Wednesday
Feb012017

VOL. 17, NO. 1 - FEBRUARY, 2017

Mark Your Calendar

  • Feb 04: Team Meeting
  • Mar 01-31: On-Call
  • May 20: Team Meeting
  • Jun 01-30: On-Call
  • Aug 19: Team Meeting
  • Sep 01-30: On-Call
  • Sep 05-09: Adv DMAT FTX
  • Nov 04: Team Meeting
  • Dec 01-31: On-Call
  • Dec 02: Holiday Party

Monthly Recap

Commander's Corner - Updates from the Commander, & many opportunities!
Training News - Upcoming team meeting, and an MCI drill

Wednesday
Feb012017

Commander's Corner

David Lipin - Unit Commander

Hello teammates, and welcome to 2017! I just got back from a 4-week vacation across the South Pacific, and have a lot of information to pass along. I'll try to get to as much of it as I can here, but I'm not done processing all of my email backlog so I'm sure there will be more on Saturday.

Feb 4 Team Meeting

Our first meeting of 2017 will be this Saturday, Feb 4th. Details are in Training News below. Don't forget that we're not wearing team uniforms (blouses)!

New Administration

As I mentioned last month, we are beginning a new administration, and it will take time for us to get revised "marching orders". Very little has trickled down thus far, as we still do not have a Secretary for Health & Human Services (but might very soon). So I continue to urge patience and a "business as usual" approach for now. I'll have additional information on Saturday.

Officer Position Changes

Along with a new administration, we are making some command staff changes of our own! Joe Telles is moving into the Ops Chief role, and Hunter is taking over as Logs Chief. In addition, Brian and Ari are swapping CMO and Deputy CMO roles, so Ari will now take the lead as our Chief Medical Officer.

We have a number of vacant command staff positions, but for the moment we are holding off on filling them because of the hiring situation and because we don't want to "penalize" anyone by moving them from a medical role into a non-medical role (which means they can no longer treat patients, which is where our primary need is at the moment).

When you see Joe, Hunter and Ari, please welcome them to their new roles!

Sign-ups Posted

We have posted sign-ups for our first on-call of 2017 (March), and availability information is due from all federal members by this Sunday, Feb 5th. This gives us time to request backfill as needed from other teams. So we need to hear from all federal members, available or not, by then.

We have also posted sign-ups for our Advanced DMAT field training exercise in Anniston in Sep. There's still room to sign up, as we're taking a full team with us. Click on the Event Signups link in the Member's Area for details and to sign up. This looks to be a fun "road trip" for the team, and we get to help establish precedent for the rest of the system. We're closing sign-ups in early Mar to give people plenty of time to get ready.

You can also sign up for Apr and May backfill now, to support other teams.

If you're interested in being a JPATS responder, the training for that takes place in Sacramento from Jul 31 - Aug 04. We get to send one individual from our team, so email me directly if you're interested (and haven't emailed me already).

And finally, the Cache Review working group will be meeting soon in Sacramento. This group will look into updating and overhauling the packaging of the DMAT cache. Travel-in date will be Mar 26, the work will be conducted Mar 27-31, and people will return home on Apr 01. We've been asked to contribute one RN to this group for this work session. The person must have been an RN with NDMS for at least 5 years, and deployed on at least 1 major mission (e.g., Haiti, Sandy, Katrina, etc.). If you're interested and qualified, please let me know by Feb 10th.

New NDMS Slogan

The current NDMS slogan (Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times) was last updated in the aftermath of 9/11 and is showing its age. So the marketing folks at HQ have decided that it's time for a new one, and there's a Division-wide competition for it! The winner will receive a Certificate of Accomplishment, an ASPR coin, and will be recognized across the Division with an opportunity to write a few paragraphs as to why they joined NDMS (to be published in NDMS literature and to promote NDMS). The slogan must be:

  • Representative of the entire Division (e.g., not specific to one type of team)
  • Relate to the uniqueness of our strength -- OUR PEOPLE
  • Use appropriate language (professional, yet with common appeal)
  • Not be a copy from something/somebody else
  • Short and concise

Submit your idea(s) for a slogan to NDMSSupport@hhs.gov with the heading "NDMS Slogan - <Your Last Name>" by Feb 17th. Entries will be narrowed by OEM leadership, and the Team Leaders and Deputy Team Leaders will make the final selection when we meet in Chicago in March.

End of Fax, Email and Snail-mail Information Submittal

We are no longer accepting forms and other information from members via our fax line or email (the forms email address) methods, or by mailing us a hardcopy. For information security purposes, we are using the Upload Document link on the team website. If you submit by those methods, we'll send you a gentle reminder and then shred/ignore the information that you sent!

That's it for me this month. Looking forward to seeing most of you on Saturday!

Wednesday
Feb012017

Training News

Feb 4th Meeting
Our next team training will take place on Sat Feb 4 at the usual time and place (see the Calendar on the team's home page). This will not be a federal team meeting, for complicated reasons that I'll explain at the meeting. However, it is covered by the CA equivalent of USERRA for CDMSA members; let David Lipin know if you need information about that.

Here's a peek at the agenda:

General Member Tract:

  • Ventilator Operations from Jim Burr
  • Sepsis and Shock from Ari Stern
  • Hospital Evacuation Planning from Brandon Bond
  • And our usual Electronic Medical Records and Equipment Lab hands-on opportunities

New Member Tract:

  • Personal Gear Orientation by Jim Duarte
  • Team Requirements & Mission Documents by Crystal Wright
  • Logistics & Basecamp Overview by Randall Hunter

Look for the agenda and meeting documents to be published under Training Documents (link on the right in the Members Area) later this week.

And of course bring your 25 lb go bag and comfortable shoes to join us on our lunch walk! We will formally record results at this meeting. Participation is still optional; you must have a formally-recorded result by the end of Sep 2017, so you'll have 2 more meetings in which to do this. However, we will give rostering priority to those that have completed this task (and after Sep of next year you will be non-deployable until completing this assessment).

