IDCM announce Program Manager and Deputy Program Manager

Photo: Donna Fleming

Fleming and Herrera Receive Promotions in Immediate Disaster Case Management (IDCM), BCFS’ Emergency Management Division

BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (EMD) is excited to announce the promotion of Donna Fleming to the position of Program Manager and Melissa Herrera to the Deputy Program Manager position for the Immediate Disaster Case Management (IDCM) program.

Donna has been a part of the BCFS System for thirteen years, first as a Parenting and Education Facilitator and most recently, as a Quality Assurance Specialist for the Community Services Division, where she has served since 2015. Fleming holds a degree from Campbell University in Psychology, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. Donna’s program management and development experience, coupled with her fiscal oversight for federal, state, and local funded projects, provides a significant benefit to the IDCM program.

As the IDCM Program Manager, Donna will be directly involved in strategic growth for the program, as well as providing direct oversight, development, and maintenance of current case management program activities. he IDCM program is the only national resource for federal government-provided disaster case management services. As such, Donna will ensure operational readiness through planning and training to facilitate immediate, around-the-clock response capacity. During IDCM activations, she will assume the role of Case Management Branch Director, coordinating case management-related functions with/through the Incident Command System.

Photo: Melissa Herrera

Melissa Herrera joined the BCFS System in 2014 as a Case Manager, ultimately promoting to the position of IDCM Cadre Team Lead. Melissa has a degree in Psychology, with a minor in Sociology from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. As the Deputy Program Manager, Melissa will focus efforts on continued expansion and maintenance of the case manager cadre through recruitment, assessment, on-boarding, and training of personnel located throughout the country. Melissa has been integral in growing the cadre to over 800 members from across the country, who stand ready to respond to the needs of disaster survivors. During activations, Melissa will assume the role of the Case Management Deputy Branch Director.

Both Donna and Melissa will continue to participate in EMD responses, each as a vital member of the Emergency Incident Management Team (IMT).

“During steady state (times when there is not a disaster), the IDCM program provides vision, planning, and effective training, emphasizing preparedness and readiness. Successful IDCM activations require leaders who are dedicated, focused, and compassionate toward people in need,” says Mario Guerra, Director of Response and Recovery. “Donna and Melissa have both demonstrated and proven themselves to be exceptional leaders and managers in the case management field. I am excited for the IDCM program and am proud of their respective promotions to these positions.”

Promotions will be effective August 1, 2017. Congratulations Donna and Melissa. We know we will continue to see great things from both of you.

BCFS Health and Human Services' Emergency Management Division is a non-profit partner of federal, state and local government and private industry, specializing in emergency management, incident management, disaster response, public health & medical emergency response, mass care, mass fatality planning, medical sheltering and planning for vulnerable populations.

“Don’t wait. Communicate. Make your emergency plan today.”

September is “National Preparedness Month”

 FEMA estimates that 70 percent of Americans haven’t practiced or prepared for an emergency. Even with 24/7 news stories of disasters devastating communities across the U.S. and throughout the world, most families and individuals alike aren’t thinking about floods, wildfires, hurricanes, power outages and other serious events that could happen at any time. The emergency management industry is hoping that recognizing September as National Preparedness Month will change that.
As a national leader in emergency preparedness, BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (BCFS EMD) wants you to be just as prepared as our responders during dire situations.
If this is your first time preparing, here are a few helpful ideas to get started:
  • Every community is different. Do your homework to ensure your plan fits your community.
  • Communication is vital. Speak to everyone when preparing. Speak to everyone throughout the incident. The more informed your network is, the better your chances of survival.
  • Preparedness kits aren’t all alike. Be sure to identify the particular items you and your family will need to survive. This includes medication, equipment and even comfort items.
  • Don’t just plan, PRACTICE! Designate a day every couple of months for your family to practice your plan. Just like top athletes, through practice and muscle memory will help you execute when the pressure is really on.
Just like communities, BCFS EMD has to remain prepared at all times. As a non-profit partner of federal, state and local government and private industries, our team is always updating and refining our skills and knowledge. Our training and exercises provide tailored preparation to any state, jurisdiction or health care entity’s needs. By implementing hands-on workshops and exercises, BCFS EMD helps strengthen the knowledge of communities and organizations seeking further response insight.
BCFS President and CEO Kevin C. Dinnin said it best when he said, “By empowering communities and organizations with the best measures to ensure their safety, BCFS EMD strives to make every individual ready for the worst potential scenarios in their life. We take great pride in being part of these preparations and training.”
Don’t be left unprepared. Make the commitment this month to ensuring you and your family are prepared if — and when — emergencies happen. 
To learn more about National Preparedness Month, visit And for more details on BCFS EMD, visit

