Sunday, August 31, 2008

Outside Looking In, Lessons Learned Before A Disaster

During the summer, we had the opportunity to take a step back from local emergency preparedness and response, to observe other organizations in other countries. This provided an opportunity to take a step back and view things as an observer to local activities.

There have been several press releases concerning response for Hurricane Gustav. The Neighbors Helping Neighbors blog would like to show our support to all the responders.

From the outside looking in, it may be unclear to the everyday citizen if those volunteer efforts are coordinated or if they are being handled by individual agencies that have a service to provide, such as the Red Cross for Sheltering, Mass Care, and Emergency Response.

In a recent press release Virginia “Governor Kaine asks any volunteers or first responders to refrain from self-deploying to the area. Those who wish to help should contact a volunteer organization with a response mission, such as those listed on the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) Web site,”

It was surprising to see that first responders should reach out to Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). There was no mention of Citizen Corps, as Virginia Citizen Corps falls under the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM).

VOAD is listed as, “Non-Government Assistance” and “Faith-Based Organizations”.

According to the VDEM website, “Virginia Citizen Corps, part of the national Citizen Corps program, gets Virginia citizens directly involved in homeland security and emergency preparedness. The program allows you to help your community by volunteering some of your time, energy and skills to emergency preparedness and response activities.”

How can those trained in these programs for “your community” help other areas that need assistance?

* Would an EMS or Fire first responder contact VOAD or would they work through their local or state emergency management agency? Generally when we think of first responders, we think of the trained professionals.

* What about all the volunteers who have been trained through Citizen Corps programs? Would they go directly to VOAD? Should their response be coordinated through local or state level Citizen Corps? If you go to the NVOAD website and search for Citizen Corps, nothing is found.

As mentioned by several Neighbors Helping Neighbors blog readers, there still needs to be better coordination between volunteer organizations, not just at the local level, but at the State and National Level as well.

While it is understood that response is generally coordinated at the local or state level, volunteers need to understand how they can respond to situations in other parts of the nation.

As we discussed in the ICS Training for Barangay captains, “Hats of Incident Management”, Who’s In Charge? The same applies to volunteer organizations.

Who’s In Charge (Of The Volunteers)?
* If the Virginia press release directed people to their local Citizen Corps organizations, would that be effective? Or would we now have individual city and county level organizations coordinating individual response?

These comments are not meant to discourage those who are interested in volunteering. They are just a few questions that our readers have been asking. While our feedback was included in the National Response Framework, additional guidance and resources needs to be provided to trained volunteers.

As mentioned by a reader, “do not take my word for it”, take a look at some of the frustration, some of which has been pretty obvious in recent weeks on this blog.

If you are interested in volunteering in the Gustav response or any emergency, please “contact a volunteer organization with a response mission”, start with a member VOAD organization or as NVOAD suggests, work through, “to connect to a volunteer center in your community.”

If nothing else, the press release should create increased awareness about an often unspoken disaster response organization. VOAD has been quite effective in times of need.

There are other organizations such as your local Red Cross, who can always use volunteers to go through their training to become members of their Disaster Action Teams (DAT).

Think about all the time you are spending trying to help out your neighbors in other cities.

* Would additional guidance in the National Response Framework be the answer? Should there be greater awareness of a single point for all volunteers to go to, such as

* Are there any immediate answers to these questions? As we are days away from a major hurricane to hit our shores, there is one thing clear,

now is not the time to be asking these questions.

And as we have said before, never forget to

Another Virginia Group Responds to Hurricane Gustav


Gordon Hickey, Governor's Office (804) 225-4260; (804) 291-8977 (cell);

Laura Southard, VDEM (804) 674-2400;

For Immediate Release

Aug. 30, 2008

-- DGIF team will deploy to Louisiana --

RICHMOND, Va. -- Governor Timothy M. Kaine today announced that resources from the Commonwealth of Virginia will be dispatched to Louisiana in response to the threat of Hurricane Gustav, a major storm aiming for the Gulf Coast.

A Task Force team of 30 law enforcement officers with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will leave Sunday, Aug. 31, to arrive at a staging area in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries by Monday morning. They are trained to work in law enforcement as well as search, rescue and evacuation operations in high water areas. The team is equipped with chainsaws, axes, extra fuel, parts and equipment designed for self-sufficiency in the bayou areas of south Louisiana. It is expected that the team will work for about a week before returning to Virginia.

"We have been working for several days with other states to be ready to respond as soon as requests come in from affected areas," Governor Kaine said. "We will share our resources and help in any way we can."

Governor Kaine activated the Emergency Management Assistance Compact Friday, Aug. 29, to help states on the Gulf Coast prepare for and respond to the potential impacts of Hurricane Gustav. EMAC is a national interstate mutual aid agreement that enables states to share resources during times of disaster.

As a result of EMAC activation, many Virginia state agencies, localities and organizations identified and readied resources that can be deployed and are standing by to respond to additional requests as they are received.

Governor Kaine asks any volunteers or first responders to refrain from self-deploying to the area. Those who wish to help should contact a volunteer organization with a response mission, such as those listed on the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster Web site,

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Other Volunteer Groups Across the National Prepare for Gustav - Other Model Programs

The following article was submitted to the CERT Yahoo group by Jerry Reimer and submitted to the Neighbors Helping Neighbors blog by Ric Skinner - "... Some models here for other CERTs to emulate."

