Phil Politano 😢

Earlier this week on Thursday, I was informed of the passing of Phil Politano.

😢

Just like the PIO world, the news came with an embargo as I was told to hold on the distro of Phil’s passing until more details were released.

I was not ready to hear this.

Then FEMA EMI pushed the info out.

😞 😔 😢 I’ve known Phil for years. 😢

I cherish all my conversations with Phil, bending his ear on ideas, strategies, and how we can better serve our communities as leaders and still be innovative by stretching and setting the bar higher for others to achieve more.

Phil pushed me to do more.

I openly share info and talk about my duties as a PIO.

Again, Phil pushed me to do more.

I told my story about PIOs and how critical they are to the success of our mission in Preparedness, Response, and Recovery.

Phil said you can empower more.

I increased my exposure and worked/traveled/trained more public safety PIOs across the country.

Phil smiled and said in his loud booming voice, “Well done man!”

Over the years, I have literally trained thousands of pros. There is no doubt in my mind, each one of them knows the importance of getting the right message, to the right, people, at the right time.

Phil’s oversight to my official FEMA PIO duties and actions helped make me a better PIO. He was always watching me.

Phil was always watching what I was doing.

Speaking of watching, I knew Phil was always watching me, this turned into a little game called the SURprise. Here’s one time I SURprised Phil at a secure USCG Base in California.

That was a good one.

Another time, I caught him delivering an exercise inject, eating a salad in the sim cell during a functional exercise.

A salad and Sur…who could ask for anything more!?!?!

<Sigh>

In 2018, Phil handed me my FEMA Master PIO certificate.

<sigh>

I was hoping to catch up to him at the end of the month at EMI. However, it seems that God needed a PIO and Phil got the ultimate deployment resource request.

Gonna miss his booming voice….

Gonna miss that side eye…

Gonna miss that PIO guidance…

I’ll just settle for that award winning PIO smile.

Trust me Phil, I’ll definitely take more notes.

Reporting with tears in my eyes…

@rusnivek

Quick chat with FEMA Deputy Administrator Dan Kaniewski

I was fortunate this week to sit down this week with FEMA Deputy Administrator for Resilience Dan Kaniewski at FEMA HQ.

Dan’s efforts across the country has helped pushed the importance of preparedness and strength for any community. With regular talks on flood insurance and hazard mitigation, his ability to bring pre-disaster planning to the forefront has been solid as we continue to help many communities better prepare for any disaster or emergency.

Dan’s hard fought efforts is not only with government agencies, but various partners in the public and private sector too. The importance of their efforts will only help better their community when disaster strikes.

Glad to see our top brass pushing for more preparedness every single day too.

Reporting live from FEMA HQ…Happy Aloha Friday peeps!

@rusnivek

COOP kinda day with a unicorn, ARC, and the big DHS IG Pro

Tuesday morning and we’re talking about national continuity!

To some, it may not be exciting. BUT Continuity of Operations (COOP) is so critical to any organization esp to the resilience of any community post-disaster. So I was STOKED to see that I was invited by the National Continuity Division to be a part of the new FEMA COOP class.

And I was even more stoked to be sitting next to the class unicorn.

You see, if we as educators look outside our normal circles and lean on others from various agencies, there is much to learn. We had fine representation from numerous agencies from across the country.

For my lunch meeting I opted for a mini SMEM meetup with the American Red Cross Keith Robertory (@krobertory). We have been following for YEARS but have never met in real life.

Amazing these social media relationships because in our discussion, we have lots and lots in common. Friends, disasters, the list goes on and on…

Speaking of disasters, look who I found….

Streeeeeeeeeeeeeter! Yeah, we kinda twinsies today.

OK, I better get back to class. COOP/COG time!

Reporting live from C Street….

@rusnivek

Monday morning with FEMA HQ staff

Solid Monday morning here at FEMA HQ.

Catching up to a few friends in External Affairs because preparedness doesn’t stop! I knew Jana starting back in the day as we were (and still are) huge advocates for the Ready.Gov Program.

For more details behind the FEMA Ready.Gov program, check out www.ready.gov

And since we are talking about External Affairs, I got a chance to take a deep dive with FEMA External Affairs Director Jessica Nalepa.

Lots of discussion on the complexities of External Affairs and how our actions are so critical in a disaster and of course the public perception. Also lots of discussion on dedication to career and service.

Looking forward to having more discussion with her on how to improve our response and elevate External Affairs for FEMA and the nation.

Suit up because I’m reporting live from Washington DC….

@rusnivek

Another FEMA PIO Awareness course in Lake County Illinois

Another fine start to the FEMA PIO Awareness course here at Mundelein Fire Station 1!

Special thanks to DC Brents and the whole crew!

Lots to talk about as we intro the magic of public information to a new class. Of course we had a few words of wisdom from PIO John Nebl.

Great perspective and stories from Schaumburg Police.

If you were wondering, we are in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC)…so that’s a good thing.

Making your peeps train in the location that they would likely be activated to…is a solid practice.

With a diverse class, we are able to cover lots of topics and various situations. The all-hazards nature of this FEMA class allows us to better prepare our PIOs for any emergency.

Additionally, I love to share my experiences from large events and disasters with fellow colleagues from across the State of Illinois.

Training together better prepares us to coordinate and work together before, during, and after an emergency. That’s right, come on in and form Voltron.

Special thanks to all the staff from Mundelein Fire for the warm hospitality to our staff from the DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Train like you fight!

@rusnivek

City of Chicago OEMC, JIC, PSAP, and other stuff while hanging in the Bat cave

Good morning from the City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications!

Located in the heart of the west loop, this multi functional location serves as a focal point for City EOC, JIC, Snow Command, PW EOC, Ops Center, 911 PSAP, etc….basically, I’m glad it’s a hardened facility.

Today’s Emergency Management topics have to deal with Disaster Assistance and Public Assistance. Hiya Wendellllllllllllllllllllllllll.

Of course, as a good Emergency Manager, we want to take a look at the host city’s EOP.

Lots to discern and digest from our partners.

Now, for those who refuse to share information and hold information tight to their chest….that’s dumb. You realize when the big one hits, your isolationist actions will prove to be detrimental to the success of the response/recovery of any emergency. Again, work closely with your partners BEFORE a disaster.

Looking down into the PSAP center floor, lots of call takers working the good for the community.

PSAPs and EOCs are kept relatively dark to help with eye strain. Telecommunications have a tough job. If you haven’t already done so, I’d recommend that you sit in their chair one day and observe. Quite honestly, I’d take working the squad any day.

Quick look into the City of Chicago’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) too.

And calm yourself PIOs….I found it.

Get your City of Chicago Joint Information Center (JIC) on baby! I sense I will be spending activation time here soon.

And yes, I’m wearing a tie.

As we close out response/recovery discussions for the day, we must spend more time thinking about cross training and enhancing our multi-jurisdictional skills. Working together is critical to any event or incident. We must overcome the stigma and the predisposed notion of kingdoms and fiefdoms. We must work together before a disaster. This will result in better response collaboration and recovery efforts.

Where am I? They threw up the bat signal so….

Reporting live from the Bat Cave:

I’m Batman….I mean @rusnivek