BCFS Names John Linstrom as National Deputy Director of Mitigation and Preparedness Services

BCFS Health and Human Services has named longtime and lauded first responder, John Linstrom, as National Deputy Director of Mitigation and Preparedness Services. Linstrom will establish and execute key partnerships with federal and state governments focused on bolstering emergency response readiness and capacity across the nation. Linstrom has more than 30 years of experience in emergency management.

Photo Above: John Linstrom leading a briefing during BCFS EMD’s response to Hurricane Alex. Linstrom is shown on the right wearing glasses

As published on Fire Engineering

SAN ANTONIO – BCFS Health and Human Services has named longtime and lauded first responder, John Linstrom, as National Deputy Director of Mitigation and Preparedness Services. In this role, Linstrom will establish and execute key partnerships with federal and state governments focused on bolstering emergency response readiness and capacity across the nation.

“John is a well-respected and extremely experienced emergency manager known for his knowledge, experience, instincts and poise under pressure,” said BCFS Executive Vice President of Emergency Management Kari Tatro. “He is a great fit for this position and we are glad to have him on our team.”

Linstrom has more than 30 years of experience in emergency management and has responded to thousands of  emergencies, including the 9/11 World Trade Center attack, Hurricane Katrina, Rita, Dolly, Ike and Gustav, the F5 tornado that struck Oklahoma City, and the Haiti Earthquake. A former fire fighter, paramedic and Task Force Leader for Texas Task Force 1, Linstrom has led national response teams for incident management, forensic mass fatality recovery, and urban search and rescue for nearly 15 years.

He has been a part of BCFS’ Emergency Management Division team since 2008 and will continue to serve as the federal Disaster Mortuary Response Team Commander for California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii. Linstrom holds the highest level of National Board Certification in Homeland Security, is a Member of the Institution of Fire Engineers, the International Association of Emergency Managers, as well as the International Association of Arson Investigators.

For more information on BCFS’ work in emergency management, please visit

BCFS’ Emergency Management Division Contracted by FEMA to Develop National “Whole Community” Disaster Training Program


As published by CNBC

SAN ANTONIO, Nov 15, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — As the Northeast struggles to recover from the massive damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, state leaders across the country are witnessing the importance of having an emergency management plan in place that specifically accounts for the unique needs of communities and their residents. Recognizing that all disasters begin locally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded a contract to BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (BCFS EMD) to deliver a multi-tiered national training program that provides specific, realistic tools to enable states to develop inclusive emergency plans for the “whole community.” “Whole community planning” positions officials to analyze and develop targeted operational plans that serve the various needs of all residents and communities in their jurisdiction.

Planning for the whole community may range from identifying populations that predominantly speak a language other than English, to ensuring access to alternate care facilities for health care centers that are not able to handle a significant medical surge. BCFS EMD’s training will also emphasize the importance of engaging individual community members as well as private sector businesses – ranging from grocery chains to energy companies – to ensure efficient and sufficient mass care efforts.
“Even as additional resources are requested from state or federal governments, the responsibility to answer the immediate initial needs of communities impacted by an emergency will typically always fall on the local community,” said BCFS President and CEO Kevin Dinnin.

