhagic fever, the growing threat of dengue fever in Texas, and why yellow fever isn't far behind. 

This isn't disaster-related, but it's a good volunteer opportunity. Trinity Lutheran Church in Stonewall is collecting homemade cookies to be sent to our combat troops in Afghanistan. They'd like to send several van loads of cookies from Johnson City to our combat troops for the 4th of July to let them know that we do appreciate the sacrifices they are making for us. Chocolate Chip cookies packaged in zip lock bags are desired. They can be frozen if you would like to start baking now. The cookies are needed by June 20, 2011.  Betty and Jerry Charniak will be at the Food Pantry (The tin warehouse behind the Courthouse Annex) on June 20, 2011 from 10:00 AM until 1:00 PM to accept cookies for our combat troops. The cookies then go to the church in Stonewall, then to San Antonio where the Air Force will package them for shipment and get them to Afghanistan in time for the 4th of July.



Ideas, suggestions, comments . . . see our website, www.blancocountydisasterresponsegroup.org,
or contact me at: George Barnette, Res: 830-868-0808, Cell: 713-252-2288, george@bnpr.com



FROM THE 05/03/11 BCDRG NEWSLETTER

This issue of the Blanco County Disaster Response Group newsletter includes:


1. Japan relief

2. Class semi-scheduled

3. Clothing drive

4. VOAD, LTRC, etc

5. Johnson City plan

6. Rehab tent

7. Social media

8. Other People's Training 


(Lots of news and activity this month!)


1. JAPAN RELIEF -- We led the field out of the starting blocks raising money for survivors of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan. Unfortunately, the race was a marathon, and our sprint speed hasn't held up in the long haul. Still, we're doing respectably, raising about $5,000 so far, with more work yet to go.


One thing I learned (again) was that not all my great ideas are all that great. I thought auctioning off the Japanese "Hope" t-shirt over the internet would be a terrific idea. That opinion was not shared unanimously. It went for less than I had expected, but every buck counts, so other than my wounded ego, it was all for the good.


2. CLASS SEMI-SCHEDULED -- The class on recognizing mental health issues in people and separating those who are threats from those who are merely quirky will happen in June. After a lot of turn-downs (that's not a standard course, that's potentially controversial) we re-connected with Jeanette DaVolt, the clinical psychologist from San Antonio who did the terrific course for us last summer on helping the mentally disabled in a disaster. She agreed the course would be beneficial and said she would come up to Blanco County in June (date, time, location to be determined) and do it for us. She'll cover early warning signs of mental illnesses, when a person becomes a threat to himself or others, and what intervention steps are open to the rest of us (not many). Good course for more than just disaster shelter workers.


3. CLOTHING DRIVE -- Need your help on this one. We're doing a disaster used-clothing drive in conjunction with the Seventh-Day Adventists and local churches and other organizations. We'll collect donated used clothing at the First United Methodist Church in Johnson City Saturday from 9-5, Sunday 1-5 and again Memorial Day Monday from 9-5. We'll do a rough sort, but it is the Adventists who are the international experts are handling used clothes for disaster relief. They'll do the detailed sort and screening, sanitize the clothing, and store it until it is needed, then deliver it wherever that need may be. We'll need volunteers, of course, for light work (suitable for children, too) each of the three days. PLEASE EMAIL BACK your availability to help during the weekend for the schedule; otherwise I'll have to nag.


4. VOAD, LTRC, ETC -- Our plan to set up a new organization for Blanco County is moving forward. It will be a VOAD, which is disaster-speak for Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters, an umbrella group that opens channels of communication and cooperation between non-profits, government agencies, and businesses that would help in disasters. Knee-deep water is no place to exchange business cards, so we'll do our meeting and greeting in advance and figure out ways we can work together to enhance everyone's success. 


One thing the VOAD will do is establish a Long-Term Recovery Committee (LTRC) which will immediately go on the shelf and remain dormant until needed. After a disaster, much of the aid that flows to individuals passes not through government but LTRCs. Many donors won't give to a community's recovery unless an LTRC is established. Since few communities have LTRCs in advance, they lose weeks or months discovering the need and organizing an LTRC while their residents are doing without the available aid. Having the LTRC ready to go means when the flood or tornado or ice storm visits Blanco County, we can begin channeling assistance to survivors week earlier.


Another thing the VOAD is good for is to become the parent entity for our existing Blanco County Disaster Response Group. We're OK as we are, clasped to the bosom of the First United Methodist Church in JC, which provides tax-deductibility for donations and keeps our bank account for us, but we need to grow up and go out on our own now. Like the post-adolescent ready to leave the nest, mother church is as ready for us to fly on our own as we are. No rush, but it'll happen.


5. JOHNSON CITY PLAN -- We've been asked to draft an operational disaster plan for the City of Johnson City. I've met with the mayor and city administrator, and have made a good start. The official city disaster plan is prepared by the county Emergency Management Coordinator, but the city recognizes that it needs some planning not in that plan. It will remain the official plan for official purposes...we'll just add some practical, hands-on, people-helping elements to it.


One thing we've done is interest FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) in accepting Johnson City as a laboratory for small-town disaster planning. They already have a program going with several major metro demonstration cities, but no small towns, a gap they recognize and have been talking about filling. When told what we're doing here already and what we hope to do, FEMA agreed JC would be a good addition to their program. What it gets us is direct access to their planning professionals as we work on our documents, and they suggested they could even send some of their experts to JC to help us! While there's no discussion of federal dollars being applied here, that sort of close cooperation usually means they can find some if it would help us succeed, and when dollars are available they can help steer us through the process to get some. It's a real coup for JC, and will make us one of the models to be copied by similar communities nation-wide.


The Texas Department of Emergency Management already had taken an interest in our project, even before the feds came on board. TDEM has promised help from their planners and other resources to help us make JC ready to deal with disaster. Between the state and federal agencies, we'll be drinking from a fire-hose as we learn our way around the planning process, but at the end we'll all be experts.


NEED YOUR HELP ON THIS. The project has grown faster than one or two people can handle. We need folks to take pieces of the planning and help work through it. Nobody gets sent out to be a Lone Ranger...we'll work collaboratively...in part because we'll all have so much to learn as we go. PLEASE LET ME KNOW YOU'RE INTERESTED in helping with this. We'll figure out what role you're comfortable doing as we go along. For community disaster planning -- preparation, response and recovery -- this will be national cutting-edge stuff. It's a big deal.


