City of Abilene receiving additional help with tornado recovery and relief effort

KTXS 12| May 27, 2019
By Nicholas Teresky

ABILENE, Texas — The City of Abilene has requested additional assistance in recovering from the tornado that touched down in the city on May 18.

The City of Abilene and 2-1-1 Texas have summoned an Emergency Management – Incident Management Team (IMT) to provide further help with the recovery effort after the city’s tornado on May 18.

Mario Guerra Retires as Director of Response and Recovery

 

SAN ANTONIO — In 2010, Mario Guerra joined the BCFS System family as a member of the Emergency Management Division (EMD) after 35 years of service in the San Antonio Fire Department – a career that began with one water hose and two singed eyebrows.

Upon hearing about his retirement, Kevin Dinnin, President & CEO of the BCFS System, asked if Mario might be interested in further aiding people and communities in need, explaining plans for a new Emergency Management Division (EMD), and how someone with his applied experience would be an asset to build and grow the EMD team. Mario was intrigued by the position and the chance to be a part of something meaningful and lasting. Before he had even officially left his role at SAFD, Mario began his service full time under BCFS Health and Human Services’ EMD.

It’s about legacy. It’s about creating a system for the next person.

When Mario first came on, the EMD branch was composed of five people, Mario included. Today, BCFS’s EMD employs more than 3,500 personnel, each providing critical emergency support in moments of human need on an international scale.

In his eight years of service and experience with EMD, Mario responded to wildfires, hurricanes, and other disasters. He has written and recorded procedures of service and care that span hundreds of pages, each full of information that can instruct future response teams on the lessons learned from his own team’s history in working through some of the most dire moments of human need.

Mario’s efforts were not only about working through people’s worst moments by meeting physical needs, it was also about providing emotional support to those who felt hopeless. In his role with EMD, Mario had the opportunity to serve as a Shelter Manager at some of the sites that provided emergency shelter to children who had made their way to this country alone, without their parents. In many cases, Mario was the first smiling face some of the children had seen in a long time. His positive demeanor gained him a reputation among those he served.

“How are y’all doing?” Mario would ask the children when they came to the site.

“Fine,” they would respond.

“You guys hungry?”

“Yes.”

“Are you tired?”

“Yes.”

“Am I ugly?”

“Yes!”

“What do you mean I’m ugly,” Mario would say, mockingly wounded from the insult he had brought upon himself, the kids laughing boisterously. “You just met me and you’re already telling me I’m ugly!”

Mario wasn’t only the first smiling face the kids would see, he was also often the one to see them off when they went on to their next destination. Before they left the shelter, Mario would hop on the bus with the children and give a heartfelt rendition of “Las Mañanitas,” a traditional Spanish song often sung in celebration.

Looking Back, Moving Ahead

As Mario’s full-time status as EMD’s Director of Response and Recovery comes to an end, he has agreed to serve in a pro re nata (as needed) role with the organization, making for 43 years and counting in a career of service to others. Mario leaves behind a record of policy and instruction that will have a lasting impact, and that will help future EMD professionals better respond in the heat of emergency situations.

“It’s about legacy,” Mario says. “It’s about creating a system for the next person.”

As he plans for the future, Mario is excited to invest more deeply in his family. He was the fifth sibling in a family of six children, and he was the first to get a high school diploma and a college degree. Today, he has a family full of college graduates, with his wife and all their children holding bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Mario hopes his seven grandchildren can continue to build on the success his family has discovered so far.

In addition to loving his family, Mario hopes to catch up on books and documentaries (about the Roosevelts among other things) now that he will have the time to do so. He also wants to do a bit of woodworking and take a few vacations with his wife, like their upcoming trip to Canada and Iceland, filled with baseball games along the way. His wife, Mario proudly states, has been incredibly supportive and patient with him throughout his career of emergency response.

“I’ve been fortunate enough – blessed – to have seen how things kind of tie together, bringing people back full circle to where they were before disaster hit,” Mario says.

“Everything we do is to help people. This whole agency is meant to do that.”

 

“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 Ready.gov/September. And for more details on BCFS EMD, visit BCFSEMD.org.

BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division Appoints Resource Director to Ensure Readiness

BCFS Names Davenport Director of Warehouse, Fleet and Technology Resources

Photo: Davenport

BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (BCFS EMD) has named William Davenport its Director of Warehouse, Fleet and Technology Resources. As a national partner of local, state and federal agencies during times of emergency, it is critical that BCFS EMD have impeccable inventorying and inspection of resources, as well as maintenance of an extensive vehicle fleet that includes multiple 18-wheeler mobile command platforms, fire engines, mobile medical clinics, box trucks, generators and more, all ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.

Davenport has spent his career on the front lines of disaster response. He served more than 35 years with the San Antonio Fire Department in roles that included firefighting, technical rescue, communications, and technical services. He joined BCFS EMD in 2008 and has filled vital roles on the organization’s incident management team during several major responses, ensuring continuity of communications technology, fleet readiness and logistical execution. He has also overseen the integration of BCFS EMD’s communications technology with a number of local and state-run communications equipment, ensuring immediate interoperability when BCFS EMD is tasked to support government responses.
“Bill is always one of the first responders to report for duty in the morning, and oftentimes one of the last to leave,” said Kari Tatro, EVP/COO – Administration, Education & Emergency Operations . “His dedication is undeniable, and his thoroughness and ability to move fast makes him an important member of our emergency management team.”
For more information about BCFS EMD, visit BCFSEMD.org.
# # #

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.

The 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season Begins

The 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1-November 30. While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a “below-normal” season, it is critical for individuals, families and communities in areas vulnerable to storms to be prepared.

The 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1-November 30. While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a “below-normal” season, it is critical for individuals, families and communities in areas vulnerable to storms to be prepared.

BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (BCFS EMD) specializes in emergency management, incident management, disaster medical response, mass care, medical sheltering and planning for vulnerable populations. When disaster strikes, our Incident Management Team can have boots on the ground anywhere in the U.S. within 48 hours. BCFS EMD personnel have responded to every major critical incident in the U.S. in the past 12 years, including several hurricanes, the 9/11 Terrorist Attack, the H1N1 flu pandemic and a number of tornados, fires, floods, hazardous material spills and earthquakes.

BCFS Receives National Contract to Deploy Case Management Teams During Disasters

BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division receives national contract to deploy case management teams to disaster-affected states, tribes and territories

BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (BCFS EMD) was contracted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response (OHSEPR) to provide immediate disaster case management services to any state, tribe, and territories in the U.S. affected by a natural or man-made disaster – like a hurricane, earthquake, terrorist attack or hazardous materials incident.
BCFS EMD will develop a national turnkey capability to rapidly deploy teams to provide immediate disaster case management services as tasked by ACF. If a disaster strikes, a team of trained disaster case managers and emergency responders can be deployed to the disaster site within 72-hours to begin meeting the needs of survivors and those impacted by the disaster. ACF deploys its Immediate Disaster Case Management Program when activated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). ACF IDCM is one alternative available to FEMA for the Federal Disaster Case Management Program.
The BCFS Disaster Case Management Team (DCMT) will include case managers, community coordination specialists, logistics specialists, database specialists, and financial coordinators. Teams will be totally self-sufficient and supported by the EMD Incident Management Team (IMT) with full operational, logistical and planning capability. The BCFS teams will provide staffing for ACF’s IDCM missions as directed by OHSEPR.
The DCMT will identify survivors’ most critical needs including food, clothing, shelter, medical care, immediate mental health needs; and secondary needs including child care, temporary housing, financial aid, prescriptions, transportation, utilities, and physical safety and security.
“We believe the effective development of deployable disaster case management resources by the federal government fills a critical role in national preparedness and recovery,” says Kari Tatro, BCFS’ Executive Vice President for Emergency Management Operations. “We are positioned to support the development of a truly unique, national infrastructure that is reflective of our existing deployment model for IMT and Disaster Medical Staffing Teams (DMST).”
BCFS EMD is highly experienced in deploying hundreds of staff for extended periods of response and recovery. Currently BCFS EMD maintains multiple deployable teams with various disciplines, including over 350 case managers, an all-hazards IMT and DMSTs.
The one-year contract includes four optional annual renewal years by OHSEPR.
BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations that operates over 74 different programs on a daily basis, covering a range of health and human services.
“Our organizational capacity in residential, community-based and emergency management services allows us to leverage the expertise and resources of our divisions during catastrophic incidents,” says Thelma Gutierrez, BCFS EMD Program Manager.
BCFS has extensive experience with emergency operations’ coordination and plan development through numerous responses to incidents, including the Branch Davidian Incident; Southeast Asia Tsunami; Hurricanes Emily, Katrina, Rita, Dean, Dolly, Gustav, Ike and Alex; Haiti Earthquake; Eagle Pass Tornado; FLDS Event; Texas Wildfire Response; and H1N1 Flu.
In 2012 and again in 2014, BCFS was tasked by ACF’s Office of Refugee Resettlement with providing turn-key emergency sheltering, including disaster case management services, to thousands of youth when an unprecedented number of unaccompanied, undocumented youth entered the United States. BCFS Health and Human Services provided comprehensive services – including case management, educational, medical, and recreation – for several thousand children.
BCFS HHS has remained at the forefront of every major disaster affecting Texas since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when BCFS HHS, at the request of the State of Texas, sheltered over 1,700 medical evacuees for approximately 8 weeks.
BCFS Health and Human Services has become a trusted partner of local, state and national organizations to provide comprehensive planning, management and response for disasters. For more information about BCFS’ Emergency Management Division, visit www.BCFSEMD.org.

