Detailed warning information on upcoming weather threats and other hazards

Welcome to the third week of 2020 National Preparedness Month! This week, we will be addressing how to prepare for specific disasters.

Compared to other weeks where we talk about general topics, plans, and maybe some things in your kit, we will be talking about how you can get stuff ready for each type of emergency or disaster.

So to start out, let’s talk about information about upcoming disasters.

A solid tool that is almost indispensable is…..your cell phone!

That’s right, that little computer/smart phone in your pocket is a GREAT way that you can discern information and better respond to the emergency.

One easy way is to download the FEMA app.

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https://www.fema.gov/about/news-multimedia/app

The FEMA app has a ton of features that could be beneficial to your specific area. Specifically in the notification for five of your identified cities/county.

This feature provides the ability to see what’s going on in a certain area of the country. And since I travel, I always have the first slot in my list for home. This allows me to get any notification on stuff that could be happening at home.

The second, third, and fourth slot are for my family in Los Angles, Honolulu, and San Francisco. Gotta keep an eye on the family no matter where they are. Plus an extra set of eyes from another part of the country is beneficial esp if they are sleeping at 0300 and it’s 0800 here.

Since I travel a fair amount, I usually reserve slot #5 (the last slot) for my work travel. Even though I may not be from Central City, I will always know the latest in dangers in my travel city.

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From critical tornado warnings or immediate evacuation tsunami warnings – I know I’ll be prepared for my location(s) specific disaster or emergency.

All of the information provided to you….FREE. That’s right-all the details are available to you for free. App is free. No charge from FEMA to download the app. No monthly fee. No recurring administrative charges.

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Ahhhh, safety for free.

I got your back.

More free tips tomorrow addressing specific hazards.

Reporting live from the third week!

@rusnivek

Bridges are out…now whut? #NatlPrep

As we near the end of the first week, we should also consider our planning and look at evacuation routes. As far as things go, most major routes should be open esp in emergency to allow for those who need to egress to GTFO of there right?!?

While in perfect situations, this would be the case. But lately, we’ve had some challenging situations across the nation that leads me to believe we may not have the option to evacuate safety out of the city.

While most days, all the bridges are down in Chicago.

Chicago Hotel Packages Add Spice to the Weekend

However the City of Chicago has had some bad luck and was forced to pop the bridges to curtail silly behavior at night.

With almost all the bridges up, that makes travel through the loop a bit more complex and challenging esp when things happen last minute and late at night.

To help deal with these challenging situations, subscribing to the mass notification systems would provide additional information on which roads are closed but amidst the ruckus, perhaps planning alternate routes out of your location would be best.

Easier said than done but necessary when faced with pressures of the safety of yourself and your family.

While it doesn’t have to be a straight shot out, you can exercise various options on how to exit your location and safely rondevous with loved ones in other places.

Remember, plan at least two alternate routes of egress from your location and try your hardest to reduce the amount of complexity after a disaster/emergency.

As always, remain vigilant and make sure you and your family are safe by planning now.

Reporting live on AlohaFriday…

@rusnivek

How I find out the latest deets on stuff #NatlPrep

Since this is only the second day of 2020 National Preparedness month, we needed to focus in on your plans before, during, and after an emergency.

On the regular, I get TONS of calls/inquiries from people trying to figure out what’s going on. Many of our friends/families can glean this same info I get from the mass notification systems already in place.

The City of Chicago (IL) Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) has an easy system called NotifyChicago.

By inputting your information and particular way to be contacted, you can get the most up-to-date information about any part of the city. This includes warnings, hazards, and of course major street closures due to riots, protests, or other weird things that happen in Chicago. Choosing to be notified via text message ensures that no matter where you are, you can be alerted to dangers in your area 24/7. Subscribe for free here: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/oem/provdrs/alertchicago/svcs/notifychicago.html

At the county level, DuPage County (IL) Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (OHSEM) uses the Smart911 system which is a mass notification system to alert anyone on issues at the county level.