Late Friday afternoon, this message went to all Harris County (TX) Citizen Corps members regarding possible CERT use for evacuation assistance.

Since it's inception in 2001, until recently, Mark Sloan was the Citizen Corps coordinator; now the county's emergency management coordinator. For his efforts sheltering Hurricane Katrina evacuees, he was named ABC News' "Person of the Week" for September 9 2005

Jerry Reimer
Harris County TX CERT

Subject: Harris County Citizen Corps: GUSTAV Update Date: Fri, 29 Aug2008

Harris County Citizen Corps Volunteers: If the storm begins to approach our portion of the Texas Gulf coast, we will need volunteers to support evacuation activities this weekend.

If this is necessary, you will receive an e-mail indicating times and location. Additionally, we will active the emergency / disaster button on the homepage of the website where volunteer information will be posted. Also please monitor the website for periodic updates on the storm.

Enjoy the long weekend and again thank you for making our region safer and better prepared!

Mark Sloan Coordinator
Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management 713-755-4077

Harris County is located in Texas, within the Houston-SugarLand-Baytown metropolitan area. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the county had a population of 3,400,578 (a 2007 estimate placed the population at 3,935,855), making it the most populous county in Texas and the third most populous county in the United States. Its county seat is Houston.

Locals make a difference with disaster response to Gustav

The American Red Cross of the National Capital Area has dispatched vehicles, equipment and volunteers to respond to the needs of the Gulf Coast Red Cross in advance of the landfall of Hurricane Gustav, on course to hit that region as early as Labor Day.
On Wednesday, Aug. 27, our chapter deployed two Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) and four volunteers to a staging area in Alabama.
On Thursday, we deployed two additional ERVs and additional volunteers Other volunteers are enroute to the area. The National Capital Area has activated its Regional Disaster Coordination Center (RDCC) at its Fairfax headquarters.

Friday, August 29, 2008

National Preparedness Month Unplugged

How about a National Preparedness Month Challenge Like No Other!

What would happen if there was a disaster? No power for an entire week?

Do you have food in your house that does not require power to cook? What would we do without a microwave oven? The world's greatest invention!

In honor of National Preparedness Month and to do something good for the environment (think Green), unplug your microwave on Wednesday, September 3!

Unplug it for the entire day, for just one day. Eat a home cooked meal with your family and discuss your family emergency plan.

Start here on to learn how to create a plan for your family.

Photo Source:

How will you "REACT" in an emergency?

The following article was submitted by a Neighbors Helping Neighbors reader (Ric Skinner, Tri-EPIC Regional CERT). "What a wonderful story illustrating what CERT is all about -- neighbors helping neighbors". Items in bold were added to highlight key elements of CERT training.

My name is Stan Walters, Shrewsbury PA. My wife took the CERT training at a fire station in downtown York a few years ago. The following summer she attended an outdoor refresher day. After that I helped her to arrange for York County DES to run the CERT course at our church where I took the class. I then helped to organize the next CERT class and taught the communications segment again at our church. We graduated over 40 people between the 2 classes including one of my sons.

I am the President of York County REACT ( ), a chartered team of REACT International, Inc REACT is a volunteer communications organization but goes beyond Amateur Radio to include the Part 95 services of GMRS, FRS, MURS and CB. Six of our eight team members are CERT trained.

I have taken the following on-line IS courses; 7, 15, 22, 100, 200, 271, 317, 700 and 800. In addition I was invited by the York County CERT coordinator to attend 2 courses, MGT310 and 315 and become a member of the county Threat and Risk Assessment team.

I am active in my county by taking part in varies drills and exercises including last year's Three Mile Island drill and this spring's Peachbottom Nuclear Plant drill. I have never been "called out" or deployed by my county CERT people but my wife and I recently self-activated as instructed in our training.

A severe thunderstorm moved through our area on August 5, 2008. We were checked in to the SKYWARN NET running at the time. The storm struck to our north and east. Seeing that our home and property were OK we jumped in the car to begin an assessment of the neighborhood. We found some residents standing around a tree which had been blown down and was blocking the road. At that point we parked the car and donned our gear.

I called 911, was routed to the PA State Police who said PennDOT would be there in 2-3 hours. I organized the neighbors, someone produced a hand saw and then a chain saw and the group cut up the tree and cleared the roadway. I then called the PA State police and notified them that the road was cleared but the debris remained on the sides of the road. My wife acted as Safety Officer and we used our car's flashers, reflective triangles and electronic flares to divert traffic. We filed an incident report (ICS 201, ICS 214) with York County DES and were told we were the only CERTs to activate and do anything in the aftermath of the storms that day.

Stanton Walters, President
York County REACT

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stop! We have a disaster (solution)!

Thank you for everyone that attended the sessions:

"Stop! We have a disaster (solution)!
Breaking the cycle of competitive disadvantage"

at the National Conference Center in Lansdowne, Virginia.

