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



InstaDecision: 4 Steps to a “Blink” Moment

by | Mar 1, 2008

In the last minutes before Wall Street’s closing bell on Friday, a professional stock broker known for his nerves of steel suddenly dumps his high-risk portfolio, seemingly without regard to price or loss. At the bar that night, his colleagues openly rib him about his uncharacteristic behavior. When he admits he didn’t have any research to back-up the trades, they privately wonder if “he has lost his nerve.” The picture looked even worse as foreign markets remained stable the following Monday morning, but that afternoon, foreign markets began to drop. The United States markets were closed for the President’s Day holiday, when they reopened on Tuesday, the United States markets would fall. The “skittish” stock broker had been right, but how? 


Perhaps due to the recent economic turmoil, the past months have seen a resurgence of interest in the ideals of “gut reactions,” intuition and other versions of the insight methods described by Malcolm Gladwell in “Blink!” Business leaders, CEO’s, physicians, disaster field responders, professional speakers and business consultants use both linear and non-linear decision-making (logic & intuition) to create “Blink” moments daily. 


Most people know the linear decision making process because it is cultivated by our educational system. It is a system based on the collection of data to support a decision (If A and B then C, but if A and not B then D). Few people realize that we are all born as innately non-linear thinkers.


What Goes Into a “Blink” Moment?

Non-linear process is a four step process consisting of: 


1) Pattern Recognition 

2) Acknowledging Framing Bias 

3) Heuristic Introspection 

4) Empathy 


Pattern Recognition 

Pattern recognition is seeing the patterns and processes behind everything you do and have done. Remember that those with the greatest potential are those who are the most adaptable to any circumstance. They innately understand the process that underlies any other person’s success and can replicate it with ease. By comparing the current circumstance to past situations, one can more accurately predict the result of a particular action or intervention.


Acknowledge Framing Bias 

Think about what happens before a manager goes into a meeting or a doctor enters an examination room. 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 are called a framing bias. 


As long as you know what your framing bias is upfront, then you can allow the situation to develop organically. With framing bias recognized, you can account for your feelings and your impressions, using 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 another’s viewpoint, you must see with “fresh eyes.” First, identify what your preconceptions are about the 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 to your preconceived ideas or because you are looking at the situation through fresh eyes? This is not easy. “Fresh eyes” come from the subtraction of your framing bias from your overall impression and perception of the situation. Through this process the patterns that you are comparing are more distinct and in sharper relief.


Heuristic Introspection 

Heuristic introspection is a non-linear thought process in which you must “be your customer”. Much like how a fine artist “knows” if a painting or musical composition “works” by going with their “gut,” you and your employees should “know” what a customer wants. 


Heuristic Introspection is based on the concept that as a member of a community, cultural group and larger society, you are a microcosm of each. Although many traditional sciences scoff at a “sample size of one,” other sciences find that by truly understanding the one sample available, conclusions can be extrapolated about the group as a whole. Since you are a microcosm of your world, perceiving and reacting as your peers would, introspection allows insight into your larger social group. 


When you think heuristically, you 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. 



Empathy is quite literally to “walk a mile in the shoes of our customers,” that is to become one with your customers. You will best understand others by understanding their feeling. While Heuristic Introspection allows you to extrapolate the feelings of others based on your feelings (sympathy), Empathy allows you to understand their feelings by being accepting of their feelings. Empathy is the art of emotional listening.


Helping Yourself Blink!

How can you now translate what you’ve discovered into a reproducible decision? 


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.


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 emotions—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.” 


Why do people underestimate the power of nonlinear decision making? 


There are two reasons that nonlinear decision making and inductive reasoning are less valued than linear decision making and deductive reasoning. Both are based on the misperception that nonlinear decision making and inductive reasoning are inherently irreproducible, unverifiable, unpredictable and thus unreliable.


  1. Despite that fact that humans are born as empathic, introspective and unbiased “pattern recognition machines,” the vast majority become linear deductive decision makers. Through their educational experiences and the very basis of our scientific society, deductive is valued over inductive and linear over nonlinear.


  1. Once the nonlinear and inductive skills are atrophied, those that undervalue what they can no longer do easily (nonlinear decision making) believe that these skills are unlearnable. Nothing could be further from the truth.


Pattern Recognition is an innate human function that ensures our survival in infancy and aids in our safety in daily living. It is easily taught and augmented.


Acknowledging Framing Bias is not an innate function, but is very learnable and since it does not require the shedding of bias, is also readily implemented.


Heuristic Introspection is partially innate. All humans are born with a degree of introspection especially when dealing with ones own needs. Walking in the shoes of another is not an innate behavior, but understanding our reaction in that situation and using that information is trainable.


Empathy is yet another innate function that ensures our ability to identify and even predict the emotional impact of an event on others. Empathy is a practiced skill and the strength of one’s empathy grows as one exercises that empathy.


In short the problem is not that “gut” is unreliable or “sample size of one” is too small. The problem is in those who devalue this innate human ability.


“The fault lies not in our stars Horatio, but in ourselves.”

  • William Shakespeare
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