Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, FEMA, Health & Welfare, Social Media, Uncategorized

Tech & Disaster Management

Press conference presentation.It wasn’t long ago that disaster management professionals handled crises primarily through landlines and press conferences. In fact, I still use the Twilight Bark. Thankfully, over the past 10 years, technology has redefined global emergency management and disaster communications. One of the first national disasters to heavily rely on technology, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), was Hurricane Sandy, as users sent more than 20 million Sandy-related tweets. I was tweeting like crazy during Hurricane Sandy. Social tablet

Since people have embraced mobile technologies, it’s increasingly important for disaster management professionals to adopt a social media strategy as well as the ability to use multiple forms of technology to communicate and connect with an increasingly networked population. What’s more, building owners and managers, as well as members of the public, should take advantage of the many ways technology can help them prepare for, survive, and recover after a disaster.

Technology and Disasters:

  • The American Red Cross offers free mobile apps that put lifesaving information at the user’s fingertips. The apps give people instant access to more than 35 customizable emergency weather alerts, as well as safety tips and preparedness information for 14 different types of emergencies and disasters. The Emergency App contains an “I’m Safe” feature, which helps people use social media to let loved ones know they are okay following an emergency. These apps have been downloaded over seven million times and have been credited with saving lives in Oklahoma, Texas and other states. Other Red Cross apps include Blood Donor, Earthquakes, First Aid, Flood, Hero Care, Hurricane, Pet First Aid – which is my personal favorite, Radio Cruz Roja, Swim, Tornadoes, Transfusion Practice Guidelines and Wildfires.Graphic: Download the FEMA App
  • Disaster Apps. While it would be virtually impossible to list every available disaster app, here are a few noteworthy options, available on Google Play as well as the Apple App Store: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), FEMA, My Hurricane Tracker, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), QuakeFeed, Storm Distance Tracker, and WeatherCaster. Another good one is put out by the ASPCA Mobile App. NOAA-1030x496
  • Facebook offers a natural disaster page, which is set up so that people can check on loved ones, get updates about the developing situation, and look for information about how to help. Disaster Response on Facebook highlights tips, news, and information on how to prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters. Facebook users who like and follow the page can stay up to date and connected with affected communities around the world. They can also donate with the “Donate Now” call-to-action button, so nonprofits can connect with people who care about their causes and encourage them to contribute. safetycheckmobielcarousel
  • Twitter has emerged as a legitimate means of emergency communication for coordinating disaster relief. A 2015 study, What to Expect When the Unexpected Happens: Social Media Communications Across Crises, focused on 26 different crisis situations (such as earthquakes, floods, bombings, derailments and wildfires) for two years. The event which obtained the most Twitter attention at the time of the study was the Boston Marathon bombings, with 157,500 tweets. What’s more, Twitter Alerts provide trusted sources with a platform to disseminate accurate information to concerned parties in real time, and for those people to offer immediate feedback about the impact and hierarchy of needs relative to the associated disaster. My Twitter handle is @RjtheFireDog.Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 3.44.27 PM.png
  • OneEvent is an algorithm developed by a small startup in Wisconsin. For a monthly subscription fee, OneEvent detects household disasters like fires and floods up to 20 minutes before they happen. The software-based approach uses sensors to monitor things like heat and humidity in key areas of the subscriber’s home. I wonder if it would work in our doghouse? If things start to deviate from the norm due to a leaky pipe or a hot oven, the system will catch it, let the user know, and learnfrom the situation. Online learning.
  • Online Fire Life Training systems, which provide subscribers with access to information about emergency and disaster prevention, management and recovery. A leader in the field is Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training Systems. The fully-automated system allows property management companies to manage one site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system. Subscribers get access to training for building occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors. All user training and testing is recorded. Building-specific information is sent to first responders for immediate access during emergencies. Our mission is to save lives through training, with the motto “Be Safe!”

Remember that safety is important for everyone across continents. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Communications, Social Media, Winter Weather Hazards

Disaster Preparation and Recovery Smartphone Apps

Mobile phone with floating iconsWorldwide, disasters affect an average 450 million people at a cost of $17.6 billion. If we’ve learned nothing else from recent disasters such as the Colorado floods, Hurricane Sandy, and active shooter incidents at Sandy Hook and the Naval Shipyard, we’ve discovered that one of the most important tools for preparing for and recovering from disasters is two-way communication.

