Wednesday, November 16, 2011

IAEM Conference - next year in Orlando, FL

This was an excellent Conference, not only because of the international composition of the attendance  but due to the wider scope of hazards other than hurricanes. There are people in this country who actually worry about earthquakes. Amazing.

I am thrilled that the Conference will be held in Orlando, FL next year. This will dramatically increase my odds of attendance and decrease the costs to the government of my participation .

The U.S. Air Force was well represented at the Conference and we had a respectable contingent of Army officers also on hand. There were some FEMA people on hand but not as many as at the other emergency management conferences that I attend. What also caught my eye was the number of Left Coast participants, particularly from California and Washington State. There were also a lot of local emergency managers from all over the country and its good to hear the different perspectives that they bring.

The Red Cross and Salvation  Army were well represented, with some of the usual suspects here as well as the opportunity for me to meet and interact with mass care professionals from other parts of this nation.Jeff Jellets from the Salvation Army and I gave a presentation on Tuesday on "What's New (and Important) in Mass Care." I credit Jeff for making up the sexy title.

Jeff talked about the new National Mass Care Strategic Council and their charge to develop a National Mass Care Strategy. He also promoted the Mass Care Feeding Template, available at the National VOAD site. This template was developed  by a national working group (on which I participated) to help the emergency management and mass care communities resolve some of the feeding "challenges" that were encountered in 2008 during the responses to hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

I spoke about the National Incident Management System Mass Care Working Group (MCWG), of which I am the Chairman. For the last three years we have been working on resource typing, an effort to standardize naming conventions and capability descriptions mass care resources nationwide. This effort encompasses everything from Field Kitchens and Food Distribution Vehicles to Shelter Management Teams to State Mass Care Coordinators (like me). Our first set of documents were passed to FEMA in August for approval and should be made available for public comment soon (that is, in FEMA's definition of "soon").

I brought a lot of business cards and used them and was able to expand my network of emergency management professionals, which is a lot of what these conferences are about. I attended a lot of informative workshops and speeches and broadened my base of professional knowledge, which is the second important part of these conferences. There is still a lot that I need to learn in the ever changing world of emergency management.

Tonight is the banquet where I get to walk across the stage and receive my Certified Emergency Management Certification from IAEM. I am looking forward to it. I am also looking forward to returning to Tallahassee tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM)

I arrived in Las Vegas, NV yesterday for the IAEM annual conference. This is my first visit to Nevada and Las Vegas. For those of us involved in emergency management, this is the place to be this week.

The highlight of the week will be the banquet Wednesday night when I will be invited to the podium with some forty odd others to receive my Certified Emergency Managers Certificate. The CEM is a professional certification awarded by IAEM. In the spring I submitted a 3 ring binder two inches thick full of documentation. I had to complete an essay and take a test showing my general knowledge of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. I didn't need the certification for my job but I looked at the requirements, and they were substantial, and decided that I could meet them. I'm glad I did.

This morning at the conference we listen to speeches and this afternoon we attend breakout sessions. I will be presenting at one of this afternoons sessions with my good friend Jeff Jellets from the Salvation Army.The title of our session is "What's New (and What's Important) Mass Care?" Sound interesting? There are a lot of people at this conference and I'm sure some will be. I have talked to some Red Cross and Salvation Army friends that I have not met in some time. I have made some interesting people that I had not met before and I have already learned a lot.

A good start to the conference.