6. REHAB TENT -- By the end of this month, the parts now on order should be in and we should have a Rehab Tent to offer to responders who need it in the Texas summer. A rehab tent is a pop-up shelter in which an overheated person can cool off before heat exhaustion or heat stroke sets in. It's good for firefighters battling a wildfire on a hot day, search and rescue teams in the boonies, or responders helping clean up the aftermath of flooded or tornado-blasted homes. Where physical exertion in the heat is an issue, the rehab tent has value. It'll be equipped with a fan-driven misting cooler to chill anyone in the tent, chairs and loungers, water and other drinks, snacks, wet towels, and other odds and ends that can help cool a hot worker and return a firefighter to the fire-line. It isn't a cheap resource, but we were able to purchase it with generous gifts from the Johnson City Lions Club, Hochheim Prairie Insurance and the First United Methodist Church of Johnson City. 


Who'll use it? We'll staff it with our volunteers, and be called out by any entity that needs us. Our local VFDs and law enforcement get first claim, but the portable rig can go wherever it's needed. We may also team up with the American Red Cross when our Hill Country Chapter's Emergency Response Vehicle is called out to support firefighters. I've talked with fire departments in several counties which have had wildfires this spring, and they unanimously endorse it. Bob Koenig, State Incident Management Team Coordinator for the Texas Forest Service (the state's lead wildfire manager), said it will be a unique and valuable asset to have in the TFS database of firefighting resources, and predicted we'd get a workout every wildfire season...as far from Blanco County as we're willing to go.


We'll need to do a little training on this to figure out how to set it up and keep it operating, but most of the work will be handing out drinks and towels to sweaty folks. We can use our own JC 4th-of-July Spange-Dangle and rodeo events to test it on civilians, assuming we don't find ourselves in the real action before then. 


Interested in helping on this? Let me know.


7. SOCIAL MEDIA -- If you're like me, you remember FaceBook and Twitter as they once were: major time-wasters; people with nothing to do exchanging the trivia of their lives with other bored people. Surprise! Social media have grown up, and while there's still a lot of time wasted on them, they've become valuable tools for organizations, especially in disasters. In last week's Oasis fire near Junction, a FaceBook page was the main way Kimble County residents kept up with the news and found ways to help. Later this summer, we'll join the wave by adding the instant, two-way communication media to our toolkit. It will make us more effective and give more people more chances to participate in short-notice events. Details to come later. Just a heads-up.


8. OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING (which you're welcome to attend) -- Free unless otherwise indicated.


The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter). Courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville, and are free, unless otherwise noted. To register, call 830-792-4677. 


5/3 6-10:30 -- CPR/AED adult ($30)

5/5 6-9:30 -- First Aid ($25)

5/7 9-3 -- Client Casework: Providing Emergency Assistance. Appropriately taking the training to where the wildfire damage is, this class is out in Junction. How to open cases do the paperwork that allows emergency aid to flow to people who need it, from local house-fires up to major disasters.

5/10 9-12:30 -- Disaster Services: An Overview. How the ARC provides services in disasters, and the different jobs volunteers may prepare for. Taught in Fredericksburg.

5/10 6-8 -- New Volunteer Orientation. What the Hill Country Chapter does and how it does it; where a new volunteer  fits in and how to prepare for the job you want.

5/14 9-3 -- Client Casework: Providing Emergency Assistance. How to open cases do the paperwork that allows emergency aid to flow to people who need it, from local house-fires up to major disasters. This class will be in Sonora.

5/14 8-6 -- Adult Child Infant CPR/AED/First Aid ($50)

5/19 9-3 -- Adult Child Infant CPR/AED ($40)

5/21 9-1 -- Fundamentals of Damage Assessment. One of the ARC's jobs after a disaster is to do an initial assessment of the damage...how bad and where...so response planners can send the right resources to the right places. This class, taught in Junction, shows how that happens.


ARC Centex Chapter -- All training is at the Austin ARC chapter house at 2218 Pershing Drive unless noted. To register, call Stephanie Cosmas at 512-929-1294 or email  scosmas@centex.redcross.org .


5/3 6-9:30 -- Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for all ARC disaster volunteers.

5/14-15 8:30-5 -- Mass Care II. Advanced training in providing mass care to survivors after disasters.

5/21 8:30-12 -- Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for all ARC disaster volunteers.

5/21 1-4:30 -- Disaster Assistance Team (DAT) workshop. How to deliver emergency aid to people in local incidents, such as housefires.


ARC San Antonio Chapter --All training is at the SA ARC chapter at 3642 E. Houston St. unless noted. To register, call 210-224-5151 or go to  http://www.saredcross.org/ .


5/7 9-12 -- Bulk Distribution Operations. San Antonio Chapter is the supply center for shelters and distribution centers in this part of Texas. This course teaches volunteers how to help get the right supplies to the right places on time in the midst of chaos.

5/9 6-10 -- Psychological First Aid. Good course to add to Spiritual and Emotional Care, NOVA or CISM. Focuses on recognizing stress in survivors and co-workers, and ways to relieve it. 

5/20 9-12 -- Disaster Assessment Basics. One of the ARC's jobs after a disaster is to do an initial assessment of the damage...how bad and where...so response planners can send the right resources to the right places. This is Part 1.

5/20 1-5 -- Fundamentals of Damage Assessment. One of the ARC's jobs after a disaster is to do an initial assessment of the damage...how bad and where...so response planners can send the right resources to the right places. This is Part 2.

5/21 9-3 -- Serving People with Disabilities Following a Disaster. This is the excellent course Jeanette DaVolt did for us last summer. I focuses on how to recognize people with mental health issues in disasters, and what to do about them.


The San Antonio Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (SAVOAD) is offering the short introductory version of the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) training course, which is required for spiritual and emotional counseling in San Antonio evacuee shelters; not even ordained ministers can go in without NOVA training. The short course (4 hours) will be offered from 1 to 5 pm Thursday, May 19, at the Emergency Operation Center at Brooks City-Base, on the south side. Free. For information or to sign up, contact Jeanne Goodlin, 210-733-9159,  sacommchurches@sbcglobal.net , or Dan Franklin, 210-662-7372,  dan.franklin@texasbaptists.org .


We mentioned the future local Long Term Recovery Committee for Blanco County, and how it will speed the flow of assistance to us after a disaster. How does that work and how does it do it? Funny you should ask. Church World Service (which helps local communities set up LTRCs) has two days of short webinars on exactly that subject. They're on 5/3 and 5/4, six sessions of 50 minutes each, from 12-3 each day, and you can attend from home at your own computer. Register for the free webinar and download course materials at  www.cwserp.org .


A free online weather program (still in beta testing) uses information from thousands of weather reporting stations to gather data and sort it into reports, charts or tables to answer your weather questions. Compare weather in two cities of your choice, see graphs of forecasts in three cities, get details on forecasts for your Mediterranean cruise. It's called WeatherSpark, and it's at http://weatherspark.com .


