State of Ohio EMA G291 Joint Information Center / System class at Medina County EOC

Packed State of Ohio EMA Joint Information Center / Joint Information System course today!

Started everyone into group work as well as ongoing discussion on the role of SMEs at a press conference.

Just in case, we also tasked participants to start thinking about a policy/protocol for their agency on sneak attack aka ambush interviews.

We found as we leverages our strengths and capitalize on our skills, we as JIC Managers can better meet the needs of any situation – we just gotta find the right PIOs for the job.

As our groups collaborated, we found that despite crossing state lines, we still have the same problems as other areas – thus proving our point that we need to consistently train together and exercise our plans together.

Many of our participants enjoyed working in the JIC setting and were excited to work in a JIC during the next activation. Most excellent as we build a strong cadre of PIOs across this great state.

My Ohio Peeps!

Reporting live from Medina County’s Emergency Operations Center….


Kicking off another Ohio EMA Basic PIO Course in the EOC

Kicking off another great Ohio Emergency Management Agency (OEMA) G-290 Basic Public Information Officer’s Course in Medina County’s Emergency Operations Center.

Photo credit: Erika Moran

Glad to see so many new PIOs from Ohio and West Virginia in class.

Now, the important point to remember is….


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!


Final day of instructing Ohio EMA’s Basic Public Information Officers Course

Final day of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency’s Basic Public Information Officer Course (G-290). Kaboom!

Before class started, we pumped a little Billy Joel through the ECC&C speakers.


We talked about what kind of information needs to be disseminated including categorizing messages by priority. Obviously, we discussed various social media platforms and a few publishing options to maximize visibility.


Basically, it still comes down to maximizing our efforts during a disaster or emergency.

Working in groups, all participants formulated action items to implement at their agencies. Incidentally, this is truly the reason why so many ICS classes exercise in groups…is to help facilitate open dialogue. Building relationships is easier in an open classroom setting.

And yes, 0300 is NOT the time to be meeting fellow public safety professionals for the first time in the EOC.

As a group, we evaluated everyone’s TV PIO interview.


Everyone shared constructive recommendations with the entire class. Everyone.


In fact, the private industry crew really enjoyed the training and wanted to work/train more closely with various public safety agencies (Hmmmm, I sense this could be the start of a public-private-partnerships-EEEK).

In the end, more group work and a secondary interview helped participants to become more comfortable in front of the camera.

Additionally, non-verbal actions including certain physical cues were shared to help PIOs take back control from an aggressive reporter and take control of the interview.


Remember, the important point to remember is….


Reporting live from FEMA Region-5, at the Medina County Emergency Coordination Center & Classroom…



Teaching Ohio EMA’s Basic Public Information Officers Course

First day of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency’s Public Information Officer Course (G-290). Whohoo!!!!

Welcome and intros today by OEMA NE Region Supervisor Bob Zehentbauer.

Bob Z kicking off today's Ohio EMA Basic PIO course.

Bob Z kicking off today’s Ohio EMA Basic PIO course.

(Bob-Mahalos for the kind words)

Special thanks to Medina County Emergency Management Agency and Director Christina Fozio for hosting this great all-hazards class.

Medina County EMA Director Christine Fozio with the best hospitality in the EOC!

Medina County EMA Director Christine Fozio with the best hospitality in the EOC!

This class, our participants hail from various disciplines including Fire, EMS, Law Enforcement, Emergency Management, Hospitals, Prison officials, Private Industry, Health Department, and Higher Education.

So many experiences to share especially with all the EOC activations we had in the past 5 years here in NE Ohio. Castro case, Ebola, Pepper Pike Tornado, Flooding, Operations Barclay, Hurricane Sandy, etc…all are great experiences that we as instructors can share our experiences with our participants.

I believe the best part about the G-290 course? The on-camera interviews for everyone.

One camera for face, one camera for body language, and a tricky "reporter" asking questions.

One camera for face, one camera for body language, and a tricky “reporter” asking questions.

Many instructors shy away from this task because they don’t have the time, experience, or even the equipment. However, I believe that it is imperative we have these tools that simulate real-life situations. We as instructors should provide the most realistic examples of in-field experiences for all participants.


For those attending, we will never compromise. We will always provide the best class.



ICS-300 Intermediate ICS for Expanding Incidents at SGFD

Starting out ICS-300 Intermediate ICS for Expanding Incidents this morning. Fairly large class with VERY varied backgrounds makes for an interesting class.


Also good to see both EMA directors from Medina County and Wayne County stop in and welcome the class too.


As always, it’s great to be teaching on behalf of Ohio Emergency Management Agency (OEMA) in Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS).