February 2019 with 14 classes?

How is it already February?!? Gawd!

First week will be a double serving of radio intraop comms training. However, we will be rolling out our first ICS-402: ICS for Executives/Senior Officials course. Looking forward to a diverse group of leaders from across the state.

Second week will be back-to-back ICS-400 courses as well as a PIO Awareness course on AlohaFriday.

Third week is another ICS-400 course with heavy focus on AAR/IP and resource coordination.

Fourth week we are rolling out the basic weather courses starting Monday and then Tuesday right into the FEMA Basic PIO Course with JIC/JIS class on Thursday.

Candidly speaking, February is really the calm before the storm. Wait till March 2019. Yikes.

Are we there yet?


I tried Facebook Live and learned this #SMEM #LESM #HCSM #PIO Safety-PIO-SM-16-002

Did some Facebook Live today w/ Denver International Airport’s Exercise Program Coordinator Ashlee Herring.

Fun stuff esp since we recorded it in Terminal A. (Totally in the airport wild!)

Found out a few things about Facebook Live:

1. First off, the viewing screen is square. That does make it difficult since most TV stations and broadcast media are doing things in landscape mode and want to fill the entire screen. Also, I doubt your TV at home is square right?

2. Turn off cell service. An inbound phone call (like I got one at 6:23). The phone call will stop the broadcast and force you to restart the broadcast. Basically, looks like a hiccup in the video.

3. No matter the environment, an external mic is necessity. Ambient noise would have overtaken the native iPhone mic being used.
4. Questions that were asked in real time would be hard to see from on-camera subjects. If we had a stand, it would have been easier to read questions and respond to them.

5. Also brings me to the next point about “liking” comments that people have added. I barely could do that w/ my fat fingers on the iPhone screen (far right). So perhaps another person behind the camera to Marshall the comments and engage w/ participants.

6. If there were any, I couldn’t see the real-time floating emoticons.

7. Because of the size issue, maybe consider using an iPad for Facebook Live broadcast. Tiny screen on iPhone 6 does not allow for much room for tap error. #FatFingers

8. Without the ability to add hyperlinks in the video, I was relegated to using paper flags created from chopsticks to identify audience questions. This could prove challenging because we often want to drive our audiences to a website, blog, or other reference info.

9. A solid platform or tripod is a necessity for a camera. Despite your cool guy Otterbox case being heavier, it will not stand up to the lightest breeze (reference my previous periscope fail due to high winds).

10. Front facing lighting on subjects is a necessity. Even though the airport has SO much light, we obviously we’re too dark. Think of othe complexities in a nighttime broadcast or challenging weather. Those kinds of environments will force you to be a solid tech guy carrying around a lighting package.

11. Remote actuation doesn’t work so my Bluetooth remote starter will not actuate (or turn off) Facebook Live. Perhaps this is a feature that Facebook is working on in the next update, but at this time, you have to awkwardly push push button to stop live broadcast.

12. In the beginning of the broadcast, you need to allow for some time for people to join in and get acclimated to the newer platform. Similar to a cconference call, people need to get situated. I know it’s Facebook, but it’s still different for those who are watching/participating.

13. Sadly, it had a similar feeling to conference call.

14. Unsure if any hashtags would have helped as I was not looking for more audience members. But I assume Facebook’s lack of # use will not be a driving force of users who search Facebook for hashtags to watch live videos.

15. I did not turn on Facebook’s location – but I doubt people at Denver International Airport would have watched it since we were only talking not “breaking news” or “emergency updates” right?

16. Similar to live on-scene broadcasts, you are going to have to do a mic/sound check. We found our mic to be a bit hot and maybe dual lapel mics would have worked better for sound.

17. For those PIOs who are thinking about going this route, you definitely need an opener and a closer to help acclimate those who join late.

18. I am not sure how Facebook is going to make their live broadcast 508 compliant.

19. Facebook Live ATE UP MY BATTERY!!!! I had to plug my iPhone into an external battery pack so that I could keep broadcasting. Plug in before you start broadcasting.

