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Author: Rafael Lemaitre
Conventional lines of communication can be impacted after a disaster. This we know. Phone lines can go down, cell service can be overrun with calls, texts, and emails and it can be difficult for survivors as well as first responders to get in touch. This isn’t a far-fetched scenario or intellectual exercise. It’s a reality we’ve seen happen over and over during disasters small and large. Enter Amateur Radio—or what those involved in the hobby refer to as "ham radio."Amateur radio enthusiasts—or “hams” as they’re often called...
Posted On: March 7, 2016
Author: Jessica Stapf
When disasters like extreme flooding, wildfires, and building collapses happen, search and rescue teams are in the air, in the water, and on the ground within hours to respond. They are there working to find and rescue anyone trapped—be it by the elements or by debris.  Our 28 nationally trained and certified Urban Search and Rescue teams are made up of specialists in communications, hazardous materials, logistics, medical, planning, rescue, technical, and water operations.Each task force has up to 210 members on staff at any given time—this ensures that when they’re...
Posted On: January 4, 2016
Author: Jessica Stapf
All disasters are local. They begin and end locally. This statement echoed throughout a day full of collaboration and networking known as Partnership Day.At the end of October, representatives from many of the voluntary agencies and non-profit organizations we work with came together for the first event of this kind in Washington, DC. The event was designed to build, solidify, and highlight many of the connections that make disaster response and recovery successful.Beth Zimmerman kicked off the day with opening remarks. She is FEMA’s Associate Administrator for Response and Recovery and...
Posted On: November 23, 2015
Author: Amanda Osborn
When it comes to emergency management, it’s important to consider every aspect. That’s why the FEMA National Advisory Council plays a vital role in FEMA’s approach to emergency management. The group comprises of 35 representatives of different communities, professions, and sectors of government and industry. I reached out to several members to learn more about the group’s purpose, the “whole community” perspective, and the future of emergency management.“Each member, in his or her own right, brings value, perspective, and a sense of purpose to the...
Posted On: October 20, 2015
Author: Jessica Stapf
Have you ever thought about putting aside your own plans and spending ten months of your life contributing to something bigger? I thought about it, like many others before me and certainly after. But like much fewer, I actually did it.I was a FEMA Corps member out of their Atlantic Region in Baltimore, Maryland from August 2013 through May 2014. Shortly after graduation, I accepted a job as FEMA’s Digital Storyteller at Headquarters in Washington, DC.For the last few weeks, we’ve been reaching out to some current and former FEMA Corps members to get their thoughts and perspectives...
Posted On: September 24, 2015
Author: David Myers
Many faith-based leaders understand the role their facilities and congregations can play if disaster should strike.  The Archbishop of New Orleans put it plainly as he talked about the city’s recovery in the 10 years since Hurricane Katrina:One of his comments encompasses my view on this partnership: “Faith-based groups and government can work together for the common good of a community.”What we’ve learned from faith leaders in New Orleans and across the country are the better we prepare ourselves and our families, the better we are able to pitch-in and help when...
Posted On: September 15, 2015
Author: Jessica Stapf
Volunteers are some of the most important contributors to disaster response and recovery. As the nation looked to remember and commemorate the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, several of our FEMA Corps teams worked with communities across the Gulf Coast to pitch in on the Day of Service, scheduled on the anniversary of Katrina’s landfall.Since 2012, we've been tapping into the spirit, enthusiasm, and helpfulness of AmeriCorps NCCC members to support communities all across the country. FEMA's partnership with AmeriCorps resulted in the FEMA Corps program: since it started...
Posted On: September 4, 2015
Author: Jason Lindesmith, Jessica Stapf, Eilis Maynard
What’s the largest team you’ve ever been a part of? Maybe it’s a sports team, a project team at work, or a group you volunteer with.  Whatever your answer, I’m fairly confident that it’s not as complex, as geographically spread out, or as diverse as the local, state, and federal search and rescue units that collectively make up a single National Urban Search and Rescue Response System task force.The nation’s search and rescue capabilities are in a very different place than they were 10 or 15 years ago. Over the years, disasters across the U.S. have...
Posted On: September 2, 2015
Author: David Myers
“What can I do to protect my house of worship against emergencies or disasters?”It’s a question that I’ve heard far too often and with increasing concern lately. Fortunately, over the past several years, faith leaders representing various traditions have been partnering with local first responders and emergency managers to increase the safety of their congregants by developing emergency operations plans.The DHS Center of Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships, one of 13 federal centers associated with the White House Office of Faith-based & Neighborhood...
Posted On: July 28, 2015
Author: Tony Russell
Many people know that FEMA provides training for emergency responders, but I’d like to share a training partner that may surprise you: Major League Baseball.  Emergency preparedness is an effort Major League Baseball takes seriously.  Recently, personnel from the New York Mets, Miami Marlins, Toronto Blue Jays, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, and Houston Astros baseball organizations participated in the Emergency Management Institute’s Virtual Tabletop Exercise  which focused on an active shooter scenario to help them prepare for the unexpected...
Posted On: June 16, 2015