High Alert Institute



Drinking Deeply of Resilience

by | Dec 27, 2006

On this second anniversary of the Indonesian Tsunami, the principles of resilience have a poignant significance. While those rebuilding lives and countries commemorated the event with religious services, memorials, events of state and moments of silence, I spent this day with a small group of medical students. These students came to Central Florida to donate their time and holiday vacation to help severely disabled children and their families.


Medical school is a grueling experience. These students receive little or no time off during the four years while spending 50 to 60 hours per week in class and clinic. Without any conscious realization, these medical students found a way to rebuild their own resilience.


The greatest statement of resilience that I have heard in my years of nutrition counseling, medicine, or disaster for response and recovery are drawn from the daily prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous: 


“Lord, grant me the strength to change the things I can change;

(physical resilience)


“The serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

(relationship resilience and emotional resilience).


“And, the wisdom to know the difference.”  

(spiritual resilience)


This simple prayer, or wise saying if you prefer, is not only itself a source of spiritual resilience, but the embodiment of the four canteens.  


Once we have filled our four canteens of resilience:  Physical, relationship, emotional and spiritual we are ready to deal with life’s adversities, but it is how we draw from our canteens of resilience that determine whether we will suffer a disaster (our needs will exceed our resources) or that we will actually remain resilient (our resources will exceed our needs).  


Although I have heard this prayer many times during my over quarter century of dealing with clients, patients and corporations, it was never brought home better than as I watched my own daughter go through her personal recovery.


Tiffany had been hospitalized with her own health challenge and at a time when I was deployed to a disaster scene.  Ordinarily I would have been released to go back home, however just the day before my daughter was hospitalized, the only other physician on the team had been called back also for an emergency and his was more grave than mine. 


So, for the first time in her life, Tiffany had to face a challenge without daddy by her side.  Laura was there, as well as her older sister, Victoria and her brothers, Nicholas and Christopher.  My mother, Jean, was also steadfast at Tiffany’s side, but with all of this support and even if I had been there, Tiffany had to walk her road with only our emotional support. 


Certainly the relationship resilience we provided, as well as the emotional resilience helped Tiffany’s resources, helped pace her needs at every moment.  Tiffany had been the only girl on an all boys’ football team in high school and was in excellent physical shape which provided her the physical resilience to bounce back from her hospitalization. 


While Tiffany was well rooted in the spiritual and religious beliefs of her upbringing, they had never been personally tested for her.  Once more, being in her late teens and being like all other teenagers she had begun to question and challenge her own beliefs, internalizing was hers rather than a mirror reflection of what her parents had taught her. 


It was during this period of challenging her own beliefs that she would be forced by necessity and by survival to believe, to state to herself that she believed even if she was not certain anymore and from that, draw her spiritual resilience. 


I say with no modesty and with the greatest of pride that Tiffany is the embodiment of the four canteens of resilience.  She displayed physical resilience in the face of a life adversity.  She drew emotional, her relationship and emotional resilience from her family and friends. In the turmoil of early adulthood she found the inner peace and the well spring of strength that comes from believing that comes from the act of believing, from a full spiritual life that leads to spiritual resilience. 


In the end, resilience is just that easy.  It is resilience that prevents an adverse event from becoming a disaster because it is through resilience that our resources always exceed our needs. 


Your 40,000 gallon bathtub provides you the resilience to deal with any adversity that life or business may send your way.

Griffin Works offers Pawsitive Interactions with Service Dogs During Response Operations©, an audience-customized training that breaks down barriers by offering hands-on handling training and demonstrations with working service dogs for fire departments, EMS agencies, and public safety organizations.

Part of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium and home to the National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center, TEEX has been leading homeland security training since 1998. The major TEEX programs include fire and rescue, infrastructure and safety, law enforcement, economic and workforce development, and homeland security. As a member of The Texas A&M University System, TEEX is unique in its ability to access a broad range of emerging research and technical expertise. Beginning with course design and development all the way through hands-on instruction and national certification testing, TEEX delivers comprehensive training through both classroom and hands-on instruction and as online courses.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) was created by Congress in 2000 as part of the Children’s Health Act to raise the standard of care and increase access to services for children and families who experience or witness traumatic events. This unique network of child-serving professionals, caregivers and young adults, researchers, and national partners is committed to changing the course of children’s lives by improving their care and moving scientific gains quickly into practice across the U.S. The NCTSN is administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and coordinated by the UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress (NCCTS). 

The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The EMI provides national leadership in developing and delivering training to ensure that individuals and groups having key emergency management responsibilities possess the requisite skills to effectively perform their jobs.

The High Alert Institute maintains a list of reviewed courses provided by governments, universities and professional organizations. This list is geared towards the non-emergency management person who participates in disaster planning, preparedness, response, recovery or mitigation as part of their job responsibilities.

The High Alert Institute has partnered with Shutterstock to distribute stock images from the nature images donated by our supporters. For eligible stock images, Shutterstock will donate a portion of the royalty to the High Alert Institute. There is no cost to charitable organizations or to Shutterstock customers.

For eligible purchases through AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the High Alert Institute. There is no cost to charitable organizations or to AmazonSmile customers. All you need to do is push the SMILE NOW button and select to support THE HIGH ALERT INSTITUTE on AmazonSmile.

