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

Breaking news from the official State of Columbia PIO… #APIO

Wait a second…WAIT A SECOND!!!!

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2020 FEMA Advanced PIO class. Photo cred: TheGabeLugo

Is that the State of Columbia Public Information Officer making a solid appearance at the 2020 January FEMA EMI Advanced PIO class?!?

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OMG~!!! I’m #famous

“I’d like to thank the support of the State of Columbia Governor Düsseldorf (aka Maryland EMA PIO Ed McDonough) for his unwavering support through these years as the State of Columbia PIO…”

Special thanks to Super CCN Reporter Mr. LukeSkyWatcher on his outstanding stories on this evolving incident here in Central City and Emerald City in the State of Columbia.

Photo cred: Niki Bender (@NikiBender)

“We vow to work the recovery for our cities, who are the true beating heart of our State of Columbia. We will dedicate resources to strengthen and rebuild affected areas. Together, we will continue to build a prepared and resilient nation.”

I’ll take a few questions at this time….

@rusnivek

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

Class comments – Yassssss!

In reviewing my comments from yesterday’s class, I am reminded how much our impact and influence we have as instructors.

This is the reason why we as instructors, educators, and leaders share our experiences.

Without a doubt, there are clear differences between people who read the slides vs instructors who are passionate about improving our field.

It is imperative that we continue to push the envelope as we train and exercise our nation’s public safety professionals. During an emergency or disaster, there is no second chance. The community’s safety is of the utmost importance.

Our dedication to our public safety constituents is neverending and we must strive to be ready for any situation.

This is what we train for…this is what we do.

@rusnivek

Day-2 of the 2018 DHS/FEMA Master PIO

Day-2 of the 2018 Master PIO program and today we talk a bit about leading the future of PIOs nationally. Starting the discussion is USFA Tom Olashanski.

Lots to discuss and help shape the pathway for External Affairs. Everyone here contributing to the body of knowledge and discussing the future.

It’s more than just tools, more than protocols, it’s about how we move the ESF15 portion along and guide others to a successful career to supplement our Incident Commander as well as our mission objectives.

Also had some heated debate on current topics including the EAS system for mass notification.

Definitely the State of Alaska playing a heavy weight on current topics.

On to the presentation part!

So many different things to talk about.

A dynamic group and solid discussion all day and all evening long.

A completely dedicated bunch of peeps for sure!

@rusnivek

Day-1 of the final week of 2018 DHS/FEMA Master PIO class

Day-1 of the 2018 DHS/FEMA Master PIO final week!

And yes, don’t have to look closely, I’m wearing a tie.

Stopping by is my good friend Interim Superintendent Steve Heidecker. Also sharing how proud he is of the staff at EMI and how they are augmenting the disaster response for Hurricane Florence.

Steve is an outstanding guy!

We most definitely had some solid PIO discussions at lunch…

And as you can imagine, with our class being from a bunch of states, we are all ready to enhance the PIO position in the Command and General Staff.

Yep, all smiles as we work through some complex problems for each of our respective jurisdictions.

Lots of great relationships as we plow through Monday of our Master PIO class.

More fun stuff this week!

@rusnivek

Last week of the 2018 DHS/FEMA Master PIO class

Final week of 2018 FEMA Master PIO class at EMI.

Looking forward to seeing my cohort again and finishing up and defending our paper to the leadership staff at FEMA.

Man, I better concentrate!

@rusnivek

Fresh start to a new year – hello January 2018!

December is always busy but let’s start the new year right – hello to January 2018!

In the first week, it’s paperwork and TPS reports to the max. As usual, we have yearly update classes that needs to be completed and mandatory inservice training. Fun stuff. 🤢 

Second week, I’ll be headed to FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute! I better pick out my favorite ties. Hope to see many of you on campus.

Hold on to your hats because in the third week, I’ll be teaching the exciting ICS-400: Advanced ICS for Command and General Staff – complex incidents. I know you want in.

And the fourth week, I head far west to present Irma/Maria lessons learned with leaders in the disaster recovery industry and Emergency Management community (including Tim Manning) in a Response/Recovery conference.


Busy busy 2018….so let’s get it on!

@rusnivek

Bioterrorism discussion at IIT in Chicago

This past weekend, I was invited to swing by the Illinois Institute of Technology Graduate School in downtown Chicago.

IIT

Spirited discussion included bioterrorism, social media data/intelligence, explosives, nuc/rad release, mass panic/evacuation, and of course drone operations for large events.

taste-of-chicago

Participants included many members of Chicago Police’s upper administration and leadership from Chicago Police specialty teams.

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They asked Dr. Fagel if I was a Special Agent kinda guy. Clearly, my Aloha shirt on a Saturday really messed things up.

Tower

Overall, it was a great day to be in downtown Chicago.

Looking forward to sharing some SME knowledge with the graduate students this fall.

@rusnivek