Blanco County is animal country, both wild and domesticated, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is concerned that critters can pass unpleasant diseases to us. Think rabies, leprosy or Lyme disease, for example. The CDC held a conference call with doctors and health officials not long ago on how to prevent the transfer of diseases from animals to people, and they recorded it. You can listen (it's about an hour) at  http://emergency.cdc.gov/coca/calls/2011/callinfo_042111.asp .


The CDC also has some timely guidance on avoiding injury from weather hazards. Look 'em up at  http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/tornadoes/  or  http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/wildfires/ .


Last month we told you about a coming online webinar from the American Medical Association on the medical and public health aspects of Japan's nuclear power plant meltdown. It happened. Much of it was technical...either nuclear physics or radiation medicine...but not all of it. You can catch the replay any time at http://www.ama-assn.org/go/japanwebinar .


The Oasis wildfire west of Junction, in Kimble County, is still burning as of this writing, as it has been since last Tuesday afternoon. Like JC or Blanco, Junction is served by a weekly newspaper...a poor vehicle for getting out emergency information on a rapidly changing situation like this. But the Junction Eagle has a FaceBook page, which normally carries postings of local interest. In this incident, it has been an excellent resource for people (including concerned folks out of state) to get information and for locals to contribute their own data. Find it at  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Junction-Eagle/125559754134987?closeTheater=1 and you can scroll down through the postings, all the way to the first notices last week. An impressive use of social media in a disaster in a community much like our own.


Austin PD's training academy still needs volunteer drunks. APD needs to teach cadets how to do field sobriety tests, determining who's drunk and who's merely happy, and to do that they need volunteers willing to give up their sobriety for an evening in the name of education and public safety. It'll be next month, 6/17 and 6/24 from 6-12 midnight. You'll need a designated driver to get home...the place will be crawling with cops. Sign up with Officer Jason Wolf at  jason.wolf@ci.austin.tx.us . (Who else gives you great opportunities like this?)


If you need another reason to not go to Houston, here's one: West Nile Virus. This tropical disease was first found in Uganda in 1937...a mild disease with a fever but not catastrophic. By the 1990s, it mutated into a serious encephalitic disease and broke out in North Africa, Europe, Russia, spread through the Caribbean and Central America...and turned up in New York. The good news is the NY strain has almost vanished in the US. The bad news is it was crowded out by two worse strains, both of which have turned up in the Houston area. Makes sense it would be Houston. West Nile Virus is spread by mosquitoes, and Houston is where good mosquitoes hope to go when they die. It's also turned up from New Mexico to North Dakota, but Houston seems to be where it's happiest. Strange...their chamber of commerce hasn't announced that.


New in our library of DVDs are videos on how local governments can reduce the effects of disasters, preparing your family for disasters, building safe rooms, and how to estimate substantial damage to structures. 



Ideas, suggestions, comments . . . see our website, www.blancocountydisasterresponsegroup.org,
or contact me at: George Barnette, Res: 830-868-0808, Cell: 713-252-2288, george@bnpr.com



FROM THE 4/5/11 BCDRG NEWSLETTER

This issue of the Blanco County Disaster Response Group newsletter includes:


1. Japan relief

2. Other current activity

3. Scheduled events

4. Other People's Training 


1. JAPAN RELIEF -- We moved rather quickly in response to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and the still continuing radiation problems. We already had scheduled a day to pack hygiene kits for Haiti the following weekend, at the First United Methodist Church, and switched beneficiaries to Japanese survivors. We also launched a fund-raising campaign and invited others in the county to join us. By late afternoon Friday, still less than 24 hours after the earthquake, our campaign was picked up by one of the Austin TV stations' websites. The following Monday, the station was out to interview several of those involved for a story that ran at 5, 6 and 10 that night. 


Since then, we packed the hygiene kits (107 in about 20 minutes!) and have been raising money for Japan relief. One tactic is the email auction of a commemorative t-shirt with a map of Japan and the Japanese characters for "hope". Top bid sent to auction@bnpr.com by 12 noon April 15th gets the shirt, and the Japanese survivors get the money.


An unusual approach in information-gathering on the situation in Japan has been going directly to missionaries and relief agencies there for details on on personal-level needs of the survivors how the responders are working. One approach I haven't seen here in the US has been the use of bicycles for distribution in Sendai City when gasoline was too scarce to allow the use of trucks. Now the effort is to get people out of shelters by housing them with willing hosts around the country.


2. CURRENT ACTIVITY -- The creation of a Blanco County VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters) group continues at its own speed, which is slow.


We're still trying to line up an instructor for a class in recognizing mental disturbances, differentiating between the harmless and the dangerous, and knowing what to do about the latter.


The National Weather Service has issued its annual spring flooding forecast, listing the areas of the country most at risk from high water over the next three months. We're not on the list. Can't understand why not.


3. SCHEDULED EVENTS -- Plan to clean out your closets Memorial Day weekend! We're doing a disaster used-clothing drive in conjunction with the Seventh-Day Adventists and local churches and other organizations. We'll collect donated used clothing at the First United Methodist Church in Johnson City Saturday from 9-5, Sunday 1-5 and again Memorial Day Monday from 9-5. We'll do a rough sort, but it is the Adventists who are the international experts are handling used clothes for disaster relief. They'll do the detailed sort and screening, sanitize the clothing, and store it until it is needed, then deliver it wherever that need may be. We'll need volunteers, of course, for light work (suitable for children, too) each of the three days. More details next month


4.  OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING (which you're welcome to attend) -- Free unless otherwise indicated.


The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter). Courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville, and are free, unless otherwise noted. To register, call 830-792-4677. 


4/5 6-10:30 -- CPR/AED adult ($30)

4/7 9-1:30 -- Child, Infant, CPR/AED ($35)

4/9 8-6 -- Adult Child Infant CPR/AED/First Aid ($50)

4/12 9-4 -- Adult CPR/AED/First Aid ($40)

4/12 9-3 -- Client Casework: Providing Emergency Assistance. If you missed the March course in Fredericksburg, here's your second chance in Kerrville. How to open cases do the paperwork that allows emergency aid to flow to people who need it, from local house-fires up to major disasters.

4/13 8-5 -- Service to the Armed Forces Casework. Providing ARC help to military personnel, families and veterans. (First of two days)

4/14 8-5 -- Service to the Armed Forces Casework. Providing ARC help to military personnel, families and veterans. (Second of two days)

4/14 8-4 -- Disaster Frontline Supervisor and Simulation. How to manage a disaster response.