For those of you who successfully completed the walk last time, we strongly encourage you to join in on the walk this time as well. It's not only good exercise, but we'd like to show strong support for team members who are doing it for the first time. Feel free to leave your packs behind though if you'd like, and just enjoy the walk!

ICS-300 and -400
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is sponsoring ICS-300 and ICS-400 classes provided by the Industrial Emergency Council. ICS-300 will be taught Feb 15-17, 0700-1600 hrs, and has prerequisites of IS-100, IS-200 and IS-700 (all available online through FEMA, and required already of all CA-6 members). ICS-400 will be taught Feb 21-22, 0700-1600 hrs, and has prerequisites of ICS-300 as well as IS-800 (also available online through FEMA, and also already required of all CA-6 members). Both courses will be taught at 700 Pennsylvania Ave, Building D, Training Room 106 in San Francisco. Contact David Lipin if you're interested.

Disaster Management for Electric Power Systems
San Francisco Department of Emergency Management and CalOES are hosting TEEX's Disaster Management for Electric Power Systems course on Feb 23-24, 0800-1600 hrs. Contact David Lipin if you're interested in this course.

Feb 18th Aeromedical Considerations (Didactic + Field)
CA-11 has extended an offer to our members to attend an Aeromedical Evacuation training that they are conducting on Feb 18 from 1100 to approximately 1500 hrs. The first hour will be didactic at CA EMSA HQ in Rancho Cordova (near Sacramento), covering aircraft safety, LZ setup and patient loading. Then a break for lunch, after which everyone will drive over to Mather Field where everyone will get to interact with the crews and aircraft from CHP, Sac County Sheriff, CA National Guard and both of the REACH airframes. Please contact David Lipin if you are interested in attending this (non-paid) training.

Apr 15th MCI Drill
John Brown has asked for our help in conducting an MCI TTX/FTX for for the Northeast Medical Services held at one of their SF clinics on Apr 15th. It will involve doctors, nurses, medical assistants, mental health and other treating clinicians. They typically conduct an hour or so tabletop exericise (TTX) for the clinic leadership, then an hour or so of hands-on training on wound care and splinting, followed by a 1.5 to 2 hour MCI exercise using stuffed animals. They could use help with the hands-on instruction (e.g., providers with experience in splinting/wound care/psychological first aid) and then coaching/observing/evaluating during the hands-on MCI. They'll provide snacks and coffee, but everyone is bringing/buying their own lunches to keep costs down (they might start just after lunch this year; timing still tbd). If you are interested in volunteering, contact John Brown or David Lipin.

Thursday
Dec012016

VOL. 16, NO. 9 - DECEMBER, 2016 - JANUARY, 2017

Mark Your Calendar

  • Dec 03: Holiday Party

    2017
  • Feb 04: Team Meeting
  • Mar 01-31: On-Call
  • May 20: Team Meeting
  • Jun 01-30: On-Call
  • Aug 19: Team Meeting
  • Sep 01-30: On-Call
  • Sep 05-09: Adv DMAT FTX
  • Nov 04: Team Meeting
  • Dec 01-31: On-Call
  • Dec 02: Holiday Party

Monthly Recap

Commander's Corner - Updates from the Commander
Goodbye and Thank You - Annie is retiring from the team
Holiday Party! - Everyone's invited! Details here.

Thursday
Dec012016

Commander's Corner

David Lipin - Unit Commander

Hello teammates, and Happy Holidays! This is our traditional, combined December/January newsletter edition so that we can give everyone a break over the holidays.

I don't have much in the way of updates, but will fill you in on what I've got.

New Administration

First off, we have a new, incoming administration starting in mid-January next year. It will take a while for changes in leadership, policies and practices to "trickle down" to our level, so we'll all need to be patient to see the priorities of the new administration.

There will be teams at the Inauguration, but Feb and Mar on-call teams were excluded from participating in order to keep them ready for their respective on-call months. So the load falls primarily on the Jan on-call teams, with backfill from Nov and Dec on-call teams.

Sign-ups Posted

We have posted sign-ups for our Advanced DMAT field training exercise in Anniston in Sep. Click on the Event Signups link in the Member's Area for details and to sign up. This looks to be a fun "road trip" for the team, and we get to help establish precedent for the rest of the system. We're closing sign-ups in early Mar to give people plenty of time to get ready.

Our next on-call is Mar '17, so we'll post sign-ups for that on Feb 25th.

Don't forget that you can sign up for backfill for Jan and Feb! Those teams will be looking for backfill in early Dec and early Jan.

And if you're interested in being a JPATS responder, the training for that takes place in Sacramento from Jul 31 - Aug 04. We get to send one individual from our team, so email me directly if you're interested (and haven't emailed me already).

2017 Schedule

Please note our 2017 schedule, posted above. Put us on your calendar. Or better yet, subscribe to the CA-6 Calendar by going to the Calendar link on our website, then clicking the blue "+" button on the calendar!

Fitness Program

I wanted to thank everyone that participated in the fitness walk at the last meeting. We had a great turn-out! Those of you who completed the Moderate walk are done for a while (at least a year; we're not sure how often it needs to be repeated). Those that completed the Light walk or were unable to participate are encouraged to try again at our Feb meeting. We'll just keep doing it until we get everyone through, so no rush if you're not ready. But now's a good time to start working on it if you don't think you're quite up to it!

End of Fax, Email and Snail-mail Information Submittal

The end of this calendar year will mark the end of us accepting forms and other information from members via our fax line or email (the forms email address) methods, or by mailing us a hardcopy. For information security purposes, we are using the Upload Document link on the team website. If you haven't figured out how to do that yet, you've got one month left!

That's it for me this month. I hope to see many of you at the team holiday gathering this Saturday. Happy Holidays and have a safe New Year!

Thursday
Dec012016

Goodbye, and Thank You!

Annie Bustin - Operations Section Chief, Chief Nursing Officer

[From the editor: Annie submitted this to update people on her pending retirement from CA-6. Feel free to come say goodbye in-person at the holiday party!]

