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Saturday
Jul012017

COMMANDER'S CORNER

David Lipin - Unit Commander

Hello all, and welcome to the July edition of our newsletter. We checked the box on another on-call month, with a week or so of tropical storm advisory activity -- a very early start to hurricane season. I've got a few updates since May, and a bit of new news as well.

NDMS Restructuring

We spent the entire May meeting on this subject, and there's not much left to cover on it. The plan is still not yet approved; HQ is working on it, but might have to wait until the new administration appoints a new ASPR. We're all just "standing by" on this. The one update I have on this front is that NDMS received official exemption from the otherwise Department-wide hiring freeze. So we do plan on resuming the hiring process in the near future. Some of this hiring might have to wait until the restructuring plan is approved, but some of it does not. (For example, we have a lot of people who have changed their licensure or gained additional experience over the years since they've joined NDMS, so we might be able to process position changes or GS upgrades for those individuals.) I don't have any news on when this will move forward, but our HQ says we'll be ready to go fairly soon.

We've already contacted each member who will be affected by this restructuring, and those of you whose GS level will be increasing (or who want to change to a new position) should be setting aside time to create your USA Jobs profile, update and upload your resume, get an unofficial copy of your educational transcript, and be as ready as you can be for when the positions post on USA Jobs. It might happen quickly, with a relatively short window of opportunity (a few weeks to a month, once the positions post).

One topic that we haven't discussed yet is the "generational change" that will occur within the team when hiring resumes. Hiring has been frozen for so long that we essentially have no "new" members; nearly everyone on the team has been on the team for 5+ years, and the average is closer to 10 years. We have so many unfilled positions that when we finally fill them, we'll have a lot of work to do to bring our new cadre up-to-speed and prepare them for deployment. We are starting the planning process for that now, and looking for more of our current members to jump in and get more involved with managing and running the team. So if you've been thinking along those lines, now is the time to raise your hand and step up. Please let me know if you're interested in helping with these tasks. We've got a lot of command staff positions to fill, and quite a few "supporting" roles for people with technical or organizational skills for the numerous one-off or background jobs that we'll need to start doing again when our ranks start to fill up again. These are all serious roles that involve significant ongoing time commitments. We need to start thinking about this now to stay ahead of this curve, so let me know if this piques your interest so we can start thinking about how to broaden our base and distribute the workload that's sure to come.

Tiki Party!

Brandon and family are hosting a Tiki Party at their new house on July 15th! (We've been avoiding these for the past few years because our last one resulted in a deployment the next day!). He sent out an eVite to all current and former members and family, so please RSVP via that invitation so he can plan ahead (or contact Brandon or me if you didn't get one). We're looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible for a fun and social afternoon, and (re-)introducing the team to your family!

Anniston Advanced DMAT FTX

We are still short one MD/PA/NP and one EMT-P for the full-team Advanced DMAT FTX in Anniston, Sep 5th - 10th. Please let me know asap if you're interested in this, otherwise we'll seek backfill from another team. This is a new training course that NDMS is designing to train entire teams, and NDMS is looking to us to help define the standard for this (as NDMS has frequently done in the past)!

Cyber Threat -- Beware!

In May, there was a global cyberattack, called WannaCry, which paralyzed computers in over 150 countries. While a kill switch has been activated for the major variant of this virus, there are other variants being circulated that have no kill switch.

This virus is a type of malware called ransomware. It comes via email or through infected websites. Once you click the link, open the attachment, or visit the infected website, the virus goes through your computer and your network connections to all network files and locks (encrypts) them so that you are not able to access them. The most frightening aspect of this virus is that once it's on a network, it specifically seeks out Windows machines that have not received the proper patch.

When you fall victim to this malicious virus, the criminals will tell you that you have two choices: pay a ransom and possibly get access to your files again, or don't pay the ransom and lose your files forever.

Federal employees are particularly at risk for this because of the previous security breach that revealed our information, so it's important to be very wary. There are many variations of phishing emails that try to get you to open an attachment or click on a link, so it's important that you never open email attachments or click links from unknown senders, or even "strange" looking email from someone known to you (because their contact list could have been compromised if they got infected). So please be careful, and when in doubt - ask before clicking that link or opening that attachment!

Responder Health Statements

Because we were on-call in June, all team members who did not have a current Responder Health Statement on file needed to provide one. With a handful of exceptions, we are now complete on this task. Going forward, hopefully this will be a routine process. Thanks to all of you who struggled to get this done, and don't forget to submit your timesheet for it!

NDMS Portal

All NDMS members (not just the omembers of the on-call teams) had to go through the NDMS Portal sign-on process in June as well, because of the security sign-on changes that have been implemented. Remember to log in regularly to this portal -- you need to change your password every 60 days or you'll be locked out (and then non-deployable)! And again, don't forget to submit your timesheet for this.

Urban Shield 2017

For those of you who are not going to Anniston with the team in September, I want to remind you that this is the same week as Urban Shield, and they're looking for volunteers. As in previous years, they're looking for help with participant monitoring and real-world medical for this event, but they're also looking for help as instructors, evaluators and/or proctors for an expanded Mobile Field Hospital station (MCI scenario for teaching hospital staff and others; we're the local experts on this in our community, so they're asking for our help).

The sign-up link is at www.urbanshield.org. Select Urban Shield Participants under the Register menu. This will bring up a Registration page.

If you're interested in helping to provide medical care during the event (as many of you have done in the past), click on the Medical Practitioner Application button and then fill out the form that comes up. For the "Have you been referred to a specific site or to a specific person" question, click Yes and then enter "Val Bilotti" in the referral box that appears.

If you're interested in helping at the Mobile Field Hospital station, click on the EMS Application button and then fill out the form that comes up. For the "Have you been referred to a specific site or a specific person" question, click Yes and then enter "Elsie Kusel and Sun Lin MD" in the referral box that appears.

CAL-MAT Program Launch

At our last meeting, Michael Frenn from CA EMS Authority came down to introduce us to the new CAL-MAT program. For those of you who weren't there (or didn't take notes), the program is up and operational, and you can join via their website: www.emsa.ca.gov/cal-mat. There's an FAQ there, as well as an application and other information.

That's it for me for this month. I hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July!

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