Day-3 of the APIO course with the Master PIOs at FEMA’s EMI

Day-3 of the Advanced PIO course and today, we see some structure!

No doubt there was going to be some stuff on ICS forms because we got some…

…ICS-215s forms for the win!

And of course more interviews because evacuation and shelter information is super important. So bring on the interviews!

And yes, it’s not easy being green!

BTW-human with pet sheltering is totes important so make sure you know exactly what kind of message you want to pass on.

Lots of work on camera esp focusing in on joint press conferences…

…and of course solid reporter questions too.


At the end of the class, MPIOs initiated a panel discussion with Rita and I on public information.

PC: Joe

PC: Joe

Yep, an unfiltered look into PIO stuff for anyone. We as PIOs should not remain silent.

I am convinced that we are to share knowledge and enhance other PIO’s skills. Because “a rising tide raises all ships” right?

Reporting live from the External Affairs side of the house at the Emergency Management Institute…



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….


State of Ohio EMA – Basic Public Information Officer’s Course in Medina County

Day-2 of Ohio EMA’s Basic Public Information Officer’s course here in Medina County EMA welcoming participants from two different FEMA Regions to our class!

We have representation from almost every ESF – outstanding to see that kind of participation in our state class.

It’s going to be a packed two days of training including classroom discussion…

…complex in-class activities…

…on-camera interviews…

…engaging (and crazy reporter) type questions…

…and of course we had several contentious mock press conferences.

Train like you fight right? We also discussed how our varied experiences lends a ton of expertise to our ongoing operations in any community across this great nation.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s JIC/JIS course!



Great first day of Basic Public Information Officer #PIO Course in Athens County Ohio

Kicking off another solid FEMA / Ohio EMA Basic Public Information Officer’s course.


We have participants from across the state of Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia!


So Region-5 and Region-3 are well represented.


Proud to have a diverse class this week in Athens County, Ohio.


Lots of class engagement with several opening activities assessing preparedness levels as well as gaps in PIO responses.


Addressing difficult situations (aka anticipating media questions) with PIOs or agency heads before they happen is a critical skill that every PIO should master.


Deep discussion on how all-hazards PIOs could support various operations with public safety. Also dissecting how Strategic Communications play a crucial role in planning.



On camera mock media interviews in the afternoon with focus on answering questions, talking points, redirects, and of course preparedness. Great time to hone the skills of every PIO and agency head.


Show and tell on preparedness kits and PIO go readiness kits.

PC: E. Creech

PC: E. Creech

Including my famous “PIO stick”

PC: J. Beckett

PC: J. Beckett

Looking forward to day-2!




Prepping for next week’s PIO classes and exercises

Prepping for another Public Information Officer, Crisis/TV interviews, and Social Media Courses next week.


Reporting live from LEX18…

I am definitely using a few examples to help break the ice.


Talofa from TALA FOU News!

But don’t worry, I have a whole library of examples to share – basically, what I’ve learned through experience.

One of the basic tips I talk about is RBF.

34 edit

WKYC-3 (NBC Affiliate) in Cleveland, Ohio Photo Cred: Adam Gercak

Posture is important especially since I look super small behind a podium.


NBC24 (NBC affiliate) in San Francisco

One thing is for sure, on camera, I need to smile more.


Fox-8 in Cleveland, Ohio


Who is attending? I have the Mayor, entire City Council, Safety Director, Public Safety Chiefs, Health Department, Emergency Management, etc….So yeah, it should be fun.


Have a great long weekend peeps. Please take time to remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms in this great country.


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!