To my clanspersons,

I feel the hole, the void, the rupture of my resignation already and it's not even effective until the 31st! What can you say about a group of people who knowingly and willingly walked through the gates of hell and back with you? And what can you say about those very people who held their breaths waiting for another chance to do it again? Outsiders would call us crazy, adrenalin junkies, outrageous and probably tell us that we need therapy. Well, we do! Many of us have had therapy because of our 'hellish' days on deployments. But I would do it again and again if I was able to.

We've laughed together, cried together, bitched up a storm together, whined, drank, swore and worked really well together aside from the fact that those who will not be named have no clue about how unmistakably astounding and unparalleled you all are. Thank you. For all of it. Good, bad and downright ugly. For the chumminess, the fights, the smelliness of long deployments, the heartbreaking truths that were branded in our memories, the doubts and the without a doubts. It's been an honor. I will watch the seasonal hurricane reports and smile knowing that you too are watching them. You will forever be heroes.

Stay safe. Do well. Be kind.

"Be as you wish to seem."

With admiration,

Annie Bustin

Thursday
Dec012016

Holiday Party!

Our annual Holiday Party is Saturday, Dec 3rd, 6p-10p at Dave Lipin's house, 101 Dale Ave in San Carlos. This year we return to our traditional pot luck. The team will provide beverages and utensils, so bring an appetizer, main dish or dessert for 6-8 people, and come enjoy a relaxing few hours with your fellow team members! If the weather's decent, we can even light up the fire pit and outdoor heating.

Significant others and families are of course welcome, as are all of our disaster response partners and their families. We won't see each other again until February, so please come for one last "disaster junky fix" for 2016!

Tuesday
Nov012016

VOL. 16, NO. 8 - NOVEMBER, 2016

Mark Your Calendar

  • Nov 05: Team Meeting
  • Dec 03: Holiday Party

    2017
  • Feb 04: Team Meeting
  • Mar 01-31: On-Call
  • May 20: Team Meeting
  • Jun 01-30: On-Call
  • Aug 19: Team Meeting
  • Sep 01-30: On-Call
  • Sep 05-09: Adv DMAT FTX
  • Nov 04: Team Meeting
  • Dec 01-31: On-Call
  • Dec 02: Holiday Party

Monthly Recap

Commander's Corner - Updates from the Commander
Training News - Info on our Nov meeting, plus a few more opportunities
Holiday Party! - Everyone's invited! Details here.
Managing Anxiety during Advisories and Alerts - Useful tips!
App Review - The FEMA Mobile App for disasters

Tuesday
Nov012016

Commander's Corner

David Lipin - Unit Commander

Hello everyone, and welcome to November. We have finished our final on-call of the year (more on that below), which also wraps up the end of our 3-year on-call rotation cycle. We now get a break until March of next year! If that's too long for you, you can always sign up for backfill to help out other teams in the interim (click on Backfill Signup under Event Signups in the Members Area of the website). But for me, I'm looking forward to some down time.

I've got a bunch of stuff to catch everyone up on this month, so I'll just jump right in. More items, and more details on these items, at our upcoming team meeting. Speaking of which:

Nov 5 Team Meeting

Details about our upcoming meeting/training are in Training News below. Also, read further about the fitness walk. And don't forget that we've changed our uniform policy -- no BDU blouses!

2017 Schedule

Our 2017 schedule is posted above, with both on-call months and meeting dates. Additionally, you'll notice an Advanced DMAT FTX training in September. This is tentative (and was just announced), and is the pilot year of a new NDMS national-level training program at Anniston. We are scheduled to take a full team to AL for this full-scale operational exercise. It's not didactic training; it's full-on, full-scale training where we'll set up the BoO and maintain 24x7 operations! They're using CA-6 as one of the teams to help develop this training.

NDMS Portal Project

The NDMS Portal Project marches on. Some members have successfully gotten in, but others are still waiting for the next "enrollment push". One noteworthy item: this is a secure portal, which means that it requires you to change your password every 60 days. There's a bit of a "gotcha" here, as not only do you have to change your password every 60 days (you'll receive email reminders), but after you change your password you must log into the Portal using your new password. If you don't do that, then your account will be suspended and you'll need to work through the Helpdesk to get it reinstated. As you might suspect, it's easier to avoid the Helpdesk route if you can!

Hurricane Matthew Alert

I've got a lot of details to discuss regarding our recent Hurricane Matthew Alert experience, but most of them I'll save for an in-depth discussion at the team meeting.

I'd like to encourage everyone to read Katie's article below; I found it particularly helpful and I think you will as well. If you think about it, most all of the steps that she discusses can be done well ahead of time. It's probably a good idea to do them a few days before each on-call month, just to get them out of the way and give yourself some peace of mind. But when we notch it up to Advisory or Alert, I always go through that list again with the particulars of the mission in mind (e.g., after reading the safety info, thinking about the weather conditions, etc), just to reassure myself that I'm ready. Do I still want the same sleeping bag? Maybe some extra snacks because I don't particularly like the food in a certain region (or enjoy eating MREs)?

One of the things that she mentions is avoiding asking questions of the command staff unless it's really important. Another way of saying this is that we encourage each of our members to be as independent and self-sufficient as possible, and to work out as many of your personal details as you can ahead of time. If you've prepared appropriately, then there's really nothing that you should need to ask of the command staff. Use the normal resources for keeping the team informed: for example, you can update your availability using the On-Call Signup page. Not interacting personally with the command staff at crunch times like these is really helpful, because they have additional duties on top of everything that everyone else is going through.