This could include severe weather, road closures, as well as critical information for anyone living/working in the area. You can sign up here: https://www.smart911.com/

From the region:

I rely heavily on our partners from the National Weather Service. While not the primary way, I think their social media work on Twitter is excellent and pull lots of info from them using the alert feature (notifications on) function on Twitter.

Consider following Mike Bardou and the crew from the NWS Chicago or follow your own local NWS office for immediate weather info. There are 122 Weather Forecasting Offices across our great nation.

More details can be found here: https://www.weather.gov/srh/nwsoffices

And finally, with the amount of info and the onslaught of information being pushed to our mobile devices, it’s good to know that IF it’s too much, you can always unsubscribe to any these services.

IF you have family in other parts of the country, consider subscribing to their area notifications. Doesn’t hurt to help a loved one out as they maybe be too busy, sleeping, or incapable of understanding the severity of their situation. More on that tomorrow.

Keep it safe during this first week of National Preparedness Month by making your plan!

@rusnivek

EAS for closing Chicago lakefront, all parks and beaches, the 606 and the RiverWalk

Got a few more EAS notifications today…this one from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Targeting the lakefront, parks/beaches, the 606 trail and Chicago RiverWalk, are now closed. Dang it.

Hoping these preventive measures help reduce the spread of Coronavirus.

Sigh, it’s going to be a long spring huh?

@rusnivek

 

Sunday full press conference with leadership

Sunday funday right? #PIO

Looks like we got a prime spot for our presser today. Flag is up so let’s do this.

Assigned: Sunday Press Conference with senior leadership from County Health Department and County Chairman.

Me? I definitely burned the midnight oil but talking points all done. All reviewed and approved.

Let’s get this started because it looks like all my media friends are here. Welcome media partners!

Getting that angle just right….

But don’t forget, pic or it didn’t happen right?

And it’s Sunday so I didn’t a tie was necessary.

So let’s not delay.

Thanks to the friends at NBC5 Chicago for the live streaming of the presser.

Successful press conference with a few issues to review.

Shared learning points:

  • Trust your more seasoned PIOs to make solid strategic decisions.
  • Don’t be star-struck with national news media.
  • Lack of hard copy printing caused some hiccups.
  • Lack of skills will be very apparent within a few minutes of operation.
  • Lots to work through as this response will be a long response and even longer recovery.

Moving into the role of External Affairs Officer starting tomorrow. Likely turning on the lights for the Joint Information Center (JIC) too.

Hope your Sunday was good.

Reporting live from the presser….

@rusnivek

FEMA Basic Academy graduation – first one in Illinois

The time has come to welcome all of our graduates of the FEMA Basic Academy here at DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management!

“This is the first FEMA Basic Academy offered here in Illinois and we are proud to bring this Emergency Management foundation education here to DuPage County.” said Academy Instructor Kevin Sur. “The skills learned during this intensive course from November through March builds the framework for all Emergency Managers combining knowledge of all fundamental systems, concepts, and practices of leading actions for future leaders.”

The course started in November 2019 where participants were exposed to all mission areas including a myriad of case studies that highlighted the importance of collaboration and coordination in the response and recovery phase of any disaster or emergency.

In January 2020, participants took a deep dive into the science of disasters as well as planning to better help and understand the threats and dangers to each of their own communities.

To understand our hazards, we must understand legit science so that we can use the right resources to solve the problem.

The last week in March 2020, the class focused on the hot button topic of Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program and the Public Information and Warning course. Special thanks to new FEMA MEPP DuPage County OHSEM Sup Corey Mulryan for teaching with me on this one.

Participants debated the use of mass notification systems, social media in targeting specific audiences, and the value of the Public Information Officer (PIO) who’s role is so vital to the success of the agency.

Proud to be a part of the Instructional delivery team to get this first class here at DuPage County OHSEM.

Who’s who in the zoo? Well, we had participants from 6 different states, 3 different FEMA Regions with a diverse crowd from local, county, state, and Federal partners.

OUTSTANDING!!!!!

As we rolled into the graduation, I was able to make some opening remarks and thanking our most esteemed guests in the room.

Glad to hear from the new FEMA Region V Deputy Regional Administrator Kevin Sligh.