20. WiFi. I was specifically testing it on Airport WiFi to see if public WAPs would hold signal enough for a broadcast. According to some of your feedback, it seeems to be intermittent cutouts and audio drops. That’s not good for a formal speech. Perhaps a consistent WiFi connection or at least a solid 4G LTE.

21. Facebook’s adds that followed the video posting were completely off. Facebook apparently gleaned orbs, DIY, recipe, cheesy, and buffalo chicken lasagna. Clearly NOT what we were talking about in the video. Maybe their voice recognition isn’t working quite yet.

Oh well, just a few of my thoughts on one of the initial runs on Facebook Live.

Do you have Facebook Live?


JIS – JIC planning class for Tribal State and local PIOs

A fine day to teach the Ohio Emergency Management Agency’s JIS / JIC Planning for Tribal, State, and Local PIOs (G-291) course in Medina County!


A classic start with The Who.

One of the big points emphasized in this class is the differences between a Joint Information Center (JIC) and a Joint Information System (JIS). Both have merits in daily operations and each have strengths and weaknesses in disaster operations.


Sometimes PIOs don’t understand that a JIC or JIS activation is just like a normal activation. If you can’t figure out the differences between the two, take the class from those who have actually worked a JIC or a JIS.


On Tuesday/Wednesday in the Basic Public Information Officers’ Course (G-290), we talked about training and readiness efforts for any PIO. Go Kits were a hot button topic as everyone’s PIO kit would most likely be different. Resource manuals are great to have, but difficult to keep updated. Just maintaining a PIO contact list is a tedious task.

Much discussion about food in the kit. This was obviously NOT a good example of what you should be eating during an JIC activation.


Prob not the best lunch.

Healthy body = Healthy mind. Period.

As the day progressed, we facilitated several in-depth discussions on teamwork, joint efforts in responses as well as some pre-scripted messages that can be used by everyone. Planning now will reduce the amount of white hair during an incident.

Establish relationships now with local health departments, local and regional hospitals, local Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Teams, Special Technical Rescue Teams. Easily rely on your state staff and resources to support your actions. A great wealth of information is available to bring to the table. Just establish that connection before that awkward 0300 hit.

Additionally, tapping into local resources from other Federal Agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives(ATF), National Weather Service (NWS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs Border Patrol (CBP), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), etc…so many options to establish relationships!


“Building relationships now can only increase our response effectiveness during a disaster.” – K. Sur

Looking outside government agencies, public and private partnerships can support our safety and response initiatives – so we need to make a concerted effort to make those connections now. Build relationships before a disaster!


Sur and Mo!

So how can you bring all these resources together? Consider these actions to explore in your jurisdiction:

  • Train. Train. Train.
  • Open discussions with various providers.
  • Invite your all-hazards partners to meetings.
  • Meet regularly. Maintain contact.
  • Take classes together.
  • Share resource lists and contacts.
  • Support each other during operations.
  • Review After Action Reviews / Improvement Plans (AARs/IPs) together.


And if you were wondering, class participants did well on their post-tests.


Psssst…the answer is “C” #not

We had a great time teaching this week. Much thanks to the Medina County Emergency Management Agency and EM Director Christine Fozio for their hospitality. Super fun time.


So much ducking fun (duck face reference)

Special thanks to the Ohio Emergency Management Agency for sponsoring this all-hazards class for our partners in public safety.


(L to R): PIO Instructor Kevin Sur, Medina County Emergency Management Director Christine Fozio, and PIO Instructor Monique Witherspoon.

If you are looking to attend OEMA’s free PIO courses:

  • Public Information Officers Awareness course (G-289)
  • Basic Public Information Officers’ course (G-290)
  • JIS / JIC Planning for Tribal, State, and Local PIOs course (G-291)

**coordinate through OEMA State Training Officer Susan Traylor.


As always, I’m looking forward to the JIC / JIS activation calls. I am excited for these new PIOs to put their new acquired PIO skillz in place. And yes, I said skillz with a Z.

Time is short so do good stuff!