This presentation will be available on the wiki in the next few days.
For those that expressed an interest in the Corporate Service Corps presentation, it is currently being finalized and should be available within the next two weeks.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Volunteer Feedback

There have been several comments to the Neighbors Helping Neighbors blog recently that highlight the frustration level of some volunteers.

You need to remember you are volunteers and while you may have a desire and passion for the volunteer work you do, it is important to take a stepback and put things in perspective.

As you saw in many of the stories over the summer, the volunteers and responders in the Philippines also have a true passion for what they do.

The volunteers and government employees work hand-in-hand and often have dual roles. Everyone needs to work together for an emergency response to be effective.

These folks train in emergency response and participate in regular exercises. They are "Ready" because it is a way of life. For example, after the recent headlines in Davao, there was yet another headline today, "Bomb found near school".

According to the article, "... the bomb was probably intended for the celebration of the Kadayawan Festival last week." A festival that many of us participated in.

In early September, I will have the opportunity to meet with several local elected and appointed county executives. While I may agree with some of the views posted on the blog, they are not all necessarily my views.

It is my recommendation, that some of you take a step back, get away for a few weeks and look at things with a new set of eyes.

This has been suggested to several volunteers, with one providing the following comment, "If I were to step back; I'd probably step away at this point." To be honest, maybe it is time.

After some time away, think about what you want to do. Return to your current volunteer role or consider other alternatives?

I am not in any way saying to stop your current volunteer activities. You just need to put things in perspective, consider your family, friends, health and other activities.

There are other local volunteer organizations. For example, why not try a religious based organization, such as Reston Interfaith or an organization like the Red Cross. With the current economy, many non-profit organizations are looking for new volunteers.

Regional Disaster Coodinating Council Takes Lead In Rescue Efforts - Mindanao Times

In the past few weeks, Col. Verner Monsanto was featured in this blog for his efforts leading Central 911 and the Davao City Disaster Coordinating Council. According to front page reports from multiple newspapers, Col. Verner Monsanto took the lead in response and recovery efforts for the recent military plane incident.

One of the stories can be found at:

Who would have ever thought that so soon after all the Incident Command System (ICS) training and exercises that so many of the different organizations we worked with would need to come together.

"If I look back at all the time I spent with you, your people, and the many organizations you touch, I would have never thought that so many of them would come together so soon to respond to such an incident. We can look back at all the people who have seen the video "Who's In Charge" and they all know with you as the Incident Commander, the people of Davao and Samal should be proud of the leadership, professional responders, volunteers, and many prepared disaster response organizations."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In Shock That They Would Need To Use ICS, At Least So Soon

As readers of the Neighbors Helping Neighbors blog know, we spent the majority of the summer working with emergency response personnel in Davao City, Philippines.

Less than one week after returning home, a major incident occurred in the region, which impacted the majority of the organizations we worked with.

The complete article, including quotes from some of the people and organizations we trained, can be found at:

Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone.

Partnering With Other Communities For National Preparedness Month

We are pleased to be partnering with the
and providing material for the

Tri-EPIC REPC includes the Massachusetts communities of Charlton, Dudley, Southbridge, and Sturbridge.

As part of National Preparedness Month, representatives will be on hand to discuss the Tri-EPIC REPC, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Citizen Corps, and other related programs.

Showcase Ontario 2008 - Working Together

Why limit National Preparedness Month to the United States?

Sharing this message with neighboring countries,
You are welcome to join us at Showcase Ontario 2008,
The theme "Working Together - Working Smarter"
is key to effective emergency management and disaster preparedness.
On Tuesday, September 9, 2008, 10:00-11:30am,
we present a feature workshop,
"Stop! We Have An Emergency!
Our Citizens Want To Help! -
Lessons Learned from a Global Citizen"
Advanced Registration is required for this conference.
Sponsored in partnership with IBM Canada.

National Preparedness Month - Coalition Partner

For the second year,
Neighbors Helping Neighbors

is a proud Coalition Member of National Preparedness Month 2008.

For additional information on National Preparedness Month, please visit

During the month of September,
in addition to multiple speaking engagements,
we will be comparing different
preparedness tips from around the world.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Flash Back - In Pictures!

Thank You For Making A Difference

Prior to returning to the United States, we had the opportunity to receive several Certificates of Recognition. But also present certificates to the several hundreds of people we trained.

But the real recognition was knowing that our time here will have an impact on the other side of the world, in a developing region, with people who are truly amazing.

Pictured above with Mario Verner Monsanto Executive Officer of the Davao City Disaster Coordinating Council (DCDCC) and Central 911. Receiving a Certificate of Appreciation from Col. Monsanto and Rodrigo Duterte, City Mayor and Chairman of the DCDCC.

Picture above at the University of Mindanao, with representatives from the Council of Deans for IT Education and Philippine Society of Information Technology Educators Foundation.

Thank you again for all the gifts and also the official uniforms provided by Central 911, Davao City Disaster Coordinating Council, and official Office of Civil Defense/National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) hat.

Final Training Class Or The Beginning

How does one know if they have made an impact?

After all the hours and hours of training sessions, exercises, discussions, etc., can one be so sure that the messages that we brought to the region will be continued once we leave.

Were our Train-the-trainer sessions effective?