We were on Alert for an extended period, longer than we've ever been. In fact, it's likely an NDMS record! This "sitting on the bubble" caused quite a bit of heartache and brain-wracking, as members had to balance their personal and DMAT lives. Many of you had some difficult decisions to make. Should you cancel your vacation? Should you go on that business trip, even though it means you'll have a delayed response time? Often, we observe that members schedule a vacation during an on-call month thinking "I'm willing to cancel it if we deploy", or "I'll leave my gear with another team member and deploy from my vacation location", but then they don't think about "what if the team might deploy but isn't committed yet?" Are you willing to cancel your vacation if we're on Alert? You may be tempted to ask one of the team officers if they have additional information or can help you with decisions like this. Be assured, there's no additional information that can help! You should make the best decision you can for your situation. Better yet, think about this situation (and discuss it with your family or others that could be impacted) before you sign up for on-call. If you decide to schedule a vacation, think about what your personal go/no-go date and boundary cases are going to be: will you be deployable on the day you are flying to/from your vacation location? will you be willing to cancel your vacation if we're on Alert the day before you depart on vacation? And so on. Personally, I hate making those decisions because I find them "lose-lose", so I just avoid scheduling anything during on-call months.

One of the challenges that the team faced during this extended Alert period was roster stability. We had to maintain a "wheels-up in 8 hours" roster for several weeks, and changes in people's availability caused us to change the roster frequently, sometimes multiple times per day. Some of these changes were unavoidable (e.g., someone gets injured), others were avoidable (e.g., a member's availability had changed since initial sign-up in Sep, but they forgot to update it on the website), and yet others were in the grey area (e.g., the "vacation" topic from above). We understand that "life happens"; we need our members to understand that the team is obligated to meet its service requirements even if individual members have availability changes. We prioritize members who make themselves available for the entire month (and even backfill members who make themselves available for the entire month) over members who have partial availability during the month. We have also decided to impose a 14-day "penalty" on any member that makes themselves available and then withdraws that availability when the team is placed in Advisory, Alert or Activation status; just as a member gets "credited" for each day of availability during On-Call, and bonus "credit" if the member is actually activated, the member will now be "debited" 14 days if they remove themselves from availability during these peak-activity periods. We hope that this will encourage members to think more about their personal situation as it relates to the team, and give the team more notice regarding availability changes. This will greatly improve our rostering ability, and decrease our workload during these hectic periods.

Much more discussion at the upcoming meeting.

Haiti 2017

The non-profit Haiti medical outreach program is continuing, and even expanding, in 2017. The work is even more important in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, because the areas that we serve were hit hard by the storm. 2017 dates are as follows:

  • Jan 28 - Feb 05: Leon
  • Feb 04 - Feb 12: Leon
  • Apr 22 - Apr 30: Castillon
  • Jun 03 - Jun 11: Leon
  • Jun 10 - Jun 18: Leon
  • Oct 14 - Oct 22: Leon (tentative)
  • Oct 21 - Oct 29: Castillon
  • Oct 21 - Oct 29: Abricot

These are all small teams, approximately 6-10 members with mixed skill sets. It's hard work, but very rewarding. If you're interested, contact me for details.

Fitness Program

We've been "warming up" to the fitness program for the last year or so with our pre-lunch walks at our team meetings, but this meeting (weather-permitting) will be the first time we formally measure people . As a reminder:

  • Light duty: walk 1 mile in 15 minutes without a pack. This is suitable for limited deployment environments with no unknown hazards (example, rotating into a pre-established BoO on level ground, providing care at a medical evacuation shelter). Unlikely that you could be deployed on a first-in assignment.
  • Moderate duty: walk 2 miles in 30 minutes carrying a 25-lb pack. This is suitable for most first-in deployments for typical DMAT members, and the standard that we are targeting.
  • Arduous duty: walk 3 miles in 45 minutes carrying a 45-pound pack. This is the standard for people expected to have a lot of physical activity during a deployment, such as logistics personnel.

You may wear comfortable footwear for the test, but we encourage you to wear your boots since that's what you'll be wearing on a deployment (where it counts)! This is a walking test, no jogging or running permitted. To succeed, you must finish in the allotted time without jogging or running, and be able to immediately resume normal activities (i.e., don't need a rest break, not out of breath). Team members must meet the Moderate duty criteria to be considered deployable for a first-in (unknown-type) mission, but Light duty is sufficient for certain known mission types.

This is still optional. If you are not healthy enough to participate, then don't participate! You have until our Aug 2017 meeting to complete the test. We will conduct Light and Moderate duty tests at each team meeting (weather permitting), and some national-level training (such as Anniston) may also conduct these tests. Arduous duty tests will be conducted by the Logistics Section at separate events.

Medical/Health Reporting

Most everyone on the team experienced the new national-level medical/health reporting system during our Hurricane Matthew Alert. Those that made it through and were reviewed will now only need to provide an update (which could be as simple as clicking Submit if your health status has not changed), but members who did not complete it will have an opportunity in the future to get this done. It is now required prior to any deployment; we cannot roster you unless you've completed this.

End of Fax, Email and Snail-mail Information Submittal

The end of this calendar year will mark the end of us accepting forms and other information from members via our fax line or email (the forms email address) methods, or by mailing us a hardcopy. For information security purposes, we are using the Upload Document link on the team website. If you haven't figured out how to do that yet, you've got two months left!

That's it for me this month. I'm now switching over to working on November status reports, so you'll know what to focus on for the November meeting. See you then!

Tuesday
Nov012016

Training News

Nov 5th Meeting
Our next team training will take place on Sat, Nov 5 at the usual time and place (see the Calendar on the team's home page). If you need a USERRA letter, contact Crystal Wright.

Here's a peek at the agenda:

General Member Tract:

  • Safety Updates from Brandon Bond
  • Death, Dying and Expectant Care from Lynn Farizell and Aileen Hayes
  • World Trade Center Mission Review from Dave Lipin (it's the 15-year anniversary of our mission)
  • Admin Updates make-up session from Crystal Wright
  • And our usual Electronic Medical Records and Equipment Lab hands-on opportunities

New Member Tract:

  • Safety/Security Overview (2 hrs) by Brandon Bond and Vinnie Mata
  • Disaster Mental Health by Katie Amatruda

Look for the agenda and meeting documents to be published under Training Documents (link on the right in the Members Area) late this week.