Deputy RA Sligh is a graduate of the program and is proud to see this foundational course being used as the marker of success for local Emergency Managers.

We also got a chance to hear from FEMA Region 5 Training & Exercise Manager Jessica Mitchell on the value of training. She is a proud resident of DuPage County.

And finally, to close things out, ladies and gents….put your hands together for Former IEMA Director and former Director of DuPage OHSEM….FEMA Region V Regional Administrator James Joseph!!!!

@rusnivek = #HypeMan

Great to hear his words of wisdom as his start here at DuPage and move on up has been solid.

Oh yeah…..social media. Yeah, I haven’t been posting a ton of stuff. Been concentrating on instruction and delivering the best class stuff.

Buttttttttttttttttttttttttt since I am one of the few FEMA Master PIOs, I figured it was only appropriate that I take a class selfie right?

#engagement #selfie

But seriously, I’m super proud of all the work that everyone contributed in class.

Lots of love for all of them.

More importantly, I know who I can count on during an activation/disaster.

Rusnivek’s 2020 Objective-1: Instructor certified FEMA Basic Academy – completed.

From the bottom of my heart, mahalos to my colleagues for the support throughout the academy.

Reporting live with a huge smile on my face…..

@rusnivek

Site visit ending up at AFD Station-8

Is it kinda like the elephant march when we line up ambulances outside?

Overcast dreary morning as we continue to support our public safety pros in the field 24/7. No rest for the weary!

But after Chicago, I was able to switch out to Aurora Station-8 as we discuss some ongoing issues and see how we can creatively explore more training/exercises to increase partnerships/coordination.

Lots of discussion on our ongoing FEMA Emergency Management Basic Academy as we continue to share the good that the DuPage County OHSEM does for all  partners.

Sometimes it’s difficult for people to understand that Emergency Management is a different field than 30 years in the fire service or 30 years at the police department or 30 years working at an EMS service. Definitely not the same.

So in that same vein, we need to tailor our classes and exercises to address the all-hazards approach and address all partners.

We are fortunate that our classes are geared to hit all 15 Federal Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) in accordance with national plans. Our guidance is clear as we align with national doctrine, state grants/guidance, and local response plans to coordinate and execute any needed response plans.

The crux is that Emergency Management in the EOC will be the coordinating entity during any emergency or disaster. Period.

In order for locals to execute, State to manage, and Federal to assist and support, we need to have a firm understanding of what happens every step of the way. I am proud of my staff for taking the time to see these things through and explore options for our public safety pros.

No doubt, these are the kinds of things that make our EM stronger and solid at supporting our peeps 24/7/365. We in Emergency Management must continue to build a rock solid collaborative effort with our key players so that when we need to exercise or execute, we can do it seamlessly.

Special thanks to the men and women at the Aurora Fire Station 8 for their warm hospitality. Looking forward to seeing all of you in class and future exercises.

Reporting live from the bay floors between Truck-6 and Engine-99…I mean Engine-8…

@rusnivek

Day-2 of FEMA ICS-300 here at FEMA Region V in Chicago

More fun as we continue through day-2 of ICS-300 at FEMA Region V.

Today’s convo will be dominated by the Planning P and how integral the cycle is to our operational rhythm in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) or the Joint Field Office (JFO).

Also a great time to talk about resources and the need for more as we progress along in the disaster. As you know, ordering stuff (single point vs multi point) isn’t easy, accounting for the resource, tasking the resource, and justifying the resource is harder than it looks due to the restrictions that inbound resources have. As always, great discussion today from all participants!

Throwing the shaka cause I know tomorrow is AlohaFriday!

Reporting live from FEMA Region V!

@rusnivek

FEMA + Region V + ICS-300 = Meeee!

Good morning FEMA Region V!

Time to get my ICS-300 on because I am teaching ICS-300 with one of my Plans Section Chiefs Mark Ballard!

This one is an all Federal class here as we serve our DHS partners and various other organizations in learning about the Incident Command.

You know what day it is. On Wednesdays, we wear pink.

Reporting live from the FEMA RV RRCC…

@rusnivek