So, while social media platforms such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest were originally conceived as ways for people to interact socially, they have emerged as integral tools for emergency management and disaster response. The newest social media tools and, arguably, the most cost effective for managing disasters and emergencies are Smartphone apps. I don’t have a Smartphone because my paws are too big to push the little buttons.

According to social media guru Zoe Fox of Mashable:

  • One in five Americans has used an emergency app.
  • 76% of Americans affected by natural disasters have used social media to contact friends and family
  • 44% have asked their online communities to contact responders
  • 37% have used social media to help find shelter and supplies
  • 24% used social media to let loved ones know they’re safe
  • 25% have downloaded disaster apps
  • 99.9% of dogs love bacon. (This doesn’t have a lot to do with emergency management. But I think it’s an important statistic.)

Here is just a small sampling of the thousands of disaster preparedness and emergency management Smartphone apps available to download for a maximum price of $5.99:

  • Are You Ready? Helps prepare users to pass the FEMA IS-22 exam so they can receive an official FEMA certificate of completion.
  • BioAgent Facts from the Center for Biosecurity of the University Pittsburgh Medical Center provides facts about pathogens that could cause serious disease resulting from a natural epidemic or use as a biological weapon.
  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC) app and web page provides health and safety information related to emergencies and disasters.
  • Clinicians’ Biosecurity Resource from the Center for Biosecurity of the University Pittsburgh Medical Center provides clinicians with detailed information and recommended treatments for the most dangerous potential bio weapons.
  • Disaster Alert developed by Pacific Disaster Center provides access to information in both a list and on an interactive map about active hazards occurring around the globe.
  • Disaster Prep features an Emergency Preparedness Checklist and Guide. The app provides users a means to collect necessary information.
  • Disaster Preparedness for the Family is an eGuide which has an all-hazards overview of disaster information to help families prepare so they can provide for their family’s most basic needs during a disaster.
  • Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) mobile enhanced web page identifies nearby industrial facilities and toxic chemical releases as reported through the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Program.
  • ERS: Emergency Response and Salvage from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training outlines critical stages of disaster response for damage to collections and significant records.
  • FEMA app and mobile enhanced web page provide government disaster response information.
  • First Aid from the American Red Cross provides free lifesaving first aid instruction and disaster preparedness information including videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice.
  • FluView developed by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks influenza-like illness activity levels across the U.S.
  • Hands-Only™ CPR from the American Heart Association provides quick instructions for CPR without mouth-to-mouth breaths.
  • JusticeMobile gives officers direct access to criminal information. The app was tested by 600 San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) officers and will soon be available across the state, including 3,600 Los Angeles Police Department officers.
  • Know Your Plan features property protection guidance and contains disaster preparedness checklists for hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes, severe winter weather and evacuations. It also gives the option of setting up reminders to complete a task, tracking progress and customizing and sharing checklists with social networks.
  • LactMed from the National Library of Medicine app provides access information about maternal and infant drug levels and possible effects of vaccines and radiologic agents on lactation and on breastfed infants.
  • LibraryFloods from the National Library of Medicine covers basic steps for recovering collections after a water emergency in your library.
  • MedlinePlus mobile enhanced web page from the National Library of Medicine provides access to consumer-oriented health information on disaster topics in English and Spanish.
  • Mobile Medical Unit Field Operations Guide was developed for the Northern New England Metropolitan Response System but is applicable to other response teams such as MRC, CERT, DMAT and others. The app contains access to packing lists, deployment guidelines, treatment reference, and more.
  • National Weather Service mobile enhanced web page provides weather, hydrologic, and climate-forecasts and warnings for the United States.
  • NFPA 1600 developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), provides a foundation for disaster and emergency management planning. The entire text is fully searchable and contains active links and phone numbers for NFPA and other agencies involved with emergency management programs, risk mitigation and response.
  • OutbreaksNearMe provides real-time, searchable disease outbreak information for your neighborhood on interactive maps.
  • Pet Lover Apps are not necessarily disaster or emergency-related. But they will help you feed and care for your pet in the manner to which he or she has become accustomed.
  • Pocket First Aid & CPR from the American Heart Association provides quick, concise and clear first aid and CPR instructions from a user’s Smartphone.
  • PubMed Mobile from the National Library of Medicine provides access to more than 21 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books.
  • REMM (Radiation Emergency Medical Management) from the National Library of Medicine provides guidance about clinical diagnosis and treatment of radiation injuries during radiological and nuclear emergencies.
  • Shelter Finder displays open Red Cross shelters and their current population on an easy to use map interface.
  • SOS app from the American Red Cross provides step-by-step video narration and follow demonstrations allowing people to quickly and confidently respond to common emergency situations with the goal of saving lives.
  • UbAlert — Disaster Alert Network is a global social network that operates to save lives by sharing the knowledge of the world’s citizens with those in danger.
  • WISER (Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders) from the National Library of Medicine assists first responders in Hazmat incidents, with features including substance identification support, containment and suppression advice, and medical treatment information.