And of course bring your 25 lb go bag and comfortable shoes to join us on our lunch walk! We will formally record results at this meeting. Participation is still optional; you must have a formally-recorded result by the end of Sep 2017, so you'll have 3 more meetings in which to do this. However, we will give rostering priority to those that have completed this task (and after Sep of next year you will be non-deployable until completing this assessment).

And a message from our Fremont Fire Dept hosts: to start the day off right, Fremont Fire is hosting a pancake breakfast nearby at Station 9 (39609 Stevenson Pl). It starts at 0700 hrs, and a $5 donation gets you pancakes, eggs, sausage, coffee and orange juice prepared by Fremont firefighters! There will also be a fire safety trailer, auto extrication demo and other Fire Prevention Week activities. Proceeds go to the Fremont Fire volunteer Rehab Team and Fremont Fire Explorers Post 173. Special thanks to IHOP and Starbucks for their donation.

Tuesday
Nov012016

Holiday Party!

Our annual Holiday Party is Saturday, Dec 3rd, 6p-10p at Dave Lipin's house, 101 Dale Ave in San Carlos. This year we return to our traditional pot luck. The team will provide beverages and utensils, so bring an appetizer, main dish or dessert for 6-8 people, and come enjoy a relaxing few hours with your fellow team members! If the weather's decent, we can even light up the fire pit and outdoor heating.

Significant others and families are of course welcome, as are all of our disaster response partners and their families. We won't see each other again until February, so please come for one last "disaster junky fix" for 2016!

Tuesday
Nov012016

Managing Anxiety During Advisories and Alerts

Katie Amatruda - PsyD, MFT, BCETS

During Hurricane Matthew, we were once again, in "hurry up and wait" mode, as we were placed into ADVISORY, and then ALERT status (and stayed there for a long time).

What does this mean? You can always click on our status on the website, and you will be taken to the page that explains our status.

ADVISORY
During Advisory, we are monitoring a particular event, but this does not imply a change in expected deployment time or any preparatory work, other than watching for updates about that event.

These are some things to do at this time:

1. Breathe - a lot!

2. Check that you have left your paperwork organized for your significant others. Leave a list of passwords, location of your will and safety deposit box key, etc. Pay any upcoming bills and return library books. Make arrangements for your children (and pets).

3. Recheck your gear. Perhaps review our Personal Gear Inspection Form and Personal Gear and Uniforms page to double-check that you are ready if we are deployed.

4. Use this time to check your meds (if any), get any snacks that you want to bring, get any climate specific gear (e.g., mosquito repellant and a net) if you don't have these items. And go hit up an ATM for a wad of cash. We suggest at least $300 in mixed denominations.

5. Make a list of things you can't pack now, but want to bring, such as driver's license, phone chargers, meds, etc. Then, if we go, you can gather them up and check them off the list.

6. Make copies of your current medical license and certifications, driver's license, passport, vaccination records, etc.

7. Remember that we ALL work for Logistics once the mission begins, so be ready to move gear, set up tents, etc. This is why we keep our work gloves in the backpack. Get your head in the game!

8. Get your brain into "situational awareness" mode - read the safety material that gets posted (if any), remember you'll stick with your squad when moving from point to point (or are in staging), you'll have a buddy to stick with and keep an eye on, and when we're operational you'll have a supervisor to check in with for everything (even going to the porta-potty).

9. Feel free to reach out via the Chatter forum or to any of us individually if you have questions or concerns. You can use the Contact Us links at the top of the website (when you're logged in, you'll see the entire organizational chart here).

10. Now is a good time to let your family, work and friends know that a deployment is possible. If you are new to the Team, and haven't acquainted your employer with USERRA, do this now. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) provides employment protection for personnel who are deployed on a mission or for training. Additional information is available on our Employer Support page.

ALERT
When we are on Alert, it means we are standing by for possible deployment to a specific event or incident, and subject to mobilization and deployment, in as little as 4 hours. Some personnel have specific duties to perform (typically command staff but also a few others, and they're usually informed when "it's time" for these duties), but most personnel may go about their routines providing that they are prepared to arrive at a designated airport or other point of departure within 4 hours.

Please don't email team command staff (especially Dave or Crystal) unless they request it, or it is truly necessary. They are no doubt scrambling at this point!

Once we are in Alert, things to do NOW include:

1. Check the time limit; for Matthew it was an 8-hour recall, but it can be as little as 4 hours. "Recall time" means how long until wheels-up – the time from when Dave gets notified until the time that your airplane departs from the gate. What does this mean? Generally, if you're going to work, bring your gear with you unless you know you will have time to get home. Factor in how long it will take you to get to the airport, park, go through security, etc.

Dave Lipin said it best:

Under USERRA, your responsibility is to provide as much advance notice as possible. This includes informing your employer ahead of time of your participation in a USERRA-covered program, and then giving them notice as soon as possible of pending deployment. You do not need to provide written deployment orders until you return, you do not need their permission to depart work once you are activated. We will provide as much advance notice as possible to allow an effective hand-off, and would hope that you would take a reasonable amount of time to do that.

When we are under 8-hour notice, that means we could be asked to be wheels-up in 8 hours. So subtract 1.5 hours for airport check-in and security, subtract whatever your commute time to the airport is, subtract time if you need to return home to get your gear (hopefully you're carrying it with you at this point), etc. Whatever's left is time that you can spend at work doing a hand-off. Probably no more than an hour. Be flexible, but understand that once you have been federalized, you belong to the US Government, not to your employer. So be nice but don't dally!

2. Keep checking your texts and emails. If your work does not allow you to carry a cell phone, either get permission to leave it on vibrate in your pocket, or give your phone to a supervisor, because you may get a text like "CA-6: please see your email for a RESPONSE REQUIRED message." Do not ignore this message – Crystal and Dave have enough to do without chasing you down.

Check your email; there will be a message from the team notification system stating something like:

1. Confirm your availability as soon as possible by filling out the Confirm Availability form (under Event Signups), using Response Code HM06C.

2. By 2100 hrs this evening, complete the health fitness form at www.ca6dmat.org/health-fitness if you have not done so within the last 12 hours.