4/14 9-5 -- Disaster Fundraising. Raising money to assist survivors of disaster.

4/21 9-3 -- Adult Child Infant CPR/AED ($40)


ARC Centex Chapter -- All training is at the Austin ARC chapter house at 2218 Pershing Drive unless noted. To register, call Stephanie Cosmas at 512-929-1294 or email  scosmas@centex.redcross.org .


4/7 6-9:30 -- Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for all ARC disaster volunteers.

4/12 6-9 -- Shelter Operations. How to work in an ARC emergency shelter as a volunteer.

4/13 6-9:30 -- Shelter Simulation. Hands-on exercise to see how much you retain from the previous day's class.

4/16 8:30-4:30 -- Disaster Frontline Supervisor course and simulation. How to manage an ARC operation in a disaster. 

4/19 6-9 -- Disaster Assistance Team (DAT) workshop. How to deliver emergency aid to people in local incidents, such as housefires.

4/23 8:30-12 -- Disaster Services Overview. Basic training for all ARC disaster volunteers.


ARC San Antonio Chapter --All training is at the SA ARC chapter at 3642 E. Houston St. unless noted. To register, call 210-224-5151 or go to  http://www.saredcross.org/ .


4/29 9-5 -- Client Casework: Providing Emergency Assistance. If you missed the March course in Fredericksburg and can't take the one this month in Kerrville, here's your third chance. How to open cases do the paperwork that allows emergency aid to flow to people who need it, from local house-fires up to major disasters.

4/30 9-5 -- Shelter Operations. How to work in an ARC emergency shelter as a volunteer. Although it doesn't say so, I'm guessing from the length of the course that it includes the simulation exercise, too.


4/5 -- While I'm sure it can't possibly happen to Texas' coastal nuclear power plant, southwest of Houston, one does have to look and Japan and wonder what if we had evacuees coming our way from an incident there. What problems would they bring? What would they need? The American Medical Association has some answers, which it will give you in a one-hour webinar at 11 am Tuesday, 4/5 (tomorrow!). What are the different types of exposure? How do you know who's exposed to what, and what to do about it? What kind of preparation is reasonable? Registration is free at https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/schedule/display.do?udc=m20k3gqn91v0 . Then at 11 Tuesday, join the program at   https://cc.readytalk.com/partlogin/i2z783143ip9 .


4/11 7-1 -- Airport disaster exercise at Austin-Bergstrom needs more than 100 volunteers for victims and other roles. These exercises are wonderful fun. In the last one, we were relatives of passengers arriving on a plane which crashed on landing. They discovered their plan for controlling such relatives didn't work, and our gang pretty thoroughly rubbed their noses in it. Don't know what the scenario will be this time, but they've arranged to use a 737 as part of the game. This time, ABIA is having the Austin Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) folks recruit the volunteers (trying to screen us out?). CERT members will be accepted first, then non-members if the need isn't filled. To get on the list, or the standby list if you're not an Austin CERT member, email Debbie Rich at  Debbie.rich@ci.austin.tx.us . (Do we give you some great opportunities or what?)


4/12 -- The Texas Department of State Health Services is offering a free two-day training course for people interested in being public health-related information officers following an incident involving weapons of mass destruction or other terrorism event. It's the official ICS-318 course, and brings with it good and bad news. The bad news is it's in Round Rock, and lasts from 8 to 5 each of two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, April 12 and 13 (that's next week!). The good news is everything's free...the training, two nights in the hotel, and meals. We have one seat allocated to our group, with the possibility of a second. First come, first served. Contact Gene Mikeska with DSHS at 254-778-6744 or gene.mikeska@dshs.state.tx.us .


4/12 -- The San Antonio Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (SAVOAD) is offering two versions of the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) training course. NOVA training is required for spiritual and emotional counseling in San Antonio evacuee shelters; not even ordained ministers can go in without NOVA training. The long course (40 hours) will be taught in once-a-week classes, every Tuesday from 8:30 to 5:30, 4/12 through 5/10, at the San Antonio Baptist Association on IH 10 West. The short introductory course (4 hours) will be offered next month, from 1 to 5 pm Thursday, May 19, at the Emergency Operation Center at Brooks City-Base, on the south side. Both courses are free. For information or to sign up, contact Jeanne Goodlin, 210-733-9159,  sacommchurches@sbcglobal.net , or Dan Franklin, 210-662-7372,  dan.franklin@texasbaptists.org .


4/21 -- Thought #1: Blanco is a transitional county, where city folks move in next door to ranchers still running livestock, and surrounded by a variety of wild animals. Thought #2: One terrorism concern is an attack on the US food supply, and one way could be spreading disease among food animals. Thought #3: Climate change is expanding the type of animal-borne diseases we're vulnerable to, and lengthening the season for catching them. Thought #4: Epizoötics (epidemics among animals) are problems even in the best of times. With those thoughts in mind, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is offering a free conference call from 1-2 pm 4/21 covering current hazards and trends in animal-borne diseases. To call in from any phone, dial 888-989-3090 and use passcode 4443385. Free registration at  http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=pf7m85dab&oeidk=a07e3ilothp8510009f .


4/21 -- The National Weather Service and local agencies are offering the Skywarn Weather Training Thursday, 4/21, from 6:30-8:30 pm in the Seguin Public Library, 707 East College, in Seguin. Yeah, I know it's a long way, but if you didn't go to the big one in Austin, this is what you get. It is free, though. For more information call Kay Hays at 830-303-9702 or email  kay.hays@co.guadalupe.tx.us .


4/26-29 -- Texas Emergency Management Conference, Henry B Gonzalez Conference Center, San Antonio. The state has long had an annual hurricane preparedness conference, and last year added one on general disaster planning. This year, they're combining the two in one big conference, and putting it on our doorstep. If you're interested in disaster management in Texas, this is the firehose you need to drink from. Information at  https://www.preparingtexas.org/preparedness.aspx?page=15702737-1651-4822-b595-0e4d9acc1f3e . Cost is $150, but you may get in for $35 as volunteer agency (that's BCDRG) staff. Don't know whether that'll fly, but for a $115 discount, it's worth a try.


6/17 and 6/24 6-12 midnight -- Austin PD training academy needs volunteer drunks. It's your opportunity to get drooling drunk at the City of Austin's expense. APD needs to teach cadets how to do field sobriety tests, determining who's drunk and who's merely happy, and to do that they need volunteers willing to give up their sobriety for an evening in the name of education and public safety. The note I got didn't mention it, but they usually run volunteers through a computer check, and some volunteers have to remain sober or semi-sober. Also, if you get picked to be a drinker, you'll need a designated driver to get home...the place will be crawling with cops. Sign up with Officer Jason Wolf at  jason.wolf@ci.austin.tx.us . (Who else gives you great opportunities like this?)


