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.

High Alert Institute



How to Instill the MFA Mentality in Your Company

by | Jun 26, 2005

To truly reach your customers, you need to understand where they’re coming from—what they want and need in your product or service. But you don’t need to shell out a bunch of money on focus groups and marketing research. You can do the research yourself for much less. How? By learning to think like your customer and teaching your employees to do the same. Once you master this, customers will flock to you.

            To think like a customer you need a heuristic thought process, that is you must “be your customer”. Much like how a fine artist “knows” if a painting or musical composition “works” by going with their “gut,” your employees should “know” what a customer wants. Artists develop this ability through an MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) program. Through traditional business education (MBA), however, most employees have refined their linear thought process—point A leads to point B leads to point C. But customers don’t analyze each part of your product or service; they just know if what you offer works well and if they like it. Employees who can think creatively, as if they had an MFA, can assume the mindset of your customers and market to your customers more effectively.

            Such employees go with their instinct. They truly understand the customers’ wants and needs. The next time you want to know how your customers would feel about a particular product or service, adapt a non-linear (heuristic) research approach and become a part of your study base. Your focus group of one (you) will guide your initial thought process toward reaching your customers. As you instill this new MFA mindset, consider the following:

  • Beware of Your Framing Bias

            Think about what happens before a manager goes into a meeting. Rarely will people walk into the situation “cold.” They are briefed on who they’re going to meet and what they’re supposed to accomplish. They draw certain preconceptions, which is called a framing bias.

            Framing bias is the ability to walk into a situation with a plan—a plan to make a sale, a plan to establish a relationship, etc. As long as you know what your framing bias is upfront, then you can allow the situation to develop organically. You can then take away your feelings and your impressions and use them as an analytical tool. That’s the essence of heuristics—taking your feelings and impressions and using them analytically.

            Before you can fully immerse yourself in your customer’s viewpoint, you need to shed your framing bias. First, identify what your preconceptions are about your product, service, or situation. Second, once you’ve identified them, clear your mind and explore the experience for the first time. What’s your first impression? Are you reacting the way you are because of your preconceived ideas or because you are looking at the situation through fresh eyes?

  • Become One With Your Customers

            Become part of the story, even if you aren’t part of the product story. Generally, people like and dislike the same things. If not, you’d never have to wait in line for your favorite roller coaster at an amusement park. What do you feel? Listen to your gut—chances are your customers’ gut would tell them the same thing. You may not identify with the problem, but you’ll know what you need to do to make it feel “right.”

            How can you now translate what you’ve discovered into a story for your customer? If you’re developing an ad for jogging shoes, you need to think like a runner—even if you’re not one. Why do people run? What is important to runners? How does running make people feel? After you’ve collected your personal research, you’ll be able to speak in the first person as a runner. Pretend you’re one of those successful fiction authors writing under a pseudonym. Tell your story like you live it. Now your customers will be able to personally connect with you because you’ve become one of them.  

Passing the Torch

            Not only do you, as a business leader, need to know how to think non-linearly, but you also have to encourage it in your employees for your company to truly succeed. Here are some ideas for encouraging creative, non-linear, MFA-style thinking in the workplace:

  • Adopt an “Open Thought” Policy  

            The old concept of the “open door policy” needs to be revamped into an “open thought policy.” Creative thinking should be encouraged at every opportunity. Let your employees freely express their “good” ideas. Sure, you’ll need to wade through the terrible ones to get to the good ones, but it’s worth it. Your employees will feel valued and be encouraged to find new, creative ways of solving problems.

            Over time, employees will learn to evaluate ideas on their own. At first, you will hear tons of ideas, only some which are worth exploring, but hang in there. It will take some time for an employee with limited knowledge of all the factors involved in running the business to be able to fully evaluate an idea of their own. As you take the role of mentor, rather than monitor, employees will become more creative and more skilled at self-editing. They’ll be able to take their ideas to the next logical conclusion and say, “You know, that idea is not going to work.” But they’ll also feel comfortable suggesting a well thought out “wild” idea to their supervisor that may turn out to be a great one.

            Over time, the manager and the employee will learn how to mentor and listen more effectively, and the company may benefit from some great new ideas. An employer can’t conceive all possibilities for his or her product or services. For progress to happen, you’ll need new ideas, so encourage your employees to speak up. If one comes up with a good hook but never has the opportunity to present it, think of how many sales you could be losing.

  • Bring in a Teacher

            Bring in an educator for your organization that teaches and coaches creative thinking and alternate thought processes. Rather than hiring a speaker this year who gives the same old talk about ramping up sales, consider bringing in someone who teaches employees how to think creatively. See what kind of difference it makes in your sales numbers for the following year.

  • Offer Tuition Reimbursement

            For very large companies, consider offering tuition-reimbursement for employees to get their MFA. The object is not to get them to master painting or an instrument; it’s to teach them a non-linear thought process—a very valuable skill in today’s business world. With funding this advanced education, you will reap the rewards of your employees’ new skills, and the expense may not be as high as you’d think—you may be eligible for tuition tax credits.

            If you pursue this option, be sure to set some boundaries. Require employees to maintain a certain GPA and stay with your company for a set period of time after earning their degree. You don’t want to have people earn their MFA and then get lured away by your competition!

Begin to Change Today

            Creating a workplace that encourages non-linear thinking won’t happen overnight. Begin with you. Come up with a non-traditional, non-linear idea and share it with your employees, then encourage them to do the same. Encourage your employees to be aware of their framing bias and step into your clients’ shoes. Have them “become” your clients and watch how much your business grows.  

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High Alert Institute

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Lake Wales, FL 33898
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