Do this ASAP! Follow all the instructions in the emails you get! Pay attention to that Response Code. Its purpose is to acknowledge that you have received that particular message. You might receive several of these over time with different Response Codes; that's because there is additional information that you need to know, and the team needs to know that you received it. When you don't respond with the specific Response Code, it means that someone on the team is going to have to spend time calling you (or worse, they'll just take you off the roster because they don't have time to call you!).

3. Monitor the website. Did you know that you can subscribe to certain pages of the website? You can get Hot News, the Chatter Forum, and In the News delivered to your email every time there is a new posting. Scroll back to the July 2015 Newsletter for instructions. Or click on the Using the Site link in the Members area.

4. Are you still breathing? Breathe - a lot!

5. Try to contain your excitement/anxiety, etc.

6. Gather up as many of that list of things that you couldn't pack earlier. Or just make extra effort to get them ready, like in a pile by your gear, or charging your phone more frequently.

7. Keep breathing! Stay hydrated!

8. Semper Gumby! Stay flexible. The team may go, or it may not go. And if the team goes, YOU may go, or you may not. (The roster isn't finalized until the last possible minute.) Once you have done everything that needs to be done, try to relax, get a good night's sleep, enjoy hot showers, coffee, and the amenities of civilization while you have access to them. You are now ready, so just chill!

And if we don't go…

I think one way to look at this is through the lenses of grief - we are experiencing grief after the loss of something anticipated. We get our hearts set on going, our adrenaline levels are heightened, and then the anticipated event does not materialize.

We may experience some of the phases described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross - denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Not everyone will go through these stages, nor will they necessarily all occur or be in this order. For me, acknowledging the disappointment and allowing myself to feel whatever I'm feeling seems to help.

Steve Lombardi used the term "emotional decompression," which fits, as it acknowledges the pressure and the adrenaline. Sometimes I feel like I'm a tire that's been inflated to go on a trip, part of the great vehicle NDMS, when BAM! the tire pops and deflates, and I'm taken off the vehicle, rotated out.

A good thing to do now in addition to acknowledging your disappointment is to practice self-care. Give yourself lots of TLC!

Tuesday
Nov012016

App Review

[From the editor: this is a periodic article on apps that might be useful to DMATers or disaster responders in general. If you have some suggestions for apps to review, please submit them!]

FEMA Mobile App

Receive alerts from the National Weather Service for up to 5 locations. Get safety reminders, read tips to survive natural disasters, and customize your emergency checklist. Locate open shelters and where to talk to FEMA in person (or on the phone) following a disaster. Upload and share your disaster photos to help first responders. Available for iOS and Android devices.

Saturday
Oct012016

VOL. 16, NO. 7 - OCTOBER, 2016

Mark Your Calendar

  • Oct 01-31: On-Call
  • Nov 05: Team Meeting
  • Dec 03: Holiday Party

Monthly Recap

Commander's Corner - Updates from the Commander
A Letter to the Rescue Workers - A message left for 9/11 responders
Vicarious Traumatization - A reminder about disaster responder stress

Saturday
Oct012016

Commander's Corner

David Lipin - Unit Commander

Welcome to October, our final on-call of 2016. And to kick off the month, we start with in Advisory status for Hurricane Matthew, a Category 5 storm currently threatening the Caribbean and then possibly the US east coast. More to follow soon! And below (more generally speaking), so please read this issue when you can.

Uniform Policy Change Reminder

As a reminder, our new uniform policy is that team uniform BDU blouses are not to be worn except when specifically designated for missions or FTXs, not for team meetings. Speaking of which, our next team meeting is on Nov 5. We'll have details for that in the next issue of the newsletter. Anyway, back to uniforms, since we announced this uniform policy change, several people have suggested that perhaps we can add a team polo shirt to our inventory -- the command staff will discuss this at our Oct meeting, and we'll let you know.

NDMS Portal Project

The NDMS Portal Project continues, at a slow but regular pace. There was a mass email sent asking people to acknowledge receipt so that they could validate their email list. Most of you responded, a few didn't (but we confirmed that your email addresses were valid), and a few changed your email addresses; it's great that you did that, but please remember to let us know as soon as possible whenever any of your contact information changes. For example, let us know if you don't receive the newsletter announcement, your monthly status reports, or other team correspondence at your primary email address. You can expect the NDMS Portal Project effort to continue, and don't forget that this is a secure website so it will prompt you to change your password frequently -- don't forget to do that, lest you have to start over with the initial sign-in process! Again, limit your time to about 15 minutes or so as they work on stabilizing this platform, but please keep at it.

2017 On-Call Schedule

The long-awaited 2017 rotation schedule has finally been released in final form! As anticipated, this is our "skip year" where we get a break for a few months. After this month's on-call, we're not up again until Mar next year, then Jun, Sep and Dec. As the team reorganizations continue, there may be a need to "rebalance" the schedule, so there may be future changes. But for now, this is what we can count on.

FY17 Starts

Today is the first day of federal FY17, and Congress was able to pass a temporary funding measure (through early Dec). While this will keep the lights on, it is not really enough to do thorough annual planning, so there is much that we simply cannot do for now, or can only plan tentatively. I'll update everyone at our Nov meeting.

Flu Shots

Yes, it's that time again! Everyone will fall to Tier 3 starting today until you submit your annual flu shot documentation. While you're at it, might as well see if you need any other immunizations (tetanus?), or perhaps your annual TB test.

Fitness Program

We've been "warming up" to the fitness program for the last year or so with our pre-lunch walks at our team meetings, but our program officially starts today. At our Nov meeting, weather permitting, we'll be team-reporting completion of the test. As a reminder:

  • Light duty: walk 1 mile in 15 minutes without a pack. This is suitable for limited deployment environments with no unknown hazards (example, rotating into a pre-established BoO on level ground, providing care at a medical evacuation shelter). Unlikely that you could be deployed on a first-in assignment.
  • Moderate duty: walk 2 miles in 30 minutes carrying a 25-lb pack. This is suitable for most first-in deployments for typical DMAT members, and the standard that we are targeting.
  • Arduous duty: walk 3 miles in 45 minutes carrying a 45-pound pack. This is the standard for people expected to have a lot of physical activity during a deployment, such as logistics personnel.

