Honoring the life of Phil Politano #TakeNotes #PolitanoStrong

My thoughts today is with my FEMA PIO colleagues in Emmitsburg, Maryland – honoring the life of my friend Phil Politano.

2018 FEMA Master Public Information Officer (MPIO) Cohort-1

2018 FEMA Master Public Information Officer (MPIO) Cohort-1

If you had any part in DHS/FEMA Public Information Officer Program anywhere in the country, you received Phil’s knowledge of External Affairs. That’s right, if you’ve attended courses like

  • G0289: PIO Awareness course
  • G0290: FEMA Basic PIO course
  • G0291: JIC/JIS course
  • E0388: Advanced PIO course
  • E0389: Master PIO Course

…you’ve been impacted by Phil’s noggin and course design.

Now previously, I’ve already talked about Phil’s knowledge and his legacy here. But it is worth noting that he was the one that handed me my FEMA Master PIO certificate.

I wish I was assigned there this week Phil.

Outstanding life Phil. No doubt, we will continue to carry your legacy on.

Phil-we will definitely #takenotes.

@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

Day-2 of the FEMA Basic PIO Course here in KY

Day-2 of the FEMA Basic Public Information Officer Course here.

Glad to finally meet Lexington Fire Capt Jessica Bowman who is also one of the FEMA Master PIOs.

Great day to share some of the tools we use as PIOs. Here’s Sherelle and John talking about the importance and fashionable safety vests are for officials onscene.

Additionally, we discussed media being well visible as their safety is incredibly important. We can’t have our friends in the news business get hurt or become part of the incident.

And trust me, the more people who get injured in an incident, the more paperwork we all have to fill out….so be safe!

As usual, we had a very seasoned media panel from WLEX18 Bill Wilcox and Herald Leader Peter Baniak. Many thanks to both news organizations to spend time out of their busy schedule to spend with PIOs from across the state.

With all Basic PIO classes, we talk about the ability and flexibility for PIOs to do field reporting. Often times, reporters can’t get to a scene because of traffic or lack of staffing. Either way, we as government PIOs can help them out by packaging information they need from the scene. The tools needed to produce this kind of info is fairly easy to get, however the challenge is to put them into play.

By sharing the tactics and tools in class, I am able to improve the skills of any PIO by enhancing their ability to share solid timely and TRUSTED information with any of the targeted audiences.

As PIOs, we are beholden to so many audiences.

  • Public
  • Media
  • Leadership
  • Our internal teams.

At times, our job seems easy however once you dive into it, you can see the complexities of our efforts.

Don’t worry, we reviewed all mock on camera interviews. Tackled key concepts like redirects as well as some tips on how to give more positive non-verbals while being interviewed during crisis.

Super fun day with everyone. Lots of contributions from our partners from Fire, EMS, Police, Emergency Management, Energy, Coroner’s Office, Higher Education, Search and Rescue.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s FEMA JIC/JIS course!

Reporting live from the EOC….

@rusnviek

Day-2 of the new FEMA Region V COOP Course

Starting off day–2 of the new FEMA COOP class.

Solid discussion lead by Northwestern Medicine’s Continuity Manager Sam with our all-hazards pros on alternate locations including cold, warm, and hot EOCs.

Not only locations, but also triggers on when to move emergency operations centers. These kinds of discussions also spark debate on levels of activation as well as essential personnel. We openly discuss triggers and standards that help make it easy for COOP Managers and leadership to roll out their continuity plan.

As we identify specific incidents and actions needed, we can also assess viability of personnel and staff….ESSENTIAL staff to these secure national COOP locations like

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Additionally, we focus in on the importance of not only writing a plan, but also exercising a plan. Good dialog w/ Joe on the city of Aurora’s exercise plans.

While not as sexy as response or even preparedness, these kinds of continuity exercises test recovery. Can’t begin to tell you how important that is to your constituents esp when things are going to 💩. Catastrophic planning is only as good as your last exercise – trust me, when faced with crisis, people will not always do the most common sense thing.

Why is our agency leaning in on the COOP stuff? Well, if all goes according to my plan, we should have at five (5) Master Continuity Practitioners on our staff. Awwwww yeah!

As we close up, Sam leads the post test wrap up to evaluate that level II retention that FEMA EMI loves.

In the end, when you see the participants smiling and hearing their responses in how they are going to directly implement these new rollouts and changes to the plans….is so gratifying.

I am proud of the work we do in Emergency Management. As an instructor I expect a lot out of you. And your students most definitely do too.

As an instructor, your influence to your participants can generate enthusiasm beyond expectation. Dedication is critical to the success of your mission. I am thankful for all the smiles in our FEMA Region 5 COOP class on this #AlohaFriday.

@rusnivek

Brand new FEMA Region V COOP class Day-1

Kicking off the new FEMA Region 5 Continuity of Operations class here at the DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Proud to have Northwestern Medicine’s Continuity Manager Sam Boyle and DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Operations Supervisor Joe Joseph with us to share some of the changes with FCD-1, FCD-2, CC-1, HSPD5, PPD-8, NSPD-51, HSPD-20, and of course the NIMS update.

Mid-day discussion with Joe on the Continuity planning process with the new FEMA course materials for COOP focused around essential functions.

Look at those smiles!

All made to enhance the skills of our public safety partners.

Shout out to all the leadership and participants who took the time away from their desks to enhance their program’s ability to function beyond catastrophic incidents.

Also, for those that were paying attention on the day? Is it really the perfect date?

Hmmmm…

Boom.

COOP? Operations? Social Media? Public Information? Pop culture? Everything is a calculated because even in a FEMA class, we don’t miss a beat!

Welcome to my program. This is how we do things at our house.

@rusnivek

Debut the new FEMA COOP course in Illinois

Pretty excited. Starting tomorrow, we get to deliver the brand new FEMA COOP course.

With all the changes from FCD-2 and other national doctrine (including NIMS) – I am proud to be the first one to bring this course with FEMA Region V.

Totes #excited for Continuity of Operations!

@rusnivek

JIC/JIS Course at IFD HQ – Day-3!

Day-3 of the Joint Information Center/Joint Information System course here at the Indianapolis Fire Headquarters.

This place is super nice…

…and a bonus welcome by the Chief of the department – Fire Chief Malone!

Outstanding to see that kind of engagement of a large metro fire department stop by to say hi. And of course the IFD PIO BC Rita Reith working the PIO magic too!

Great discussion on when situations get worse…ie disaster declarations and how as situations start to grow, how we as a nation respond to help assist others.

You know we had lots of discussion on JIC/JIS operations and needs.

Also discussed how the executive policy room could affect actions of the field PIOs as well as the JIC – which stresses the need for solid, one voice communications from the Emergency Operations Center.

I know, I know, coordination again huh? But it’s the truth! If we don’t work together, we will likely fail our constituents. We must work together to support our ongoing efforts of safety with all our partners.

Great dialog on mutual aid partnerships. Regardless of the situation, we can all work closely with each other and share ideas.

Me? I am very proud of the work from everyone in the class this week.

Looking forward to working with all of you during the next big one.

Until then, go forth and tweet good stuff!

@rusnivek