Sunday, December 26, 2010

Shelter in Place

Shelter In Place (SIP) is an immediate response to a critical incident to reduce public exposure. The order to "Shelter-In-Place" may come at any time from local emergency services. Proper pre-planning and practice is the only way to ensure your workplace, institution, or home is prepared in the event Shelter-In-Place is required.

Shelter in place is an alternative to evacuation when:

* There is not enough time to safely evacuate the public at risk
* Residents are waiting for evacuation assistance
* There is a chemical release of limited duration (e.g. a release of sour gas due to a pipeline rupture)
* The public would be at higher risk if evacuated

If you are advised to shelter in place, listen to the radio and/or watch the television for instructions from emergency officials.

In a building with a Shelter-in-Place team, follow the instructions of the team members.

Are you respond?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Importance of Mass Casualty Incident Preparedness

By definition, an MCI is one where there are more casualties than responders. It can be the results of a traffic accident, an act of nature or a man-made catastrophe. No matter how it is caused, it is an unplanned event that requires an immediate and accurate response.

A first responder can be anyone from a by-stander to a trained professional who is able to immediately plug into the MCI cycle and take action.

Knowing and understanding the MCI cycle and what the expectations are at each component helps keep continuity in the response actions, especially as more help arrives and takes up their roles in the incident.

Being prepared in the event of a MCI is your first step in mitigating the human suffering and event process. Rescue Training Institute offers a comprehensive MCI Awareness course that is designed to develop a first responder's skills in each of the components of the MCI so that they and those who follow can plug into the cycle and expedite the scene.

Remember, the Pine Lake Tornado was an unplanned event, the summer floods in southern Alberta were an unplanned event, the next MCI will be an unplanned event too. It's not about the event, its the response that counts.

Are you prepared... to respond?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Emergency manager calls for adding Facebook and Twitter to NIMS practices

Last March, Rhode Island experienced record flooding that at one point closed nearly 100 roads and 20 bridges. The state Department of Transportation used its RIDOT website, as well as social media like Facebook and Twitter, to keep the public advised of new closures.

"On a typical day, the RIDOT site sees about 2,100 hits," said RIDOT spokesperson Dana Nolfe. "At the height of the flooding, we saw 84,000 hits." Twitter followers jumped from double digits to 1,150.

In Texas, the use of Facebook and Twitter by the Plano Department of Emergency Management allows that city to push information to local communities instantly.

"Rather than posting information to a website and hoping citizens look at it, we can engage them online where they are," said Hal Grieb, senior emergency management specialist.

References: Homeland1. 2010. "Social media have become the elephant in the EOC" Doug Page
Posted: October 28, 2010
Available At:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Facilitating efficient and effective management of an incident response is achieved through preparedness. Efforts to be prepared must be ongoing through planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and corrective action.

Using the preparedness cycle emergency management and first response personal should develop specific measures within their organization to enhance overall operational preparedness. Existing efforts and collaborative relationships can be leveraged when developing, refining, and expanding all-hazardous preparedness programs.

More information on Preparedness can be found on the FEMA web site.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Personal Preparedness for Natural Disasters

The best thing you can do when a natural disaster threatens your safety is be prepared for the effects whether they are direct or indirect. The sever storm or flood may not have directly hit your area, but it may knock out power or contaminate drinking water over a large area. Know your priorities in a natural disaster: water, food, and shelter are your top three in that order.

Consider different options for water supplies. Have about three liters per person in easy to carry containers should you need to evacuate the area. You may also want chemical or mechanical means of purifying local supplies of water. Make sure you know how to use your water purification systems and test them before a disaster situation.

High energy ready to eat food is ideal. Canned food, energy bars, and dried food that do not need to be cooked are good choices. Remember to replace food and water supplies once per year.

Warm, dry, safe shelter is an important part of dealing with a natural disaster. If evacuation is not required staying in your home is likely the best option. As part of your preparedness plan you should have out of the area options for shelter, such as homes of friends and family. As a last resort emergency shelters are available commercially and can be added to your kit.

Regardless of where you live, the threat of a natural disaster affecting you is always present. Your best defense against the affects is being prepared to respond.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fitness to Respond

If you're a first responder you are an athlete, and your physical condition should reflect it. Emergency operations have unique physical demands. It is imperative first responders, professional and volunteer, maintain adequate physical fitness to perform during operations.

Your fitness program should emphasizes the importance of injury prevention, strength, power, speed, endurance, and agility. It should help you become as well rounded as possible to respond when the unpredictable happens. Benefits of an effective program can include increased cardiovascular health - including lowered resting heart rate, increased ability to deal with stress - ability to maintain focus, and decreased chance of physical injury just to name a few.

With the goal being operational fitness look for or design a physical conditioning program that incorporates the following:

  • Train for Operational Fitness - Analyze the demands of operational related activities before building or selecting a program.
  • Three Days per Week - Good start point for beginners, allows for rest days between each training day.
  • Four Days per Week - For more experienced individuals, divide training between upper and lower body.
  • Manage Stress - Stresses in social life, relationships, and injuries can interfere with training, pay attention to things like sleeping and eating right and relationship issues.
  • Train Specifically - Gains reflect how you train, to be strong during operations train for strength.
  • Progress Systematically - Progressively increase the difficulty of your training at predetermined points.
  • Overload Accordingly - Make gains by pushing your body beyond what it's accustomed to.
  • Manage Diminishing Gains - Over time returns on your effort will diminish, change your program accordingly.
  • Manage Reversible Gains - Hard gains will be lost during off time, your restart-up level may be lower than where you left off.
  • Be Individual - Everyone is built differently, maximize your potential by tailoring the program to you.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Five Rigths of Communication

Effective communication can make a huge difference in all areas of life. During an emergency or disaster effective communication can have even larger impacts. In these situations communication must be: timely, accurate, absent of emotion (just the facts), clear, and concise.
  1. Right Person - Are you talking to the right person? Will talking to this person lead to your desired outcome? Could this communication be more effective if it was directed at someone else?
  2. Right Time - Is this the most effective time to communicate your message? Will what you're saying truly be heard and understood? Ensure any barriers/distractions have been accounted for before starting to communicate.
  3. Right Amount - Who hasn't been stopped by someone who took 5 -10 min to communicate something that should have taken 30 sec? There are times to be succinct and times when you must give more information to make your communication effective. Which is it? Decide before you open your mouth, start typing or writing.
  4. Right Content - Is this really what I need to communicate right now, is this what they need to hear or see? Judge carefully what will make this the most effective content to achieve your desired outcome.
  5. Right Method - What is the most effective means of getting my message across? Email, written letter, phone call, radio transmission, face to face? You have many choices - pick the right one depending on the situation, the desired outcome, who you are communicating with, and time constraints.
Practice these five strategies in your everyday communications and be prepared to respond with effective communication during an emergency.
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