Added to our library of DVDs is a video on preventing cyber terrorism. While this sounds like something we don't need to worry about, since none of us has an internet presence worth a terrorist's time, it's substantially the same thing as the little individual-level attacks by crooks trying to get to your credit cards or bank account. If you want to borrow it, let me know


Even before the disastrous earthquake in Japan, the focus of US disaster planners for 2011 was going to be earthquakes. We usually think of that as a California problem, but the area with the greatest potential for death and damage is the New Madrid Seismic Zone, centered in Missouri! Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma have had flurries of quakes since October...including a 4.7 in Arkansas at the end of February. The "Great American Shakeout" 4/28 will be a major exercise organized by eight states which could be affected by a New Madrid quake, testing their ability to respond to a major one. They're also inviting the public to consider how they might be affected and what they'd do. Then, in May, is TOPOFF 2011, a major national exercise using a similar scenario to test how various government, business and nonprofit entities would work together in such a regional response.


Ideas, suggestions, comments . . . see our website, www.blancocountydisasterresponsegroup.org,
or contact me at: George Barnette, Res: 830-868-0808, Cell: 713-252-2288, george@bnpr.com



FROM THE 2/2/11 BCDRG NEWSLETTER

This issue of the Blanco County Disaster Response Group newsletter includes:


1. Current activity

2. Scheduled events

3. Other People's Training 


1. CURRENT ACTIVITY -- The creation of a Blanco County VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters) group is moving. Jerry Charniak at the Johnson City Christian Food Pantry is a little ahead of us in the incorporation process for his entity, and has generously passed along what he's learned (and is learning) about it. That kind of mutual assistance, of course, is why VOADs exist. Downside is it still will cost us almost $500 in filing fees. Can't be helped.


We worked with the Hill Country Chapter of the American Red Cross to distribute electric space heaters in Blanco County to folks who needed a little help keeping their homes warm. The ARC bought them in Kerrville and distributed most of them there, but gave us a case for our folks. Delivered the last one this week. 


A project currently cooking is tracking down the woman whose home burned last night. Said to have started in the chimney-pipe of a wood-burning stove. The ARC provides a few days' food and shelter, then perhaps clothing and furnishings as needed. Main thing preventing ARC from doing this for more fire victims is finding out about them.


When the rolling blackouts began earlier today, we looked into the potential need to open a shelter as a warming center at First United Methodist Church in JC. Turned out not to be needed, nor practical in this instance. The Pedernales Electric Coop has only been turning power off for 10-15 minutes at a time, which is not long enough to make travel to a warming center necessary. Also, they can only shut down a whole community at a time, not pick and choose who keeps the juice on, so our shelter would be as cold as their homes. Good plan for ice storms, which selectively take out wires, but not suited to area-wide blackouts. 


Speaking of the cold, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a couple of web pages with cold-weather health and safety information:

Extreme Cold: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety:  http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/guide.asp  

CDC Power Outages Homepage:  http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/poweroutage/

What You Need to Know When the Power Goes Out: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/poweroutage/needtoknow.asp


2. SCHEDULED EVENTS -- On Saturday, 2/19, we'll offer the American Red Cross basic shelter course, Disaster Services, An Overview. It's condensed some from the old course and has new videos and so forth. Location to come; we're hoping to hold it in Blanco to recruit more volunteers there.


It isn't scheduled, but we're hoping to partner with the Seventh-Day Adventists on a used-clothing drive in Blanco County, probably in early June...perhaps Memorial Day. The Adventists have staked out used-clothing as their turf in the disaster world, and everyone else is glad to give it to them because used clothes are such a pain to deal with if you're not prepared, and almost nobody is. 


Also not scheduled because I don't have an instructor yet (but am close) is a spring class in how to recognize whether a person who displays unusual behavior is likely to be mentally ill or merely odd, whether a threat or not, and if ill or a threat, what kind of action (if any) you should take. Also hope to cover early warning signs of dementia and Alzheimers and what to do.


3.  OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING (which you're welcome to attend) -- Free unless otherwise indicated.


The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter). Courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville, and are free, unless otherwise noted. To register, call 830-792-4677. 


2/3 9-1:30 -- Child, Infant, CPR/AED ($35)

2/8 8-1 -- Health Services Response Workshop

2/8 9-4 -- Adult CPR/AED/First Aid ($40)

2/9 9-5 -- Disaster Instructor Specialty Training (Part 1)

2/9 8-11:30 am -- CPR/AED adult ($30)

2/10 9-5 -- Disaster Instructor Specialty Training (Part 2)

2/10 8-10:30 am -- First Aid ($25)

2/12 8-6 -- Adult Child Infant CPR/AED/First Aid ($50)

2/17 9-3 -- Adult Child Infant CPR/AED ($40)

2/19 9-12:30 -- Disaster Services: An Overview (our class, tentatively in Blanco)

2/26 8-2 -- Statewide Disaster Exercise for damage assessment teams. Hill Country Chapter is one of 23 participating in Texas. Chapter players must have had the ARC damage assessment course. 


ARC Centex Chapter -- I'm confident it's a glitch in the internet posting system, but for the second month there are no training classes listed on the online schedule. All training is at the Austin ARC chapter house at 2218 Pershing Drive unless noted. To register, call Stephanie Cosmas at 512-929-1294 or email  scosmas@centex.redcross.org .


ARC San Antonio Chapter --The SA ARC Chapter has the same problem. Their online listing of disaster courses shows none scheduled for Feb, although they showed a full schedule in Jan. All training is at the SA ARC chapter at 3642 E. Houston St. unless noted. To register, call 210-224-5151 or go to  http://www.saredcross.org/ .


2/12 8-12:30 -- Helicopter landing zone class, Shoreline Christian Center, 15201 Burnet Rd, far north Austin. Learn how the law enforcement and medical helicopters work, how to set up a landing zone for the medevacs, watch the choppers fly in and out of the parking lot, tour them and the other emergency vehicles on site. Not a skill you're likely to ever need, but way cool for kids of all ages. Free.


2/17 8-9 am -- A free webinar on Healthy Communities: Improving Access and Intergration for People with Disabilities will be available online, focusing on obesity among the disabled and what it means for those who help them, such as us in a disaster response. No charge, but you have to register in advance. For information go to  http://www.informz.net/ualbany-sph/event.asp?eid=3876&uid=68689979&minst=1162980 and follow instructions to register.


