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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
Author: Jessica Stapf
Picture it: a warm and sunny Saturday morning in Maryland, about a half-hour outside of Washington, DC. Blaring bagpipes and snare drum rattles provide an interesting soundtrack; it’s evident you’re in a sea of first responders. Dogs from all over the country have travelled with their handlers to the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Academy to complete the rubble pile portion of the Canine Search Specialist Certification exam.It’s a pressure-packed situation; each team has successfully completed the first four tests to arrive here and they are one set of simulated...
Posted On: June 11, 2015
Author: Jessica Stapf
What was the toughest job interview you ever had? A grueling Q&A session with a panel of people in intimidating suits? Or maybe it involved a test or a simulation? No matter what your toughest job interview experience, I bet you’ll be impressed by the gauntlet of tests to become a certified FEMA canine search and rescue team.There’s a reason why the dogs and trainers that are part of FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces as Canine Search Specialists are so good at what they do. The standards we have for these teams of searchers are incredibly high, considering the...
Posted On: June 9, 2015
Author: Jessica Stapf
Scores of inspiring stories emerge after traumatic events like disasters. The stories that include dogs capture my attention and pull on my heartstrings the most. Stories like finding signs of life in debris left behind by tornadoes or earthquakes or the incredible amount of teamwork and shared passion that exists between teams of dogs and handlers. That’s why over the next week we’re looking forward to sharing how FEMA canine search and rescue teams receive their certification.My hope is you’ll learn what makes these inspiring teams possible. I visited a search and rescue...
Posted On: June 8, 2015
Author: Roy Wright
Each year at this time, millions of Americans celebrate the return of spring by reinvesting in the places and spaces where they work and live. Whether it's adding a new roof, a new room, or a new coat of paint, we get to work on projects big and small that help make our homes and businesses safer environments to make a life and living.For the fifth consecutive year, President Obama has proclaimed May as National Building Safety Month to highlight the essential role that safe building codese and standards play in decreasing the damaging effects of disasters and breaking the cycle of human...
Posted On: May 20, 2015
Author: Jessica Stapf
Raging floodwaters, swirling winds, and startling earthquakes are just some of the hazards that communities across America face. It’s impossible to plan for every possible disaster or emergency - but it is possible for community leaders to implement a scalable, adaptable organizational system or “structure” so affected communities can bounce back as quickly as possible – no matter the event.We are excited about a new resource designed to help any community build their own approach to disaster recovery: the Effective Coordination of Recovery Resources for State, Tribal...
Posted On: April 9, 2015
Author: Alexandra Woodruff
Do you remember the best meeting you’ve ever been to?  Maybe there was a memorable speaker.  Maybe you learned things that made an impact on your career.  Or maybe it was a field trip.I’d like to share the story about a recent meeting that’s near the top of my list—the March meeting of FEMA’s National Advisory Council (NAC).  I’m going to talk about the three things that made this meeting special: the setting, the stories, and the vision.For those that don’t know, the NAC brings together a diverse group of experts from many...
Posted On: March 23, 2015
Author: Jessica Stapf
The release of the third season of the Netflix hit series House of Cards provides a great opportunity to provide some insight into what FEMA Corps is all about. I wanted to use this space to share some truth about the real-life men and women who wear the “FEMA Corps” blue shirts you may have seen onscreen.*Rest assured – no spoilers here!Truth: FEMA Corps is a real program.I’m proud to be a former FEMA Corps member. The FEMA Corps program was created in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service to enable young people to help their communities...
Posted On: March 18, 2015