It would be virtually impossible to compile a list of each and every available disaster preparation or emergency management app, as new applications are in development each and every day. But the point is that apps aren’t going away. If you have a Smartphone, you have access to a virtually unlimited number of resources to help you before, during and after a manmade or natural disaster. So maybe I need to find one that works for me and my paws?

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

Posted in Cyber Security, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Communications, Social Media

Global Tweet-a-thon for Law Enforcement

Girl on Twitter BirdSince being founded in 2006, Twitter has evolved from a virtual gathering place teenagers casually discuss fashion and celebrity news to a 175,000,000-member platform used by law enforcement and emergency management professionals worldwide to share best practices and educate the public about disaster preparedness and recovery. Celebrating the medium, police agencies around the world will connect via Twitter on March 22 to participate in a 24-hour Tweet-a-thon beginning at 8 a.m. EST. I’ve had my own Twitter account since August 2009 and I find it’s a great way to communicate.

The Global Police Tweet-a-thon is sponsored by Cops.net. So far, 90 agencies have signed up to participate. And there is still plenty of time for interested parties to register. All that’s required to enter is submission of agency name, contact information and time zone. Just email the founder of LAWS Communications, lauri@lawscomm.net. All agencies will use the same hashtag, which is yet to be determined, in order to call attention to police work and issues that police officers face as well as promote the use of social media in police work. The hashtag I like most is #bacon.

“We hope to send (a message) to non-law enforcement that their police officers are up to speed with social media, and that they should use social media to talk with police officers and to be stewards of public safety,” explained event organizer Lauri Stevens.

Over the years, numerous police agencies have held tweet-a-thons or tweet-the-beat events to create awareness of police work and call attention to related issues. So far, early entries are from all across the United States as well as Canada and the UK. I’m trying to get all of my canine cohorts to sign up so we can communicate via the Tweet-a-Thon instead of through the Twilight Bark.

One state that understands the importance of relying on social media in times of crisis is Louisiana, where the Chief of Police in Thibodaux said he’s promoting transparency in policing actions and furthering proactive social media integration. A 2012 University of Maryland report called “Social Media Use during Disasters,” revealed detailed information about the public’s use of social media, both generally and during specific disasters, and addressed what prompts the public to use social media during disasters as well as what deters such consumption. The only thing that deters my consumption of bacon is a fully belly.

The report includes specific examples of social media consumption during key catastrophic events including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 Haitian earthquake. The case studies provide insights into how the public uses social media and other media, including preliminary lessons learned from these notable events. Most experts agree that if Hurricane Katrina had occurred after Twitter caught on, the exchange of information between victims and public agency officials likely would have been greatly improved.

Louisiana Police Chief Scott Silveri said his agency “will participate in the tweet-a-thon because (we) hope that other agencies break from the reactive isolationist nature of traditional law enforcement, and begin realizing the benefits of sharing timely and relevant information through social media.”

To participate in the Tweet-a-thon, email Lauri Stevens at lauri@lawscomm.net with agency name, contact name and email address. Then mark your calendar for March 22 and don’t forget to tweet! I’ll be tweeting and would love to start a conversation with you.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services helps commercial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

Posted in Emergency Alert System, Fire Life Safety Training, Social Media, Uncategorized, Version 3.0

New Upgrade to RJWestmore Fire Life Safety Training System

RJWestmore Inc. is proud to announce the release of Version 3.0 of our comprehensive e-based safety training program. The new system boasts features that property managers and building owners, employers, occupants and canine cohorts have come to depend on for building specific safety training, such as the integration and automation that brings together facility managers, fire safety directors and local fire departments. The system upgrade showcases our continued commitment to offer the most user-friendly and complete training system on the market. Here is a snapshot of some of the new functionality that RJWestmore trainees will enjoy with Version 3.0:

New “Basics for individuals who need Special Assistance”

Basic Special Assistance Guidelines are now automatically sent when individual users add themselves to the RJWestmore Special Assistance List. Users will find copies of this in “Your Resources,” under the “Forms, Lists and Guidelines” bullet point. I am lobbying for another bullet point called Bacon. I think it would be nice for folks who want to check out helpful information about meaty snacks.