You may wear comfortable footwear for the test, but we encourage you to wear your boots since that's what you'll be wearing on a deployment (where it counts)! This is a walking test, no jogging or running permitted. To succeed, you must finish in the allotted time without jogging or running, and be able to immediately resume normal activities (i.e., don't need a rest break, not out of breath). There was some discussion about the pack weight being a percentage of body weight up to a max weight, but we have confirmed that this is not the case. The weights are fixed as described above, because these weights represent the workload that you would be expected to perform (regardless of your weight).

This is still optional. If you are not healthy enough to participate, then don't participate! You have a year from today to complete the test (officially witnessed by the team). We will conduct Light and Moderate duty tests at each team meeting (weather permitting), and some national-level training (such as Anniston) may also conduct these tests. Arduous duty tests will be conducted by the Logistics Section at separate events.

Medical/Health Reporting

Those of you that backfilled a Hurricane Lester roster last month were introduced to the new national-level medical/health reporting. It is essentially identical to what we already do at the team level: our medical/health form, our immunization reporting, and our respiratory fitness survey. If we are Alerted or Activated and you are on the roster, then you should expect to complete these forms online in a new system. We strongly suggest that you download these forms from our website, fill them out, and keep completed copies handy so that you can easily provide this information using the new system. Unfortunately, for now it requires a funding source before a team member's account can be activated, but once it is activated you can submit your health fitness information using that mechanism from that point forward. So at some point we'll all get there.

End of Fax and Email Information Submittal

The end of this calendar year will mark the end of us accepting forms and other information from members via our fax line or email (the forms email address). For information security purposes, we are using the Upload Document link on the team website. If you haven't figured out how to do that yet, you've got a few months

That's it for me this month. I had more to write, but now have to focus on an Advisory message! Expect your October status report next week, unless our on-call month has something else in store for us...

Friday
Sep092016

A Letter to the Rescue Workers

Submitted by Barbara Morita in remembrance of 9/11

The following letter was found in the medical tent during our World Trade Center response, October 2001:

So many of you deny that you are heroes, saying you are just doing your jobs.

Well, okay, maybe it's not heroic to have chosen your profession. Maybe it's not heroic to love that job. Maybe it's not heroic to feel the rush of adrenaline when the call for help comes in.

BUT, it is heroic that you keep your promise and come when called. You don't stop to consider what dangers may be waiting for you. You don't stop to analyze how hard the job will be. You just come ready to do whatever needs to be done.

Even now when your heards are breaking and your spirits are empty, you still allow us to lean on you and to ask you to rescue us from that pit of hell.

No one could ever be prepared, no matter how hard they trained, to do the job we are counting on you to do, a job none of us could possibly face ourselves. No compassionate human being should ever have to see the things you are seeing. And yet you are still there trying to bring back to us loves ones, co-workers, fellow Americans, fellow human beings.

For this, YES, you are truly HEROES and will always be our hearts! THANK YOU!

Friday
Sep092016

Vicarious Traumatization

Katie Amatruda, PsyD, MFT

Vicarious Traumatization (or VT) is a real, and often overlooked source of stress in the life of disaster responders, medical professionals, law enforcement personnel, therapists, child protective workers, clergy, animal humane workers, soldiers, prison workers, volunteers in NGOs, lawyers, caregivers, etc. It is considered a cumulative injury; the more pain we see, the more at risk we are. It is a transformation inside us that can affect our worldview, sense of self, spirituality, relationships, and emotional regulation.

The concept of vicarious traumatization, as introduced by McCann and Pearlman (1990), provides a theoretical framework to understand the complicated and often painful effects of trauma on crisis workers. By definition, "the effects of vicarious traumatization on an individual resemble those of traumatic experiences. They include significant disruptions in one's affect tolerance, psychological needs, beliefs about self and others, interpersonal relationships, and sensory memory, including imagery."

VT is a transformation in the sense of self of a trauma worker or helper that results from empathic engagement with traumatized clients and their reports of traumatic experiences. It was first observed with nurses who worked with combat veterans who had severe PTSD. Vicarious trauma is the emotional residue of exposure that workers have from working with people as they are hearing their trauma stories and become witnesses to the pain, fear, and terror that trauma survivors have endured. It is differentiated from burnout and compassion fatigue because VT is considered "a state of tension and preoccupation of the stories/trauma experiences described by patients." VT recognizes that working with trauma survivors greatly affects the helper and that we must address the effects in order to protect both helper and clients.

VT is unavoidable and is the natural consequence of being human, connecting to and caring about our clients as we see the effects of trauma on their lives (Saakvitne, Gamble, Pearlman, & Tabor, 2000). According to Saakvitne et al. (2000) the single most important factor in the success or failure of trauma work relates to the attention paid to the experience and the needs of the helper. We cannot meet the needs of our clients when we are overriding our own.

Signs and symptoms can include:

  • Emotional numbing
  • Social withdrawal
  • Work-related nightmares
  • Feelings of despair and hopelessness
  • Loss of sense of spirituality
  • More negative view of the world
  • Reduced sense of respect for your clients
  • Loss of enjoyment of sexual activity
  • No time or energy for yourself
  • Feeling that you can't discuss work with family or friends
  • Finding that you talk about work all the time (can't escape)
  • Sense of disconnection from your loved ones
  • Increased sense of danger (reduced sense of safety)
  • Increased fear for safety of children or loved ones
  • Sense of cynicism or pessimism
  • Increased illness or fatigue
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Greater problems with boundaries
  • Difficulties making decisions
  • Reduced productivity
  • Reduced motivation for your work
  • Loss of sense of control over your work and your life
  • Lowered self esteem, lowered sense of competence in your work
  • Difficulties trusting others
  • Lessened interest in spending time alone
  • Less time spent reflecting on your experiences