Koi need forever homes, too! For pond enthusiasts, freshwater exotic and ornamental fish may not be available through pet stores or rescues in their area. The High Alert Institute Aquatic Pet Shelter Rehoming Program will be happy to assist you in stocking your new pond or adding a new finned friend to your school. Coming soon – when you adopt a Koi from the High Alert Institute Aquatic Pet Shelter Rehoming Program, we can arrange for delivery to your door anywhere in the continental United States.

Have you always wanted a Koi pond but don’t have the space one? Sponsor a Koi in our community shelter pond and we send you photos of your sponsored animal. Coming soon are live Koi Cameras above and below the water to enjoy your sponsored Koi anytime.

Dumping of freshwater non-native species and exotic aquatic pets into wild habitats is a man-made disaster that is truly preventable. The Institute’s Aquatic Pet Welfare Partnership works to raise awareness and reduce the impact on healthy ecosystems through education, as well as rescue and rehoming. Joined by champions of animal welfare and environmental stewardship, this  association of aquatic pet rescue operations and aquatic pet shelters across the United States aims to save our finned friends and preserve our waterways together.

Want to share our cause with family, friends, and colleagues? Looking for a non-traditional way to celebrate a birthday or honor someone special? Support the Institute by starting your own Peer-to-Peer fundraising challenge! Let your contacts know why our mission is important to you and what they can do to support your cause. START YOUR OWN FUNDRAISER for the High Alert Institute.

From the staffing pool to the shelter ponds, from the boardroom to the classroom, and from reading the science to writing the analyses, High Alert Institute programs and services benefit from the experience, expertise, and generosity of our volunteers. Put your talents to use for good and to good use – VOLUNTEER TODAY.

Make your donation twice as nice by rehoming aquatic pets and providing a rehabilitation companion pet to a deserving person, family, or facility. Sponsor part or all of a Joy of Koi Program pond installation – complete with rehomed koi – and give the gifts of love and recovery.

Professional photographers, amateurs, and legal copywrite holders are all welcome to participate in the High Alert Institute Nature Photo Donation Program. Sales of the images benefit the Institute and donors are eligible for tax deductions equivalent to the fair market value of their photos. Landscapes, seascapes, animals, flowers – all may be accepted – whether new or vintage  images. People may be included in the photo but only if unidentifiable (i.e., blurred figures at a distance).

Did you know that unused patents and copyrights can be donated to charity? Intellectual Property (IP) just sitting on a shelf will lose value as it becomes obsolete. The High Alert Institute IP Donation Program seeks to rescue stranded, technology-related IP with the potential for development into marketable products. Once accepted by the program, the owner/inventor is eligible for a tax deduction equivalent to the fair market value of the IP. The Institute receives the patent licensing fees or revenue from the sale of the IP to businesses, helping us to fund our mission. In turn, businesses are able to advance their markets and create jobs for less money than starting a project from scratch.

Disasters are defined as situations in which needs exceed or overwhelm available resources. Some disasters affect an entire community, while other disasters impact individuals and families. Crises of physical or psychological health can be very personal disasters.
The therapeutic value of pets during illness, trauma, and recovery is well established. And Koi fish may be well suited for people who are not able to provide verbal pet commands or physically care for pets like dogs and cats. Koi ponds are also a source of beauty and peace, providing an ideal setting for quiet reflection or meditation.
We are working to partner with pond installers and aquatic pet rescues/shelters to offer free or reduced-cost ponds with rehomed Koi fish to people seeking this type of pet therapy.

Disasters disrupt life and impact our sense of personal, family, and community safety. Survivors and responders alike often are not aware of the emotional, psychological or spiritual challenges that they may face from disaster onset through recovery. With two decades of experience training responders and communities to prepare for the behavioral health aspects of disasters, we will continue to provide education and a curated list of resources to groups or individuals.

Non-medical factors that impact overall health are termed Social Determinants of Health or SDoH. Noise pollution, poor air quality, and poor water quality are three environmental factors known to have a strong link to overall health. And the same environmental factors that impact humans impact their pets and other animals in their care. We continue to assist in advocacy, education, and technology development to mitigate the impact of SDoH on humans and animals alike.

Our efforts in shelter and rescue are the main focus of our environmental stewardship, reducing the environmental impact of non-native aquatic animals being dumped into public waterways. The High Alert Institute also assists innovators with the design, development, and evaluation of green and renewable energy technologies. Reducing the carbon footprint associated with disaster preparedness, response, and recovery furthers our continued mission to mitigate risk and improve resilience.

We partner with public and private organizations, sharing resources and fostering partnerships to improve disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, and mitigation.

The High Alert Institute team has over a century of combined research experience in medical, nursing, behavioral health, and disaster sciences. Our team provides support to researchers and technology developers through comprehensive literature searches and reviews, as well as failure mode database searches and adjudicated reviews.

When disaster strikes, most aquatic pet owners have limited options to secure the safety of their pets. Sheltering in place may not be possible if there is no power to provide aeration and “pet-friendly” shelters do not include ponds or aquariums. Our goal is to provide an option for aquatic pet owners in need of rescue and shelter for their finned friends.

Our goal is to share our two decades of disaster readiness experience with animal welfare organizations, shelters, caretakers, and pet owners, as they implement contingency  plans for natural and manmade disasters.

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High Alert Institute

4800 Ben Hill Trail
Lake Wales, FL 33898
Office: 863.696.8090
FAX: 407.434.0804


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