During the last week in the region, we had the opportunity to see first hand, as two instructors enhanced their material with content that was provided during the training and exercise evaluation we delivered over the past month.

But the impact was more than that. When attending the planning session at the ports, a few weeks ago, there was some concern on my part as to the true readiness for a full-scale exercise.

There is no question, that steps are now in place to ensure they will be ready and that all the agencies will be able to work together. A team that will successfully operate under the Incident Command System (ICS) structure.

The Contingency Planng and Incident Command System (ICS) Training for BEST on CIQS* demonstrated just that, were we had the opportunity to participate in the training session and evaluate two tabletop exercises (Seaport Hazmat Spill and Airport Bombing).

But this did not have just an impact on Region XI, but other areas as well. Through a grant from Australia, these instructors will also be presenting their newly enhanced material at:

  • Cotabato (ARMM)
  • Palawan (Region IV)
  • Zambanga (Region IX)
  • Cagayan de Oro City (Region X)
  • General Santos City (Region XII)
*BEST - BIMP (Bruei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia Philippines) EAGA (East Asia Growth Area) Support Team
*CIQS - Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security

It was interesting to see that Asia Pacific appears to place a greater focus on Quarantine compared to other more developed regions.

Reality - Like No TV You Have Ever Watched

Prior to our visit in Mindanao, we heard the travel warnings and were assured it was not in the areas we were visiting. That being said, it was not uncommon to go through a security checkpoint or see anti-terrorism vehicles.

We even met with the mayor who ensured our safety.

There were several incidents outside the city, during our visit, including a bus that was bombed about 15 kilometers away.

Several of the Philippine National Red Cross volunteers who we worked with and were previously featured on this blog, aided the victims. There is a complete article about the response to the Bus Bombing in Digos, Davao del Sur.

What amazed several of us the most, is that the city is very safe, but there really is a war outside of the city, a conflict that most of the world does not know about.

As we prepare to leave the area, we wish the people all the best and thank them for everything during our volunteer efforts. Stay Safe! And please keep in touch.

From time to time, we plan to feature articles on this blog from the region, highlighting some true heroes in the world.

Spending Part of the Night in Jail

For one of my last activities working with Central 911, we decided why not pull an all nighter and take a few more calls, which should be pretty good, now that the festival kicked off. During the first hour or so, the EMS lead mentioned that I should have rode with the police during my stay here to get to experience it.

Well within 10 minutes, I was able to ask myself, have you ever had the opportunity to tour a local a jail in a developing region?

Jails in your country may not be like those in other areas of the world. We had the opportunity to take an ambulance call at a local police station jail. There were only a few cells, which were approximately 6 foot by 3 foot, with 8 people in a cell. Everyone was standing and cramped together.

The story only begins there.

A prisoner needed to be taken to the hospital. Here is how we understood him being in the jail.

Earlier in the day, a friend of his stole a chicken from his boss. He went over to confront the friend. The father was upset that he accused his son of stealing the chicken. The argument escalated and the person who was taken to jail killed the father. He claimed it was in self defense.

During the ambulance ride and in the hospital, he was escorted by a police officer. However, he was not handcuffed. As such, I rode in the front of the ambulance, just to be safe.

That was the night I rode during the overnight shift, went to the local jail, and looked at a murderer directly in his eyes. A night I will never forget.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Festival VIP Treatment and Protection

The Kadayawan Festival was made even more special with all the VIP treatment we received. Thank you to all of the people we have met during the time we spent in the region.

It was great for groups of people to come up to us, while doing their role at the festival and thanking us for the training, knowledge, and friendship we provided.

But was even better was to know that in the event of a major emergency or disaster that many of the people that were there protecting us, are all well trained in the Incident Command System (ICS) and can all answer the question "Who's In Charge".

From the volunteers, to the response teams, to the NGOs, to the University students, to the government folks. It was great to see everyone come together for such a great celebration. You are a team! And a role model for others around the world.

The following is a list of SOME of the many organizations we worked with.

  • Central 911
  • Davao City Disaster Coordinating Council
  • Region XI Disaster Coordinating Council
  • Office of Civil Defense
  • Philippine Army
  • Philippine National Police
  • Task Force Davao
  • Philippines Coast Guard
  • Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)
  • Barangay Fire and Rescue
  • Department of Health
  • Filipino Chinese Firefighters Foundation
  • Davao Volunteer Fire Brigade
  • Barangay Captains
  • Silver Needles
  • Davao City Police
  • Davao City Traffic Division
  • Davao City Jail
  • Davao City Bomb Squad
  • Davao City Special Anti-Terrorism Unit
  • United Nations
  • Panabo City
  • Island Garden City of Samal
  • Tribal Community
  • Davao City Government
  • Davao Light and Power Company
  • Davao City Water District
  • Office of the President, Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo)
  • Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
  • Davao City Council, City Administrator, and Legislators
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Industry
  • Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Davao Tourism
  • DabaweGNU
  • Davao International Airport
  • Port of Davao
  • Toril International Fish Port
  • Davao Doctors Hospital
  • Davao Medical Center Hospital
  • Philippines National Red Cross
  • University of Mindanao
  • Ateneo de Davao University
  • University of the Immaculate Conception
  • University of Southeastern Philippines
  • Holly Cross University
  • Council of Deans for IT Education
  • Philippine Society of Information Technology Educators Foundation
  • Davao Technopreneurship

    and last but not least, all the VOLUNTEERS and all the people of the region.

