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

L0105: Public Information and Warning

About to start the final day of the FEMA Basic Academy…aka L01015.

As always, a fine welcome from our Emergency Management Director Murray Snow.

Glad to have our staff support this event.

Also even more happy to have so many of our most trusted partners in the audience today as we continue to chat about Public Information and Warning.

Here’s Pete starting up the day.

Lots more as we continue on.

Sabit’s got some big plan for graduation.

Not going to lie….I kinda love it.

More deets on the graduation shortly.

@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.

😞 πŸ˜” 😒 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

Congrats on PGFD’s PIO Mark Brady

Congrats to Prince George County Fire PIO Mark Brady on a well deserved upcoming retirement from decades of service to public safety and PIOs.

I have been fortunate to know and work with Mark over the years in professional circles. Legit nice guy and consummate professional.

When I received this note, I was exhausted from working back-to-back Hurricane Irma/Maria Type-1 Federal disasters for months. Worked to the bone and getting very little sleep, I wasn’t quite sure what was going on.

I am grateful for Mark’s specific note to me. And in PIO classes, I talk frequently about Mark’s actions but when it comes to nurturing/growing PIOs, Mark took the time to check in on my well being and safety. Trust me when I tell you, I needed to see this note.

Related: For those that used Brady EMS books, that would be the same family – so yeah, Mark’s family is a legacy in public safety.

Congrats Mark. Enjoy retirement. Indeed, our paths will cross again. #PIO

@rusnivek

Last day ICS-300 at DWFD

Day-3 and final day of ICS-300 here at Darien Woodridge Fire.

Lots of discussion on collaboration and teamwork esp in a crisis/emergency. And bringing our partners to the table with a solid understanding of a coordinated all-hazards response is crucial to a successful response/recovery.

Many of the scenarios in the new 2019 version of ICS-400 are based on real-life events which make it easier to parle the teaching points.

Either way, the capstone activity brings all factions together. Regardless of Public Works, Fire, EMS, Police, Health Department, Government officials, heck even out of state response officials, we can now work more cohesively together in disaster response/recovery.

Special thanks to Fire Chief Gorsky and all the fire shifts at DWFD for the warm hospitality this week.

Happy AlohaFriday everyone!

Hope to see you next week for ICS-400!

@rusnivek

It’s all smiles in day-2 of ICS-300 at DWFD

Starting off our day-2 of ICS-300 here at DWFD with Jake and Elwood!

You know those two jokers executed their plans…to get the band back together.

This morning, we are joined by another representative from Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) Region 4 Trainer Wendell Brewer!

Hope to lean on his recent expertise as a MEPP throughout the day.

Additionally, I got several inquiries on training that pertains to timely and proximity to the holidays (specifically any classes in December).

Look, it’s only December 6th. You need to calm down. You’re being too loud.

In short, disasters don’t take holidays or extended vacations. And neither do we. I am proud to see so many public safety partners attending our class from across the country.

Today, we hit the Planning P in full force as we brief our partners with the deets on the tactics meeting. We also dive deep on how important the ICS forms are (esp the 215 and 215A) for all tacticians and deployed personnel. I believe these two forms are critical to every single Incident Action Plans (IAP).

And for those that took ICS courses and thought they were boring and a waste of time or had poor instruction….that’s your fault.

Here’s proof that ICS participants, if provided solid instruction, can enjoy training and smile throughout class. I would say that the smiles probably help nurture transparent and dynamic conversation in class to solve legit problems that face any government agency. Sooooooo critical for any agency leader.

So go ahead and continue to complain about your experiences. Perhaps you just haven’t found an agency that provides solid instructors with real-world experiences that nurtures coordination and collaboration.

And as a true marker that I believe what we teach is impactful in all of our communities, I submit my sock choice for today. If we as leaders of our organization do not plan accordingly, we will likely become extinct.

Rawr.

Reporting live from the front of the class…

@rusnivek

IPEM? Yep!

When I was deployed this summer with FEMA for the disaster response in Nebraska, I totally missed the State of Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) awarding me my official Illinois Professional Emergency Manager certification/designation.

Whohooooooooo – IPEM!

Special thanks to DHS/FEMA, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, and the DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for their support in this process.

Reporting live from Illinois…

@MEPIrusnivek πŸ˜†