2/19 9-4 -- Skywarn Training (basic and advanced) on weather phenomena, recognition, reporting and safety. All-star faculty. It's free, but you have to feed yourself at lunch. The course is in the Big Tex Auditorium, Commons Bldg, Pickle Research Campus, University of Texas. No pre-registration required; information at  http://www.utexas.edu/depts/grg/kimmel/skywarn2011.html


2/24 6:30 -- Austin Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) monthly meeting.  How to be a Neighborhood Crime Analyst. Austin Emergency Coordination Center (CTECC). Free, open to non-members.


3/1 -- The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in Austin has schedule its spring basic training course for new members (you're welcome to join them) one night a week, March 1 through April 12. In it you'll get an overview of what kinds of disasters we're vulnerable to and how the professionals deal with them...and how you can help. It's free and the classes are in Austin's emergency operations center, which is a really cool class venue. It's all free -- apply online at  http://www.austinhsem.com/go/survey/2333/2022/ .


4/11 7-1 -- Airport disaster exercise at Austin-Bergstrom needs more than 100 volunteers for victims and other roles. In the last one, we were relatives of passengers arriving on a plane which crashed on landing. They discovered their plan for controlling such relatives didn't work, and we pretty thoroughly rubbed their noses in it. Don't know what the scenario will be this time, but they've arranged to use a 737 as part of the game. These exercises are wonderful fun. This time, ABIA is having the Austin Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) folks recruit the volunteers (they may remember us). CERT members will be accepted first, then non-members if the need isn't filled. To get on the list, or the standby list if you're not an Austin CERT member, email Debbie Rich at  Debbie.rich@ci.austin.tx.us . (Do we give you some great opportunities or what?)


4/26-29 -- Texas Emergency Management Conference, Henry B Gonzalez Conference Center, San Antonio. The state has long had an annual hurricane preparedness conference, and last year added one on general disaster planning. This year, they're combining the two in one big conference, and putting it on our doorstep. If you're interested in disaster management in Texas, this is the firehose you need to drink from. Information at  https://www.preparingtexas.org/preparedness.aspx?page=15702737-1651-4822-b595-0e4d9acc1f3e . Cost is $150, but you may get in for $35 as volunteer agency (that's BCDRG) staff. Don't know whether that'll fly, but for a $115 discount, it's worth a try.


6/17 and 6/24 6-12 midnight -- Austin PD training academy needs volunteer drunks. Your opportunity to get drooling drunk at the City of Austin's expense. APD needs to teach cadets how to do field sobriety tests, determining who's drunk and who's merely happy, and to do that they need volunteers willing to give up their sobriety for an evening in the name of education and public safety. The note I got didn't mention it, but they usually run volunteers through a computer check, and some volunteers have to remain sober or semi-sober. Also, if you get picked to be a drinker, you need to have a designated driver to get home...the place will be crawling with cops. Sign up with Officer Jason Wolf at  jason.wolf@ci.austin.tx.us . (Who else gives you great opportunities like this?)


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a Children's Working Group devoted to seeing that children's needs and issues are addressed in disaster planning and response. They have information on the website and an emailed newsletter. Access their information or sign up for the newsletter at  http://www.fema.gov/about/cwg.shtm .


Also on children in disasters,  Action for the Rights of Children offers 14 training modules in two groups on what children's unique needs and issues are in disasters. Free download at  www.arc-online.org/using/index.html .


Much of what disaster training is available is for big population centers. Rural communities are less likely to be terrorism targets, but more likely to have natural disasters. Out here we live on a different scale, with tiny budgets, volunteer manpower, longer travel times. But there is help. The federally funded Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium (RDPC) takes day-long disaster training to rural communities, using instructors experienced in the needs and resources of rural towns and counties. In our DVD library is a one-hour panel discussion of the unique pressures on rural responders and planners, and the help available to them. You're welcome to borrow that, or go to  http://www.ruraltraining.org/training/online and see what the RDPC has to offer. Their training isn't available on line yet, but they're working on that, and we're hoping to get them to Blanco County for a session, too.



Ideas, suggestions, comments . . . see our website, www.blancocountydisasterresponsegroup.org,
or contact me at: George Barnette, Res: 830-868-0808, Cell: 713-252-2288, george@bnpr.com



FROM THE 12/29/10 BCDRG NEWSLETTER

This issue of the Blanco County Disaster Response Group newsletter includes:


1. Past Year

2. Coming Year

3. Other People's Training 


1. PAST YEAR -- Funny thing about the end of a year...it's often more active than we expect it to be. Here in Texas, we think of the natural disaster cycle as beginning and ending with hurricane season, and as it calms down in October and November, we think of the season being over. Then one of the fall cold fronts spins off a tornado, or we get a flooding rain, or a wildfire whips up on a south wind, and we wonder where that came from. Winter seldom...but occasionally...brings ice storms, taking out power to homes. Then with the spring comes the parade of storm fronts with the potential for more wind and tornadoes and floods. 


Of those, we went to Quihi, in Medina County, after spring flash flooding there. In the summer, we delivered relief supplies to the Mexican border towns flooded by the inland rains from Tropical Storm Alex. At the end of the summer, Tropical Storm Hermine paid us a visit with heavy -- though not flooding -- rains. We were prepared to open a shelter here for travelers stranded by Hermine, but it wasn't that bad, so stand-by is all we had to do. End of the season, right?


Through it all, our volunteers supported the Johnson City Food Pantry. In December, we helped the American Red Cross distribute electric space heaters to the poor. Volunteer Sharon Zimberg has taken on the task of assembling a directory of social services available in Blanco County. In talking with other folks in November, we discovered there's a chance to get more affordable housing built in JC, and a social service center for the county, and getting our agencies into an online community of central Texas social services, and we're pushing those forward. 


2. COMING YEAR -- We will get our 501(c)3 status, either for the disaster response group or a larger umbrella ground under which we'll be one service. We need both. Stumbling block is the $500 cost. 


The ARC has changed the shelter training package (shorter, simpler) and we'll offer it in February. We'll do this one in Blanco, in hopes of stimulating more participation from that end of the county. Then...what? Is this the year we actually do rural search and rescue training and an exercise? Establish an official Community Emergency Response Team? Establish a working alliance with the disaster response group getting rolling in Marble Falls? It's a clean schedule; we can put on it whatever you'd like to know about.


And, of course, there are the things we can't plan. The La Niña weather pattern is holding and even strengthening, which means warmer and drier weather for us, and we're already in severe drought. There's some concern among the firefighters that this could be a big year for wildfires. La Niña also means more hurricanes, and the long-range forecasters are predicting a season even more active than the last one. While we aren't a big target for terrorists, there is increasing chatter about attempts of contaminate the food supply chain as a means of scaring people and disrupting the economy, and we could be involved in that. 


We do know 2011 will be interesting, like every other year in disasters...filled with completely predictable events that will catch us by surprise, even though we're planning for it and watching. 


3.  OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING (which you're welcome to attend) -- Free unless otherwise indicated.


The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter). Only one disaster course listing for January (below); there probably will be more, but the online schedule ran out before Christmas. Courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville, and are free, unless otherwise noted. To register, call 830-792-3296. 


1/4 6-10:30 -- CPR/AED adult ($30)

1/6 6-9:30 -- First Aid ($25)

1/8 8-6 -- First Aid/CPR/AED Adult, Child, Infant ($50)

1/20 9-3 --CPR/AED Adult, Child, Infant ($40)

1/20-21 8-5 -- Mass Care II. Supervisor and manager-level training for major disaster relief for those who are -- or want to become -- disaster managers.

1/29-30 9-6 -- First Aid/CPR/AED instructor course ($110)


ARC Centex Chapter -- There certainly will be some in Austin, but nothing's posted to the schedule on their website. They should be back in business after the holidays. All training is at the Austin ARC chapter house at 2218 Pershing Drive unless noted. To register, call Stephanie Cosmas at 512-929-1294 or email  scosmas@centex.redcross.org .


ARC San Antonio Chapter --All training is at the SA ARC chapter at 3642 E. Houston St. unless noted. To register, call 210-224-5151 or go to  http://www.saredcross.org/ .


1/8 9-12 -- Disaster Services Overview. Basic volunteer course on how disasters happen, affect people, and are responded to by the ARC and other agencies.

1/8 1-3 -- Disaster Action Team (DAT) Orientation. How to work as a member of a DAT, which responds locally from single-family incidents such as fires to community-wide floods. 

1/11 6-10 -- Psychological First Aid. Recognizing and dealing with stress in clients and co-workers during and after a disaster.

1/15 9-12 -- Disaster Assessment Basics. How to assess disaster damage and fill out the forms to start relief moving toward those who need it. There'll be a national disaster assessment exercise later in the year, and those who have had the training can participate.

1/15 9-5 -- Disaster Frontline Supervisor and Simulation. Supervisors learn to lead relief teams with classroom instruction and a simulation exercise.

1/17 6-9 -- Weapons of Mass Destruction/Terrorism Overview. What we might be vulnerable to here and what we might be called to help with in higher priority target areas.

1/21 9-3 -- Shelter Operations and Simulation. How to meet the shelter needs of displaced people effectively and sensitively. 

1/22 9-4 -- Client Casework: Providing Emergency Assistance. How to open a case for a person in need and follow through to see the system provides the help they need. Case workers are always in need after a disaster.

1/28-29 9-5 -- Mass Care II. Supervisor and manager-level training for major disaster relief for those who are -- or want to become -- disaster managers.

1/10 6-9:30 -- Disaster Services Overview. Introduction to ARC disaster response; basic for all volunteers.

1/18 6-9 -- Mas Care Action Team Workshop. Training in how to care for large numbers of people in major incidents.

1/20 6:30-10 -- Disaster Services Overview. Introduction to ARC disaster response; basic for all volunteers.

1/26 6-9:30 -- Bulk Distribution. How to get quantities of relief supplies from point A to point B amid chaos.

1/29 8:30-12 -- Disaster Services Overview. Introduction to ARC disaster response; basic for all volunteers.

1/29 1-4:30 -- DAT Workshop. Disaster Action Teams provide immediate assistance to survivors of small local incidents, such as housefires. More frequent than major disasters, but smaller and closer to home. =


The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in Austin has schedule its spring basic training course for new members (you're welcome to join them) one night a week, March 1 through April 12. In it you'll get an overview of what kinds of disasters we're vulnerable to and how the professionals deal with them...and how you can help. It's free and the classes are in Austin's emergency operations center, which is a really cool class venue. It's all free -- apply online at  http://www.austinhsem.com/go/survey/2333/2022/ .


A major concern in Texas is staffing Special Medical Needs Shelters. A lot of survivors with medical needs or disabilities will be able to get along in general population shelters, but some will need more specialized care, and those shelters will need volunteers, too. Especially volunteers who already have some idea of how those shelters work and how to be helpful in them. You can become one of those knowledgeable people through a 3-hour online course on Special Medical Needs Shelters from the Center for Public Health Preparedness, School of Public Health, State University of New York at Albany. You'll need to register but it's free. Information is at  http://www.ualbanycphp.org/learning/registration/tab.cfm?course=smns&s=Overview .


You can't predict weather hazards very far out or very precisely, but that doesn't mean we have to just wait for them to hit us. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, offers an online course in Anticipating Hazardous Weather & Community Risk; in other words, what might happen and what it would do to us. Go to  http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/is271.asp , register, and take the free course through the internet.


Speaking of weather threats, the National Weather Service has a program called StormReady to help cities, counties and local agencies cut the potential for storm-related disasters. Don't live where local government is trying to do that? There's nothing against you doing it for yourself. Start at  http://www.nws.noaa.gov/stormready/index.htm  and go from there.


You're invited to sit in on a 90-minute webinar 1/12 from 2-3:30 on Lessons learned from Haiti, beginning with the earthquake a year ago and carrying all the way through the current cholera outbreak. It's sponsored by the American Medical Association, the National Institutes of Health, National Disaster Life Support Foundation, and the AMA's Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness journal. You'll have to register at  https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/schedule/display.do?udc=g9df4utvg0bg but the webinar is free.


Disasters stress all of us, but even more so those with disabilities, who are less able to care for themselves and cope when things are going wrong. A new website from the University of Kansas' Research and Training Center for Independent Living is helping get such people sharing information and ideas -- through a website, a blog, Twitter and Facebook -- about things they've done or have seen done to better prepare themselves for emergencies. Good ideas for the rest of us, too. It's at  http://www.disabilityprepared.ku.edu/ .


We mentioned above that we could be vulnerable as a site for terrorists trying to disrupt the US food chain and economy. There's a website,  http://www.prep4agthreats.org/ , which discusses the exposure of rural communities to all sorts of man-made disasters, including terrorism, with resources to help us country folk anticipate, prepare for, prevent and recover from such incidents.


With all the revelations from the WikiLeaks releases, the biggest surprise for the disaster folks has been the absence of interest among diplomats and official agencies in disasters in the countries where they were working and reporting. Sure, there were some, and some were detailed, but they were few and there were many more instance where major disasters were known to be happening in the countries and no mention was made in the official reports. The chief exception was anything to do with nuclear weapons or parts. Government officials disinterested in local disasters? Good thing we don't have any of that around here.