Thanksgiving - Connecting With The Tribes

We had the opportunity to meet with the tribes of the region, during the Kadayawan Festival.

While visiting one of the exhibits, a woman asked me about what brought me to the region. After a lengthy explanation about volunteering and emergency preparedness, she explained she goes to all the tribes and spreads the message of preparedness to the different tribal communities.

There are multiple resources available, related to tribal communities, including FEMA's new Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 101A Guide for All-Hazard Emergency Operations Planning and IS-650: Building Partnerships with Tribal Governments. Additional resources have already been also posted on this blog.

This was an excellent opportunity to get to meet and spend time with all the tribes, to try their foods, experience native dance, see how they live, understand the different cultures, and really get to know them.

No Vests? Go Paper!

Earlier in our visit to the region, we discussed how One Person and Two Sheets of Paper Can Make a Huge Difference.

Pictured above demonstrates "logistics" creativity with limited resources.

The next time you participate in an exercise or real incident, is your role clearly identified?

In response to an earlier comment on this blog, what an excellent no cost spontaneous solution.

In addition to clear identification, the incident is clearly mapped out.

Just Another Manic Monday? Not Here!

Every Monday morning, the city council, department heads and representatives from their departments all gather at City Hall for the National Anthem, Flag Raising, and a report from each department. This is the beginning of the work week.

Picture above with the town council are members of Central 911 (Pictured in white shirts, left lower corner).

What a great way to start the week with everyone coming together. Imagine something like this happening in other countries and the impact it could have.

Starting the week together.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Jumping In (To The Port) Head First

Planning and Conduct of Maritime Security Exercise

Last week, there was the opportunity to participate in a planning session for a country level full scale exercise that will be held in December at the port.

When conducting an exercise, it is important not to jump right in and conduct a full scale exercise. There are other things that should be done along the way, including having memorandums of understanding (MOUs) in place, as well as, other forms of exercises.

A list of HSEEP Exercise Types can be found at:

In addition, it is important with the transition to the Incident Command System (ICS), that all of those who are involved in the exercise are also fully aware and trained in ICS.

Enabling Those To Enable Others

During our time in the Philippines, there was also the opportunity to conduct multiple train-the-trainer (T3) sessions. Some of the topics included:
  • IS-100: Introduction to Incident Command System
  • IS-200: ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents
  • IS-244: Developing and Managing Volunteers
  • IS-317: Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams
  • IS-650: Building Partnerships with Tribal Governments
  • IS-700: National Incident Management System (NIMS)
  • IS-701: NIMS Multiagency Coordination Systems
  • IS-800: National Response Framework

  • ICS-300: Intermediate ICS for Expanding Incidents
  • ICS-400: Advanced ICS Command and General Staff - Complex Incidents

  • HSEEP: Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program
  • CERT: Community Emergency Response Team

Many of the resources for these courses can be found in prior blog entries or in the right frame under "Relates Websites".

Thursday, August 14, 2008

University of Mindanao - Travel Warning

Prior to our travels to this region, we heard about several travel warnings. Did we feel safe? Were we at risk? Are these people really prepared for an emergency?

You saw all the pictures, stories, and comments. Was there any question we were in good hands?

Now, we would like to introduce the world to some more of the students we met. Here are the College of Education and Honor Students receiving "Caring Kids Cards".

The following is part of an email received from one of the students.

"wel, i really had a good time talking to you, with your silly jokes and good personality that make us comfortable while being with you...

i think,of all of those volunteers who visited our school, you were just the only one who joins us, mingle with us, and etc. you even sitted on the table where we sell our college t-shirts. hehehe!!! i hope that you'll remember us by wearing the t-shirt that you bought yesterday...

its been a good and memorable time bonding with you even with that short are considered a friend to me and to my CSG (college student government) colleagues...

have a nice day andrew...godbless you!!!!"

Meeting these students has definitely been an experience of a lifetime. They are some amazing future leaders!

ICS-Kar - Karaoke for Officials

Dear Elected Official, Dear College President, Dear Executive, Dear NGO Board,

We would like to invite you to join our group for karaoke.

During our time in Asia Pacific, it has been amazing how many senior people from universities, government, NGOs, etc. would go out and karaoke with us. We could never imagine doing that back home.

Pictured above is a city administrator in the Philippines and also one of the leaders of the Scouts in Canada.

We have had great hospitality during our projects here. And karaoke and plenty of food helped everyone get to know each other better. We could not thank everyone here enough for the experience that will be with us for a lifetime.

Anyone who is willing to take me up on my offer to karaoke, we plan to actually purchase a karaoke unit, so see you soon. We can also share our experiences working with other cultures and other parts of this GLOBAL world! We all have a lot to learn.

You can do both?

No Way!!!

We had the opportunity to work with people from government, NGOs, and universities. Can you believe that people who work at these organizations also volunteer? No really, they do.

