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Emergency Services

Shark fins in Michigan?!?

This week’s fun fact: Shark fins!

Michigan State Police (reposted from 07-29-11): Why is there a “shark fin” on the hood of Michigan State Police patrol vehicles?

The Plexiglas “Stop” placards on Michigan State Police (MSP) patrol car hoods were originally an imitation of similar, smaller signs on the front fender of MSP motorcycles used for highway patrol in the 1920s-30s. Back then, the motorcycle troopers often did “side stops,” basically pulling up along a motorist to signal them to stop. The driver could look out their window and spot the “Stop” sign, even if the trooper was back a bit and hard to see.

The MSP quit using bikes in 1942 during World War II, but they started putting the larger “Stop” placards on patrol car hoods around 1949. These placards had multiple uses: for side #stops, just like in the old motorcycle days; for blockades, when troopers would block intersections with their cars to check for bank robbers (the hood signs made it unnecessary to keep red lights activated during daylight); and for nighttime response to investigations at homes. Patrol car door shields did not reflect until 1954 (that’s when MSP patrol cars changed from black to the current bright “MSP” blue with lightning bolt door shields), so by lighting up the hood “Stop-State Police” signs when they pulled into a driveway at a house, the troopers felt the residents could look out and see that it was a police car and thus feel safer.

Today, the placards are obsolete, but kept for #tradition. The MSP no longer trains troopers to do side stops in heavy traffic; we quit doing blockades around 1981; and, in today’s police tactics, cops no longer really want to illuminate their presence. The door shields now reflect, too.

My Sunday view of the #ChicagoMarathon

Sunday views…

Yes, it’s the Chicago Marathon today!

Mad props to all who are running and supporting today’s Chicago Marathon.

Lots of stuff happens behind the scenes. Here’s one of the many hydration stations w/ logistical challenges similar to snow. Here’s the “before” pic.

And now for the “after” pic.

Whoa mama!

Shout out to all ARES RACES pros out there supplementing the efforts of ESF-2 in the field. Their coordination is a crucial backup and primary communications for support services throughout the race route.

Medical tents were busy supporting not only runners, but also volunteers too.

Lots of other specialized rigs inservice and visible.

Some of them fly….

Some of them come from other jurisdictions too.

Obviously, one agency cannot do this all on their own. Lots of agencies visible and non-visible staged in providing safety for runners and fans alike.

Coordination services make large scale events like this one go over smoothly.

And don’t worry, recovery/mitigation crews were out too!

Planning and coordination can solve lots of issues. Just takes practice.

Reporting live from the Chicago Marathon…


Another social media platform gonzo

Another one bites the dust.

And by no means was Path a premiere or legacy platform. But it’s worth addressing on the level of “another SM platform to assess” and see if it was worth it.

So with Path gonzo, this is a good reminder to all the community managers, social media (self-proclaimed) gurus, and public information officers that:

  • You don’t need to be on everything or every platform. Most will die.
  • Squatting on every platform is a waste of your time.
  • Don’t be so fetch. Be genuine and align with your agency’s mission, goals, and objectives.

Good reminder –

Bee honest and just bee yourself.


IPAWS National Test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS)

The National EAS and WEA test will be held on the backup date of October 3, 2018, beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS) on the backup date of October 3, 2018 due to ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence. The WEA portion of the test commences at 2:18 p.m. EDT, and the EAS portion follows at 2:20 p.m. EDT. The test will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed.

The WEA test message will be sent to cell phones that are connected to wireless providers participating in WEA. This is the fourth EAS nationwide test and the first national WEA test. Previous EAS national tests were conducted in November 2011, September 2016,  and September 2017 in collaboration with the FCC, broadcasters, and emergency management officials in recognition of FEMA’s National Preparedness Month.

Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT. During this time, WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA should be capable of receiving the test message. Some cell phones will not receive the test message, and cell phones should only receive the message once. The WEA test message will have a header that reads “Presidential Alert” and text that says:

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages (i.e. Tornado Warning, AMBER Alert). Users cannot opt out of receiving the WEA test.

The EAS is a national public warning system that provides the President with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency. The test is made available to EAS participants (i.e., radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers) and is scheduled to last approximately one minute. The test message will be similar to regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar. The EAS message will include a reference to the WEA test:

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System. This system was developed by broadcast and cable operators in voluntary cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and local authorities to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency an official message would have followed the tone alert you heard at the start of this message. A similar wireless emergency alert test message has been sent to all cell phones nationwide. Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not. No action is required.”

The test was originally planned for September 20, 2018 but has been postponed until October 3, 2018 due to ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence.