High Alert Institute




by | Mar 14, 2006

It is 2006. It is summer. The sky is blue. The sun is shining again over central Florida and you are enjoying one of Orlando’s beautiful spa and resorts. The kids have met Mickey and Minnie, Pluto and Donald, Shamus and every character in Universal Studios. You know because you have had to walk every inch of every park. As you nestle in for a much deserved evenings rest you turn on the Weather Channel and there before you are the two red flags with those ominous black squares.


Your mind races. What do you do?

You are miles from home. All your worldly possessions are safe but your most precious possession, your family, is here.

Are you prepared? I have a disaster plan for home. You followed the D.I.S.A.S.T.E.R. acronym.
• You know how to Detect.
• You know how to find out who is In charge.
• You know how to be Safe.
• You know how to Assess the situation
• You know how to get Support.
• You understand the concepts of Triage and Treatment, how to decide what is most important and how to get help if I need it.
• You do not know how to Evacuate.
• And you are not part of any Recovery plan here.

You are just a tourist.

At home you are R.E.A.D.Y.
• You know what you Rely on.
• You have Educated yourself and your family.
• You have learned to Appreciate those around you and those who will help you.
• You have Drilled, Drilled and Drilled again.
• But in the end any disaster plan comes down to You and here you are in a strange place far from everything that you need; everything that you rely on; everything that is familiar.

The P.L.A.N. acronym is all you have left. You have to start all over again. You need a new plan.
• Take inventory of the People participating, your family. Prepare each person for the disaster. If you have small children, you may need to talk to them about what is happening, and reassure them that everything will be all right.
• If instructed to Leave, when and how will you leave (evacuate)? Where will you go and how will you get there? Will your family or fellow evacuees meet before you leave or when you arrive at your destination? The decision to leave makes communication and your contacts outside the disaster zone critically important. How will you communicate while you evacuate and after you arrive at your destination? What are you going to do if you get separated? Operate on a buddy system; no one should be left alone. When you and your family or business associates become mobile, make sure everyone knows the plan.
• Anticipate plan failures and plan for the “what ifs.” This is a chance to brainstorm. Make a list of all the possible failures. What if the phone lines go down? What if your basement floods? What if you get caught in traffic? No “what if” is too extreme to consider. The only possibility that you can’t plan for is the one you didn’t think of. Once you’ve brainstormed possible failures, you need to Adapt to each one with an alternate plan. If the phone lines go down, can you use your cell phone? If your basement floods, can you seek shelter with a neighbor or in some other nearby location?
• Make sure you account for all your Needs for seventy-two hours. Be prepared to be self-sufficient during this time. Each one of your family members must have personal identification and photos of all others in your plan, one quart (liter) of drinking water, seventy-two hours of food, seventy-two hours of clothes, two weeks of medications, two weeks of toiletries, a supply of cash (credit/debit cards can’t be verified if phone lines go down), a flashlight, a portable radio, batteries, a signal whistle, white/silver duct tape, a first aid kit, prepaid calling card, and a list of emergency phone numbers.

Take heart my traveling friend. As a professional speaker as well as a disaster responder, I travel every week. I can tell you that you are better prepared on the road than you are at home.

First, you are already packed. All those worldly possessions that you could not bring with you are waiting safely at home and all the things that you need to get through a trip whether for pleasure or disaster are already in conveniently packaged in suitcases, backpacks, duffle bags and we hope not a steamer trunk. What you need is right there.

Second, everything else you will need is conveniently located in one place, the nearest pharmacy. Flashlights and radios are easily obtained at any of the local drugstores and even at the local attractions. Stay away from candles. While they are safe at home where you know the environment and you control the environment, in a hotel you might get wet and not from the hurricane but from a sprinkler system. An inexpensive first aid kit is also a quick and easy item to obtain while on the road. Again a simply trip to the pharmacy and you have what you need.

Don’t forget water. You might be on your own for as much as 72 hours. Most hotels have water in the room at an obscene price but while you are at the pharmacy or drug store picking up your hand cranked radio and flashlight, your toiletries and filling any medications that you may need to have transferred in from back home, do not forget to pick up a liter of water per day per person and then you are ready to go.

Pack it all in your suitcase and give up the items that may not be so important. Leave them for the hotel to take care of.

Third, make contact with the hotel. Find out what their disaster plan in. I assure you they have one. They are responsible for you. They no more want the bad press or the liability of someone getting hurt than you want to be that someone who is hurt. Ask them if their staff is trained in Disaster Life Support, the “CPR” of disaster response. This training is available throughout the United States. It is offered nationally by High Alert, LLC and several major universities. Here in Florida, this training is offered by National Disaster Life Support of Florida and several state universities.

Rely on your hotel. They will provide for you. Our central Florida hotels provided their guests extraordinary service and comfort during the last two seasons of hurricanes. There is no reason to believe it will be any less so now. In fact every facility is more prepared now than they were two years ago. There was even a major medical convention last year during Hurricane Wilma and the convention went off without a hitch. So will your vacation.

Finally, resist the urge to try to go home. Do not jam the airport full. The airport is the last place you want to try to hunker down through a hurricane. If you can get out and get on, do so. Check out by phone after you get home. This way you have a hotel room to come back to. If your hotel checkout is already preplanned and the storm is some distance away, consider leaving for home early, before the travel rush. Whatever you do, don’t rent a car and try and drive out of the state of Florida. Unfortunately there are only a few major highway exits from our state. We have been credited with the largest traffic jams in world history during the last several years’ hurricane seasons. Only Hurricane Rita misplaced us from that number one position as Houston evacuated 1.2 million people over 48 hours on the highway. If the airport is a bad place to weather a storm, a rental car is worse.

So enjoy your vacation. Stay. See the sites. When the weather turns bad listen to what the officials tell you to do.

We are good at this. Trust in the people that have made the pleasurable part of your trip so great and remember in Central Florida the sun always shines again. The sky is always blue again and we are always here to welcome you with open arms after the storm.

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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