Many people use the same skills as their day job and volunteer to give back to others. Think about the skill building potential. Think about the additional impact you can have on society.

Some countries will give time off for volunteering. It would be interesting to speak to someone to hear if those policies really had an impact. Or if folks are still paid overtime when they work side by side with volunteers.

Some countries REQUIRE youth to volunteer. Require?

Is this really needed? Why not make it part of our culture?

Last night we had the opportunity to take some off time away from our work and spend it with the Philippines National Red Cross at karaoke. These folks you may have seen in other blog entries. They all have multiple roles beyond their volunteerism with the Red Cross (teachers, students, employees, managers, etc.).

They are perfect examples of you can do both!

They "... are the champions of the world". These folks are the true heroes and I wish them all the best.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Is it about trust?

In an earlier posting, I mentioned that we spent some time together in the crew's quarters at Central 911. Some good conversation, a game of ping pong, and some darts. I challenged the folks to stand in front of the dart board as I threw the darts at the board. It was quite surprising after all the time I spend here, that they did not trust their medics to care for them. It did not even cross my mind they did not trust me.

Joking aside, in reality, this is not about trust, it is family. I believe these professionals, in any emergency or disaster can definitely answer the question, "Who is the most important person".

  1. Me/yourself.

  2. Your family.

  3. Your team.

  4. The victim.
If you are not there, who will respond? If you worry about your family, can you be at your best? If your buddy/team member gets hurt, does that not take away from another rescue team, with less focus on the victims?

This is not saying victims are low priority, it is just we need to take care of ourselves and our needs in order to take care of others.

Now doesn't this seem to contradict it's about the team. The folks here have the utmost trust in their team, but in reality, as with the darts, with such a strong team, you look out for each other, including yourself.

So, when you put yourself and your own interests first, you only see part of the picture. Ask yourself, are you forgetting about the team? What's your role on the team? It's not only about you!

Say, Hear, Do... No really go do it!

Throughout our time here in the Philippines, I had the opportunity to teach several train-the-trainer (T3) courses.

Pictured below are some of the trainers from Central 911, teaching the senior year nursing students at Doctor's College.

Throughout our discussions, trainning sessions, exercises, mentoring, and other activities, there was one message that was regularly conveyed. It is important to "Say, Hear, Do".

An instructor or mentor can get up in front of an audience and "Say" their message. We can have the audience "Hear" what we say. But it is up to YOU to "Do".
We have presented many skills to help enable the people of the region. It is now time for you to enable yourselves and share this with others.

Yesterday, during the final exam in disaster management and the mass casualty incident (MCI) drill, we did just that with the students.
As pictured with some of the students below, we took the learning to a new level, where I played a victim instructor, adding to the learning, not only for the students but also for the instructors from Central 911.

While it was extremely fun for everyone involved, there were several key learning messages that everyone took away. It was also a great opportunity to see several of the trainers, who were teaching, to see them take the Incident Command System (ICS) and teach it to others.

This group of future nurses is now better prepared for an MCI. "Job Well Done!" to both the students and instructors. And what ever you do, always remember to "Take It Up A Notch" and always reach for your goals.

Thank you again to the Doctor's College instructor (who is a Philippines National Red Cross Volunteer as well), the instructors of Central 911, and all the students, for letting me be a part of this class.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008



During our time here in Asia Pacific, we had the opportunity to work side by side with youth.

There was time spent at multiple schools discussing career transition, technopreneurship, mentoring, internet safety and several other topics.

Here we are pictured with some of the people we presented to at the University of Southeastern Philippines World Bank Knowledge for Development Center.

I Went To The Hospital In An Ambulance

Earlier in the week was the opportunity to ride along with the Central 911 folks. We waited for a few hours, as I presented new technologies to the IT staff, and then the calls started coming in.

Two of the calls, this gave the opportunity to see how some of the locals live and their limited resources. That was highlighted by arrival at the state run hospital, which really does not compare to those we are use to in the states.

The last call was a motorcycle accident during rush hour. We will spare all the details. Since there was a lot of blood, for this call, I decided to ride in the front, instead of in the back with the patient.

Everyone will be okay. And for me, it was another eye opening experience.

An EXPLOSION Of Information

As mentioned in a train-the-trainer session last week, there is a ton of information on the internet that can improve your training programs.

For example, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a wide variety of information resources.

An example of how this information can get pretty detailed can be found here:

Explosions and Blast Injuries: A Primer for Clinicians

Open-source system helps victims cope with disasters

During our time in the Asia Pacific, several folks have asked about the donation that IBM had made to the Philippines National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC).

"This is due to the cooperation between IBM Philippines and the National Disaster Coordinating Council, which came together in Guinsaugon to try out new equipment, as well as the Sahana open source disaster management system that IBM donated last year...

At Guinsaugon, the Sahana software helped NDCC and local officials keep track of the relief goods that came in droves for the victims. It also kept tabs of the location and number of victims in each temporary shelter set up around the affected area." (Infotech).

A demonstration of part of the Sahana solution can be found at:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What would all the experience be like here, if we did not have the opportunity to put on some helmets and try some aeriel routines.

We forgot to mention that some of us are afraid of heights, but once our feet left the ground, it was amazing!