AmeriCares Partners with BCFS Health and Human Services to Pre-Position Relief Supplies for Texans with Disabilities

Supplies are on-hand for the height of hurricane season

AmeriCares and BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (BCFS EMD) have pre-positioned equipment and relief supplies for Texans with disabilities displaced by disasters. The equipment can be readily deployed to support resource requests for up to five Texas Disaster District regions. The pre-positioned supplies include nearly $50,000 worth of equipment including wheelchairs, canes, cots, shower chairs and other safety equipment BCFS EMD can rapidly deploy at the request of local and state agencies. The supplies will be stored in San Antonio and distributed to regions across the state after hurricanes, floods, wildfires and other emergencies.

AmeriCares, the global health and disaster relief organization, selected Texas for the preparedness program because it is one of the most disaster-prone states. BCFS EMD provides critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments, as well as private businesses and institutions, before, during and after disasters. In Texas, BCFS EMD is a top partner for operating and supplying shelters for residents displaced by storms and other emergencies.

“AmeriCares is dedicated to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable disaster survivors,” said AmeriCares Vice President of Emergency Response Garrett Ingoglia. “By pre-positioning equipment and supplies with our partner BCFS, we are ensuring emergency shelters across Texas will have the medical equipment and supplies elderly and disabled survivors most frequently need.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has designated September National Disaster Preparedness Month to encourage Americans to prepare for all type of emergencies, from natural disasters and major storms to terrorist attacks.

“Pre-staging emergency assets and having partnerships in place prior to an incident are best practices that ensure jurisdictions have the tools necessary to save lives when disaster strikes,” said Kari Tatro, BCFS Executive Vice President of Emergency Management. “With help from AmeriCares, we are creating a national model for preparedness that can – and should – be replicated in states and regions across the country.”

BCFS EMD is part of a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations operated by BCFS. BCFS EMD partners with FEMA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and various states and municipalities across the nation. The organization is a nationally recognized leader in serving vulnerable populations during disasters, and developed the guidance document and curriculum for FEMA’s national Guidance for the Integration of Functional Needs Support Services in General Population Shelters.

AmeriCares has been aiding survivors of natural disasters, political conflict and extreme poverty around the world for more than 30 years, saving lives and restoring health and hope. AmeriCares Emergency Response program helps communities and health care facilities worldwide prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. The organization delivers medicines and relief supplies, awards funding to local organizations assisting the recovery and helps health care providers prepare for future emergencies. AmeriCares emergency response experts responded to the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami, and most recently, Hurricane Sandy in the northeast.

AmeriCares and BCFS EMD first partnered in 2011 when AmeriCares awarded the agency a grant to develop protocols and procedures for medical shelters, build capacity for alternate care sites, and develop and deliver disaster medical training courses.


About AmeriCares

AmeriCares is a nonprofit global health and disaster relief organization that delivers medicines, medical supplies and aid to people in need around the world and across the United States. Since it was established in 1982, AmeriCares has distributed more than $11 billion in humanitarian aid to 164 countries. For more information, visit americares.org

About BCFS EMD

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. 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. Its Incident Management Team members 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. For more information, visit www.BCFSEMD.org. Or for emergency response services 24-hours a day, call 1 (800) 337-0373.

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 www.BCFS.net/EMD.

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

ABOUT BCFS EMD

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.