Addressing VT includes increasing self-care. Strategies include:

  • Having as much compassion for yourself as you do for your patients
  • Maintaining healthy boundaries with regard to your patients
  • Self nurturing
  • Escape
  • Distraction (Researchers studied this using Tetris, but I find that Pokémon Go is very good for this)
  • Participate in community building – talk to your colleagues and teammates about what you have seen, and what you are feeling
  • Be more than your work!  In addition to being a _________ (fill in the blank), also identify yourself as an artist, writer, dancer, sweetheart, parent, dog or cat lover, traveler, etc.
  • Team culture – Help our team to develop a culture in which we know we will be impacted by what we experience, and we are supportive of each other. Offer a shoulder to cry on!
  • Laugh – Gallows humor among teammates is an important technique to put things in perspective, but don't repeat it on CNN or in public, as you will be perceived as callous and uncaring
  • Get enough sleep
  • Cultivate your inner life
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Learn to be awesome at being yourself

References:

McCann, L., and Pearlman, L., "Vicarious Traumatization: A Framework for Understanding the Psychological Effects of Working with Victims," Journal of Traumatic Stress 3, no. 1 (January 1990)

Stamm, H., ed., Secondary Traumatic Stress: Self-Care Issues for Clinicians, Researchers and Educators (Lutherville, MD: Sidran Press, 1989)

Saakvitne, K., Gamble, S., Pearlman, L., Lev, B., "Risking connection: A training curriculum for working with survivors of childhood abuse." (2000). (Baltimore, MD: The Sidran Press)

Monday
Aug012016

VOL. 16, NO. 6 - AUGUST, 2016

Mark Your Calendar

  • Aug 13: Team Meeting
  • Sep 09-12: Urban Shield
  • Oct 01-31: On-Call
  • Nov 05: Team Meeting
  • Dec 03: Holiday Party

Monthly Recap

Commander's Corner - Updates from the Commander
Training News - Agenda for the August meeting
Who Are We? Meet The Team! - Getting to know more members
On the Road - with Roger Harper and Team Rubicon

Monday
Aug012016

Commander's Corner

David Lipin - Unit Commander

Hello everyone, and welcome to the August edition of The CA-6 Chronicles. Our July on-call passed by quickly and quietly, and we're handing off smoothly to the August teams. I know many of you are still itching for some activity; perhaps October will bring an opportunity for service (but of course we hope not)!

Uniform Policy Change

At our July command and general staff meeting, we had a lengthy discussion about safety and security as it relates to team activities in public. We determined that our team uniform blouses cannot be sufficiently distinguished from those of law enforcement or military, and in the current environment are too easily misinterpreted. Therefore, we are changing our uniform policy to prohibit wearing of the BDU blouse in public except when specifically designated for missions or field training exercises. For team meetings, the uniform-of-the-day will be team t-shirt, BDU pants, and boots; do not wear your BDU uniform blouse, and please pass along this change to team members whom you see wearing the blouse (and who obviously didn't read this newsletter!). You should bring your blouse in your gear if you are planning on a gear inspection.

NDMS Portal Project

We have only about 10% of our team members who have successfully logged into the NDMS Portal, and another 15% who unsuccessfully tried. HQ is working to make the process smoother, but they would still like people to continue to try so that they can get data about how their fixes are working. I recommend that all team members try, but limit the time you spend to about 15 minutes; if the Help Desk can't sort it out in that time, then give it a rest for another couple of weeks before trying again. But just to reiterate, the NDMS Portal will eventually be a place for secure messaging, document filing, messages from HQ, rostering, real-time information about ongoing missions, deployment instructions, and more. So please try to log in, and limit your frustration by making use of the Help Desk services right away if you encounter difficulties.

Pending NDMS Structural Changes

Andy and I are attending a meeting next week at which some fairly significant structural changes to NDMS will be presented. They will likely have substantial impact on the team, as they are related to recruiting, hiring, mission strength and operations, command structure and many other aspects of our operation.

I plan on discussing these changes in detail at our August meeting, although we will have just returned and may not yet know the full extent of the impact. It's always best to discuss complicated issues like this in person because of the subtleties involved, so I hope to see everyone at the August meeting!

Monthly Status Reports

I skipped these again in July (still wasn't caught up from vacation), but am planning on working on that in the upcoming week so people can have them prior to the August meeting. Ditto for those of you that requested your CE's.

Mark Caplin Update

Mark Caplin was injured while on a (non-NDMS) mission in the Caribbean a few days ago. (Details in the Chatter forum on the team website.) He was medivac'ed to FL and had successful surgery on Sunday. He says that he's hoping to return to DMAT duty in 4-6 weeks, and I've passed along everyone's well-wishes. Good luck and hurry back Mark!

Urban Shield 2016

If you're looking to volunteer for Urban Shield this year, check out the Urban Shield 2016 website, and select Volunteers under the Register tab. You can volunteer for the Medical Branch as usual (select Medical Branch, put Val Bilotti in the "referred" section). You can also sign up for other areas of Urban Shield, so check it out!

That's it for me this month. Stay safe and see you in a couple weeks!

Monday
Aug012016

Training News

Aug 13th Meeting
Our next team training will take place at the usual time and place (see the Calendar on the team's home page). If you need a USERRA letter, contact Crystal Wright.

Here's a look at the agenda so far (not yet finalized):

General Member Tract:

  • Katie Amatruda will present Mental Health Patients
  • Chris Yee from the FDA will present Foodborne and Contact Infections & Illnesses
  • Chris Yee from the FDA will present The Nuts and Bolts of a Farm Field Investigation
  • And our usual Electronic Medical Records and Equipment Lab hands-on opportunities

New Member Tract:

  • Flightline Operations
  • Introduction to Radio Communications
  • Family/Employer Preparedness

Look for the agenda and meeting documents to be published under Training Documents (link on the right in the Members Area) in the days prior to the meeting.

And of course bring your go bag and comfortable shoes to join us on our lunch walk! We expect to begin formal testing at the next meeting.