New “Management Report”

All user-training base information (relative to the past and current year) is contained in one easy-to-use Excel report. Excel isn’t easy for me to use. I think I would need opposable thumbs to enter data like that.

New “Occupants” Page

The “Occupants” Tab in all users’ database management system now displays:

  • Floor and suite information for every person
  • Color-coded “Previous” and “Current Year” certification dates
  • Past due training alert icon (over12 months)

New “System Notifications” Page

  • Users are able to choose how to view messages
    • New Messages
    • Read Messages
    • Archived Messages—users can choose which messages to archive

New Social Media Links

  • This enables users to share news of their life-saving training with friends.
  • I am a big proponent of social media. Have you subscribed to the RSS feed for my blog and followed me on Twitter yet?

If you own or manage a building, or know someone who does, do them a favor. Let them know about the RJWestmore Training System. Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves users over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES! BE SAFE.

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJWestmore, Inc. Our new Version 3.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. What’s more, the NEW RJWestmore Property Messaging System is included FREE for all RJWestmore Online Training System users. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information.

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Social Media

Introducing the New RJWestmore Facebook Fan Page

We Hope You Really “Like” Our New Facebook Fan Page!

I am pleased to announce the new RJWestmore Training System Fan Page on Facebook! It’s intended as a meeting place for emergency management professionals to “virtually gather” to share information. Our goal is to facilitate engaging discussions about disaster preparedness, fire life safety and building management among Facebook users around the world. I’m thinking of starting a “Friends of Squirrels” Fan Page.

My pals at RJWestmore remain committed to continually advance our social media presence as a service to the community—to help business leaders, property owners and managers, first-responders, healthcare professionals and everyday folks prepare for and recover from disasters of all kinds. Serving commercial real estate companies for more than 20 years, RJWestmore Inc. offers a state-of-the-art Training System, which was recently upgraded to Version 2.5, to building managers and property owners throughout the country.  I have a training system of my own “PoochSoft Stick Chewing V1.4.” We’re still in beta mode.

The fully-integrated system allows property management companies to administer one site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system. Property Managers can train occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors, with all user-training and testing recorded. Subscribers also enjoy quick-access to building-specific Emergency Responder information and other resources. What’s more, the RJW Training System automatically routes certifications and sends compliance reports to every tenant-subscriber.

The fully-automated system features personalized certificates, which are instantly sent to users via email upon course completion. And annual reminders for each training-module are also automatically sent to each user along with quarterly employee-compliance reports, which are sent to every tenant. I try to send Bowzer and Miles reminders on their fetch level certifications, but they just chew them up…

An added benefit, the RJW Training System sends out automatic notifications to local fire departments. Those guys and gals are the best! Props to my Dalmatian brothers! And higher-level users can automatically create real time Special Assistance and Floor Warden Lists and get automatic notification of updates to Special Assistance, Floor Warden and Fire Safety Director Lists. Automatic updates and maintenance make the system even easier to use.

Fans of the Facebook page will receive updates about the awesome training system, further enhancing our innovative service. We also want to encourage clients to talk to each other, to share tips about best practices for emergency and disaster preparedness and recovery. I had my own Fan Page for a while, but I simply had too many fans

Highlights of our new Fan Page:

  • Use it as a social media gateway to the corporate blog, RJ the Firedog blog (This is my own blog!), Twitter feed, and YouTube content.
  • Take advantage of information available through daily posts which will detail the latest news and best practices in emergency management—covering a myriad of topics such as earthquake preparedness, indoor air quality, government agency news, fire safety, beef jerky national aggregate pricing, evacuation procedures, disease prevention and CDC warnings, cyber threats and many other related topics.
  • Learn about industry events such as conferences for emergency management and first- responder professionals as well as security training summits.
  • View engaging photos and videos relative to emergency management communications and training. These really do exist! Have you ever seen a video of a fire drill in action? It’s riveting!

Like the RJWestmore Training System Fan Page today to become a part of the best emergency preparedness group on the web. As the fan base grows, we hope the page will emerge as a central hub for networking and information-sharing for dedicated emergency management and building management professionals, property owners, building managers and safety personnel across the country. It will also expose more people to my extremely witty repartee.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.