Ideas, suggestions, comments . . . see our website, www.blancocountydisasterresponsegroup.org,
or contact me at: George Barnette, Res: 830-868-0808, Cell: 713-252-2288, george@bnpr.com



FROM THE 12/07/10 BCDRG NEWSLETTER

This issue of the Blanco County Disaster Response Group newsletter includes:

1. Looking forward

2. Other People's Training 

1. LOOKING FORWARD -- We're about to wrap up the free heater distribution in Blanco County with the American Red Cross. They're supposed to go to low-income persons or families which include (1) the elderly, (2) handicapped, (3) chronically ill and/or (4) small children. If you know someone in one of those categories, do them a favor and give us the name and contact information. But not to me, please! In the south end of the county, the names are being collected by the Good Samaritan Center in Blanco, and in the north end by the FIrst United Methodist Church in Johnson City. Don't dawdle...we have less than a week to finish up.

High priority in the new year will be getting our 501(c)3 status. If you know who can help us accomplish that without charging an arm and a leg, please let me know. I'm told it has become so complex we need a lawyer to handle it, and that's a $500 hickey.

Also high priority is establishing a VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters) as an umbrella group for us and the others in the county we'd work with when the whistle blows. And a Long Term Recovery Committee (LTRC)...which we certainly don't need this minute...but as our cousins around the state (and as near as Marble Falls) have discovered, it's a lot easier to establish one in the calm when you don't need it than in the chaos when you do.

In that chaos, a listing of who offers which services in the county and how to contact them would be immensely valuable. It would be a good thing in normal times, too. With luck, that project (finally) will launch next week.

This winter we'll do another shelter training course, this time in Blanco, to refresh veterans and recruit new faces...and beef up our thin participation by Blanco folks. What else should we do and where would you like it done? Is there a disaster-related topic you'd like to know more about? Lemme know. 

2.  OTHER PEOPLE'S TRAINING (which you're welcome to attend) -- Free unless otherwise indicated.

The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter (our mother chapter). Courses are at the Chapter House, 333 Earl Garrett at Jefferson, in Kerrville, and are free, unless otherwise noted. To register, call 830-792-3296. 

12/6 6-7:30 -- Veterans History Project Training. Talk to the vets at the VA hospital about their experiences and help compile them into a collection in the Library of Congress.

12/7 6-10:30 -- CPR/AED adult (fee)

12/8 6-8 -- New volunteer orientation.

12/9 6-9:30 -- First Aid ($20)

12/11 9-1 -- Disaster Damage Assessment. How much damage do you suppose that house suffered in the flood or tornado? Getting a handle on damage quickly is important in gauging the size and scope of the disaster response needed...and it's done by volunteers who've taken this course. At the end of February, trained volunteers all over Texas will conduct a giant damage assessment exercise.

12/11 8-6 -- SFA/CPR/AED Adult, Child, Infant ($45)

ARC Centex Chapter -- All training is at the Austin ARC chapter house at 2218 Pershing Drive unless noted. To register, call Stephanie Cosmas at 512-929-1294 or email  scosmas@centex.redcross.org .

12/04 8:30-12 -- Fulfilling Our Mission. Basic training for all ARC disaster volunteers.

12/04 1-4:30 -- Disaster Assistance Team (DAT) Workshop. How to delivery aid directly to those in need in and after a disaster, from one family in a housefire to a community-wide incident.

12/07 6-10 -- Psychological First Aid. How stress affects survivors and responders, and how to help them deal with it.

ARC San Antonio Chapter --All training is at the SA ARC chapter at 3642 E. Houston St. unless noted. To register, call 210-224-5151 or go to  http://www.saredcross.org/ .

12/3 9-5 -- Shelter Operations and Simulation. How to meet the shelter needs of displaced people effectively and sensitively. 

12/4 1-4 -- Disaster Services Overview. Basic volunteer course on how disasters happen, affect people, and are responded to by the ARC and other agencies.

12/4 8-12 -- Logistics: Overview and Simulation. How to get the right relief supplies to the right people at the right time in the midst of chaos. 

12/7 6-8 -- DAT Skills Class. Expanding and sharpening DAT skills, especially using the 9901 form.

12/11 9-11 -- Disaster Action Team (DAT) Orientation. How to work as a member of a DAT, which responds locally from single-family incidents such as fires to community-wide floods. 

12/11 12-3 -- Disaster Assessment Basics. How to assess disaster damage and fill out the forms to start relief moving toward those who need it.

While we're trying to get a Long-Term Recovery Committee launched, Church World Service will offer an all-day webinar on Long Term Recovery Dec 14, beginning at 9 am. The segments are self-contained, so if you can only catch part of it, you'll get a full one-hour unit on that topic, right through your comptuer. Time for breaks and question-and-answer are built into the schedule. Go to   www.cwserp.org  to register. It's free.

The Texas Department of Public Safety is offering a Basic Emergency Management course at the DPS Training Academy in Austin 12/14-16. Contact is Lana Johnson-Peters at 512-424-2196 or  lana.johnson@txdps.state.tx.us. .

How about an online course on trauma and resiliency in children during and after disasters? The Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health offers one at  http://www.ncdp.mailman.columbia.edu/childrentrauma/ . You'll have to register, but it's free.

The US Food and Drug Administration reminds us that winter is contagious virus time -- influenza, colds, pneumonia -- whooping cough is making a big comeback, too. The FDA offers more information about winter viruses and what to do about them at  http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm092805.htm .

How ready are you for a disaster? Chances are the answer is "I dunno", but the Colorado Dept of Public Health and the Environment will answer it for you. Go to  http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/epr/calculator/index.html and fill in the blanks on the checklist, and they'll tell you what supplies you need to have on hand and how much of each...specifically for you and your family.

You can go to  http://www.iema.illinois.gov/iema/EarthquakeGame/Welcome.html and play the Illinois Emergency Management Agency's Earthquake Game. It's designed for kids, but educational for adults, too.

It's designed for state governors -- written by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices -- the "Governors Guide to Homeland Security", a guide to disaster preparedness, response and recovery. For example: want an explanation of the state-federal interface and how the power flows? Lots of governors don't know. You can find out that and more at  http://www.nga.org/portal/site/nga/menuitem.9123e83a1f6786440ddcbeeb501010a0/?vgnextoid=58b4aee432d41110VgnVCM1000001a01010aRCRD

Ideas, suggestions, comments . . . see our website, www.blancocountydisasterresponsegroup.org,
or contact me at: George Barnette, Res: 830-868-0808, Cell: 713-252-2288, george@bnpr.com





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