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



Stop the Toxic Merry-Go-Round

by | Jan 4, 2023

Stop the Toxic Merry-Go-Round

Co-authors: Allison A. Sakara, NP, MSN, RN, PHRN, and Alyssa Middleton, PhD


“My job now is to try and help people understand every one of us makes a difference. And cumulatively, wise choices in how we act each day can begin to change the world.” – Dr. Jane Goodall


More than 4,500 PFCs, also known as polyfluorinated compounds, have been a man-made source of toxicity for nearly a century. None of these compounds have been proven safe in our food, water, soil, or air. Each is merely another version of the same problem, with another brand name or abbreviation. Although a few have been removed from the market, this only applies to new manufacturing. Products containing these discontinued PFCs and the environmental contamination caused by them remain everywhere. Regrettably, PFAS substances (per- or poly-fluoroalkyl substances) – the majority of all PFCs – have not been discontinued. The serious consequences to our health continue to escalate as these toxins accumulate in everything we touch and ingest. And because PFCs – especially PFAS – are so durable, the impact on our children will be even greater. 

PFAS substances account for over 3,000 of all PFCs and are found in countless consumer goods and commercial operations. These substances entered our world as “solutions” for making surfaces smooth, reducing friction, resisting stains, and repelling water. According to multiple studies and manufacturer disclosures, examples of products that contain PFAS include the following:

  • clothing and furniture made to be stain-resistant, waterproof, or fire-resistant
  • formed plastics made to look like cloth, such as car upholstery or shoes
  • floor polishes and stain-resistant carpeting 
  • wide variety of adhesives, ranging from household tape to industrial 
  • firefighting foams, equipment, and work uniforms 
  • insulation for electrical wires
  • paper and plastics used for food packaging such as squeeze bottles, “K-cups,” pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags, fast food wrappers, and “to-go” boxes
  • personal care products, such as shampoo and dental floss
  • heat-resistant and non-stick coatings on cookware and cooking utensils

Bioaccumulation of PFCs has been verified in blood banks, employee blood samples, and random human blood samples going back to the 1970s. Despite the undeniable and growing human exposure to PFCs, which includes PFAS, the first regulatory exposure limits for PFCs were not issued until the early 2000s! The response of the chemical and manufacturing industries has been a succession of substitute PFCs, with each new version claiming to be safer than the prior one. But each new version has only been a different horse on the toxic merry-go-round. 

Regulation of PFAS substances has finally begun, but the pace is painfully slow. The EPA has announced its intention to issue regulatory limits on PFAS in drinking water by the end of 2023. Some manufacturers (3M and others) have announced their intention to eliminate PFAS and related substances from their products by 2025. Some European and Asian governments have banned a variety of PFCs, including PFAS, from products manufactured in their countries – but not none have banned the import of PFAS-containing products. Until PFCs and PFAS are banned by all countries, every citizen should be able to purchase affordable and toxin-free goods.

Complicating efforts to avoid PFAS-containing products is the lack of labeling requirements. Unlike allergy labeling on foods and beverages, there is no requirement to inform consumers about the presence of PFAS or any other PFC that is in, on, or may have touched a product. Not even if the product is used by an infant or a seriously ill person. In a study by The Silent Spring Institute, labels from 99 different product categories known to include both PFAS-containing and PFAS-free options were evaluated – product categories that would allow consumers to make a safe choice. The result? None of the PFAS-containing products included labeling disclosed the presence of PFAS, eliminating the possibility of making a safer purchase. Worse, the PFAS-free products had no consistent standard or verification for the claim of being PFAS-free. This is consistent with the findings of a different study published by the American Chemical Society. Researchers in that study examined 37 “green” products, and despite the claims of being “green,” PFAS was found in the coating, packaging, or the product itself for all 37 items.

Until there is true oversight of PFAS and all related substances, manufacturers are able to add the “PFAS-free” label to their products without regulated standards or penalties. Some may self-certify, while others may have their products tested by a laboratory or apply to a third-party organization for PFAS-free verification. Two reputable organizations maintaining lists of PFAS-free products, retailers, and packaging policies are listed below:

While the world waits for regulators and consumer protection agencies to impose PFAS exposure limits and testing requirements, individual consumers must protect their health and the health of their loved ones. The power of purchase is in our hands. Support ethical merchants by favoring the vendors, retailers, brands, and manufacturers who verify products as PFAS-free by third-party testing or verification. Champion the organizations working to advance PFAS-free technologies and PFAS regulation. Stop the toxic merry-go-round and give our children the gift of a healthier world.


About the Authors:

Allison A. Sakara, NP, MSN, RN, PHRN, is a nurse practitioner with decades of experience in pediatrics,  hematology/oncology, and disaster response. Allison is the Co-Founder & Executive Director of the High Alert Institute, a 501c3 not-for-profit educational public charity dedicated to providing disaster readiness education and resources to unserved and underserved communities, industries, and charitable organizations in an All Hazards, One Health/One Nature, One Framework paradigm. Learn more about the High Alert Institute at


Alyssa Middleton, Ph.D., has over 20 years of experience working with cancer patients and their families and conducting cancer research. She is the co-author of Five Bugles Institute’s PFAS remediation and replacement educational program. Learn more about Five Bugles Institute’s research at


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