And also a wilderness hike, no communications (that worked) or equipment, but needing to find our way out, as it started to get dark pretty quick, with a team member who could not continue.

The Environment and our Volunteers two Precious Resources

Today, we had the opportunity to plant Waling-Waling plants, in honor of the people and all the volunteers we have met in the Philippines. And another plant in honor of those volunteers back home.

At the same time giving back to the environment, an orchid that was "threatened to distinction after almost a century of neglect".

The environment and our volunteers, two precious resources.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Volunteer Orientation

During our volunteer fellowship, we had the opportunity to work with many college students, faculty, and deans at many colleges in the region.

This morning, we observed the orientation given by the City Tourism Operations Office, for the big festival that starts next week. Several of the items presented to the college level student volunteers include:
  • Do not say no, give an alternative

  • Do not crack under pressure

  • Do not say it is not my job

  • Do not say I do not know.

These recommendations can apply to all volunteer projects.

We are really looking forward to the festival, as it will give us the opportunity to meet some of the local tribe leaders and even potentially ask them about emergency preparedness.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

911 What's Your Emergency? Our People!

Like many mornings, we started our day with some time in the Central 911 Call Center.

Yesterday, in the afternoon, there was the opportunity to get to know the EMS, Search and Rescue, and Fire folks in their HOT quarters.

The fire chief explained when he hires new people, he looks for people with "heart". People who have a passion for doing this type of work. "Heart" is so apparent with everyone we have come
across here, volunteer or professional employee. And both work very well together.

As was mentioned in summary at one of my training sessions, a participant said, at the end of the day, it is about the people. That could not be more true!

It was great to spend time with the Central 911 team and get to know them.

The next time you are with your volunteers, please think about this... do you know ANYTHING about their families or their interests??? Or is that not important for YOU to get your job done? It is important for you to be honest with yourself.

And never forget to
Remember the PEOPLE!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

World Blood Donors Month

The youth today may have the great contribution to change its nation but they may have also big role on saving lives. Young people may get involved on the drive on voluntarily donate their blood. Blood donation is one way of saving people in time of need of blood. Many people have fears on donating of blood, primarily reason of it was the fear of the needle but they never thought of just the second of being hurt by it would save lives for many people.

This year's theme "Pledge 25: 10 Years and Counting...One is not enough, Give Blood Regularly!" as the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) Local Chapter, through the initiative of the Chapter Youth Council (CYC) Officers of the Red Cross Youth celebrates the 10th year anniversary of their young blood donors club in line the celebration of World Blood Donors Month this month of July.

They again encourage young blood donors in the city to pledge in becoming as voluntary non-remunerated blood donors to donate their blood 3 to 4 times a year starting the age of 18. The highlight of the celebration was held at a local mall last July 20,2008 which was a celebrity volunteer was invited to grace the event. Ms. Dionne Monsanto, a former Pinoy Big Brother housemate led the celebration who invited young men and women to donate their blood. A mass blood donation was happened that collected blood from 111 blood donors from old and new members of Pledge 25.

Pledge 25 is a program of Red Cross Youth Department (RCY) in support of the drive on voluntary, non-remunerated blood donation campaign of the National Blood Service. It is a group of young blood givers motivated to become voluntary blood donors and will pledge to regularly donate blood 3 to 4 times a year starting the age of 18 until they reach 25 years old. Pledge 25 aims to organize a youth group who will work as an arm of the Red Cross that will tap the youth sector as regular donors of the Red Cross and instill into young and season alike the value of saving other's life by voluntary blood donation.

In this city, the Program was started by the CYC offices following the successful launching ceremony in Manila which serves as the national model for other provincial chapters of the Philippine National Red Cross would also replicate the same. With the joint effort of the Red Cross Youth and the Blood Program, it started with mass orientation and dissemination activities in different occasions to various higher learning institutions with Red Cross Youth Organization and to several communities in this city as well. Until on February 08, 1998, the Pledge 25 Program was launched locally with a fifty five (55) initial young blood donors and members coming from the different Red Cross Youth Organization and communities in this city. Subsequently after two (2) months from the launching, a total of 153 young donors were able to donate blood and several of them came back on the third month for their second donation.

Like what happened in the situation of the blood donors in the city and in entire county, this grouped of blood donors in our city experienced a high-low trend as it reached the modern age after a great start on their launching.

Year by year the membership is declining and few of the members are coming back for the follow up donations. Some are already expired due to age qualification (18-25 years old) and they are already part of the Blood Galloner's Club. Mr. Mario Bongayal, President of the CYC locally said again initiated to re-launch the Pledge 25 in a 2005 which they also invited Red Cross Youth Star Volunteer, Ms. Maybelyn dela Cruz was invited to be with us to celebrate the re-launching.

The PNRC believes that young blood donors are ideal among target donors because they comprise majority from the "low-risk" bracket of the population. Youth donors are therefore encouraged to donate blood and adopt a regular blood donation-practice which entails healthy lifestyle to keep them excluded from the so called "individuals-at-risk" and it vision to retain young blood donors to become "safe donors".