“Plans on paper don’t mean anything if they aren’t realistic in what a jurisdiction can do and who they are going to serve,” he continued. “That’s why BCFS EMD’s national trainings will be based on best practices in real world operational responses and experience.” Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas and with offices from coast-to-coast and on four continents, BCFS EMD is one of the top emergency management partners for FEMA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and various states across the nation. The organization is a nationally recognized leader in serving vulnerable populations during disasters, and in 2010, wrote FEMA’s national Guidance for the Integration of Functional Needs Support Services in General Population Shelters.

BCFS’ EMD division provides critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments, as well as private businesses and institutions, before, during and after disasters. The organization has responded to many of the major disasters that have taken place in the last decade in the U.S., as well as some international emergencies, like the earthquake in Haiti.

“Emergency management officials recognize the need for comprehensive local planning. That’s where disasters begin, and local governments become the initial lifeblood of survival,” said Kari Tatro, BCFS Executive Vice President of Emergency Management. “The more preparedness efforts zero in on specifics in their plans – hearing directly from community members and businesses, identifying gaps in services, and locking in contingency plans with vendors – the more resilient they will be for any type of incident.” BCFS EMD’s whole community planning trainings will be rolled out in five phases, spanning over three years. It will be consistent with federal regulations, policies and guidance. By 2015, the entire training program will encompass Train-the-Trainer courses, national webinar presentations, speaker presentations at national and state level conferences, and online independent study courses featured by the FEMA Emergency Management Institute.

BCFS EMD will also produce a pilot curriculum template for inclusion in FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness at its Noble Training Center located in Anniston, Alabama.

For emergency response services 24 hours a day, call 1-800-337-0373


BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (BCFS EMD) provides all hazards preparedness consultation, incident management and full-scale emergency response support to local, state and federal agencies throughout the U.S. In addition to FEMA’s whole community planning contract, BCFS EMD is also currently working with the City of Los Angeles to enhance their emergency management program to account for the whole community. This expertise is bolstered by the agency’s position as a national leader in medical sheltering and – having developed FEMA’s Guidance for the Integration of Functional Needs Support Services in General Population Shelters – is the foremost expert in writing and implementing equitable emergency operations programs that serve the whole community.
BCFS began its work in emergency management during the 1993 Branch Davidian incident in Waco, Texas, providing emergency sheltering for the children caught in the crossfire.

In recent years, BCFS has been part of many of the most high profile incidences experienced in the U.S. During hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Dolly, Gustav, Ike and Alex, BCFS sheltered thousands of survivors of varying ages whose pre-storm conditions ranged from no disabilities to high medical acuities. In 2008, BCFS led incident command for the Texas Department of State Health Services as part of Texas Task Force Ike – the largest mobilization of response resources in history. BCFS has also responded in sheltering and IMT capacities for other hazards, such as widespread wildfires, the outbreak of the H1N1 Flu, and the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) compound incident.

Abroad, BCFS was called upon by the Sri Lankan government to provide emergency support after the devastating 2004 tsunami killed more than 225,000 people. The agency was also made available as a U.S. resource following the recent earthquake in Haiti, eventually deploying to gain command and control of one of the only operating hospitals near Port au Prince.

Members of BCFS EMD’s Incident Management Team (IMT) have responded to every major critical incident in the U.S. in the past 12 years, including 9/11, the H1N1 flu pandemic, and countless hurricanes, tornados, fires, floods, hazardous material spills and earthquakes. Our team consists of medical and mental health experts, disability policy and rights advocates, former fire and police leaders, national emergency planning and training experts, legal professionals, academicians, research and policy professionals, and public health veterans. It also includes former department leaders from FEMA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In addition to response, BCFS has developed the largest Alternate Care Facility (ACF) capacity in the nation outside of the U.S. military. These sites serve as a medical surge capacity for local hospitals, medical shelters, primary triage points, designated community-focused care clinics, or points of distribution for medications or vaccinations during a public health emergency. Building ACF capacity prevents local healthcare systems from being overwhelmed with demand for services during disaster, thereby enhancing states’ ability to respond.

BCFS speaks and conducts trainings regularly at state and national conferences, and serves as a consultant to jurisdictions throughout the nation regarding shelter operations, emergency preparedness and community capacity building.