The Red Cross Youth continue on motivating people to be a young life-savers, blood donor recruiters to be physically healthy. Mr. Bongayal said that regular blood donation is important and as it speaks volumes about one's values as it saves lives. And co-operaation in honouring their pledge will ensure a steady flow of blood to sustain the life saving work for the community.

At present, the Pledge 25 Program has more than 300 members from this city of which majority are school based. Historically, the Pledge 25 Program has already contributed more than 4,000 units/bags of blood to the Philippine National Red Cross since it was launched in 1998.

According to Red Cross donors should be 18 to 25 years can be a member of PLEDGE 25 but 16 to 17 ears old must present a parents consent with a weigh of at least– 110 lbs, blood Pressure – systolic – between 90 to 160 mmHg and diastolic – 60 to 110 mmHg and hemoglobin – not less 125 gm/ml. Benefits of giving blood are like a give a little gift, giving act of blood donation means saving another person's life. It is a Free Physical Check up and Laboratory Test–Donors will know their blood type, Hemoglobin level, significant results of screening test s done (Malaria, Hepatitis B and C, Syphilis, and HIV) and whether they are anemic or not.

"Change Oil" – When you donate blood, your bone marrow is stimulated to produce new blood cells. This will make your blood –forming organs function more effective and active cells. Some studies have shown that regular blood donation can help prevent build-up of major organs including the heart. This is equivalent to "change oil" in a car. And Blood Donor Card and Pledge 25 ID Card – With the blood donor card, Pledge 25 members are given priority in case of blood needs. And actually the cheapest way of donation is to give blood. One way you can really make a difference to your community without going to great expense is to give blood. So do something good today. You may visit the PNRC's blood center.

Article Submitted By: Michael Esguerra, Philippines National Red Cross, Youth Services

UIC on You Tube!

Last week, we also discussed the UIC Fire Exercise.

The Central 911 FAS Philippines video can be found at:

In addition, the following is a picture with photo journalist student, Ms. Olipas, who covered the exercise.

We have had the opportunity to work with the youth in many of our activities.

As quoted in Island Garden City of Samal

Last week, we discussed the water search and rescue exercise.

A complete article on the government website of the Island Garden City of Samal is available:

IGaCoS holds Water Search Rescue Drill

Complete with quotes and pictures.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

ICS and CERT Training On The Other Side Of The World - Still The Same Message

Pictured above is Col. Mario Verner Monsanto, Chief Operations Officer, Central Communications and Emergency Response Center (Central 911) and Executive Officer of the city Disaster Coordinating Council. He presented an orientation on disaster management and introduced my sessions.

We had the opportunity to present the following classroom based courses:

  • IS-100 Introduction to the Incident Command System
  • IS-200 ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents
  • IS-700 National Incident Management System (NIMS), An Introduction
  • Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training

As many of the participants are already experienced responders, there was limited focus on the hands on portion of the class.

We joked that I was transported to the training via a motorcade, as pictured below.

In attendance were representatives from Central 911 leadership, City Disaster Coordinating Council, Philippines National Red Cross, United Nations, barangay, multiple rescue groups, church based organizations, and other representatives.

Part of the discussions were about working together.

A challenge was presented to all the barangay to spend 1 hour with another barangay response team in an informal setting. Doing something like basketball or anything. This would provide the opportunity for neighbors to get to know neighbors as their barangay are right next to each other. A very simple challenge with a year for them to complete. Everyone agreed that even getting people together for this type of training and really getting to know each other goes a long way.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Who knew I would be working with the best of the best volunteers?

As part of my volunteer work here in Asia Pacific, I would like to introduce you to some pretty incredible people. Several of which have already been featured in this blog.

Barangay Ma-a had a group of people who were headed in the wrong direction. The head of the group got these youth off of the street and turned them around.

They are a bunch of energetic youth, who are back in school, and making a difference with others. Some of them even became instructors in a very short time.

Just like all the dedicated folks we have met, Barangay Ma-a is an incredible group of people with an incredible leader. Volunteers that are making a difference in their own communities and in the world.

This group also had the honor, last week, of being recognized by the President of the Philippines as the best prepared barangay in ALL of the Philippines.

Anyone up for a World Competition on Disaster Preparedness? There would be some excellent skill sharing and a new perspective for all.

Congratulations to this team. I look forward to spending some more time with them in the next few weeks.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Turn On Your Lights for National Night Out, Then Shut it Off to Conserve Energy Around the World

As part of kickoff activities here in the Philippines and in preparation for National Night Out in the United States, I had the honor of presenting Mr. Edgar Salanio from the Regional Coordinating Council and Office of Civil Defense with a self powered led flashlight from back home.

Mr. Salanio spent some time in the United States and is a highly respected instructor in the Philippines. He teaches every major organization that would be impacted or respond to a disaster or major emergency. It has been an excellent opportunity to work side by side with him and everyone from RDCC and DCDCC.

I was presented with a hat from the National Disaster Coordinating Council and Office of Civil Defense.

Neighbors helping Neighbors, Locally and Around the World. This is truly friends making new friends to help others be better prepared. Once we return home, we look forward to Mr. Salanio providing regular articles to the Neighbors Helping Neighbors blog.

Additional information about National Night Out, which other countries may consider implementing, can be found at: