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



The Road Less Traveled – Learning as a Positive Determinant of Mental Health

by | Oct 18, 2022

The Road Less Traveled – Learning as a Positive Determinant of Mental Health`

Author: Allison A. Sakara, NP, MSN, RN, PHRN

“No matter what is happening in life or in the world – war, natural disaster, poor health, pain, the death of loved ones – if existence is filled with art, music and literature, life will be fulfilling, a joy.” 

-Karen DeCrow

Signed into law in 2020, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act authorized 988 as the new three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and became available as a national resource in July 2022. With this increased awareness and renewed support, mental health as a determinant of health is finally taking its place alongside other critical determinants of health (DoH). Mental health as a DoH spans the range from individual to family/tribe, group to community, and regional to global. Yet attention and research into the factors that contribute to mental health, emotional resilience, and neurological potentials for mental health injury have concentrated on factors with a negative impact. Violence, crime, and exposure to warfare are ever present in the determinants of health conversation. Factors beneficial to mental health, like fostering empathy and instilling neuroresilience, receive far less recognition.

Fostering Empathy Through Shared Learning Experiences

Empathy is often defined as “feeling through another person’s experience”. This definition is key to understanding why empathy is a DoH factor for mental health and the impact of mental health challenges. Empathy is our capacity to anticipate the emotional impact of our actions on others. Many personality disorders include the impairment or even lack of empathy as a symptom or characteristic. This correlates with greater degrees of antisocial behavior, criminality, depression, violent behavior, aggression, homicide, and suicide. In short, a lack of empathy correlates with factors that negatively impact individual and societal mental health.

Unlike many emotions, empathy can be learned and fostered. Research shows that the greater the diversity of fine arts, music, cultural, language and physical education, the greater the ability of individuals to feel and express empathy. The environment in which diverse education is delivered further impacts the ability to learn empathy. Group, aggregate, and team learning environments – online or in-person – not only foster the development of empathy as a skill but the degree to which it may be conveyed.

Empathy is also fostered by practice. The more empathy one chooses to experience today, the greater the degree and ease of expressing and experiencing empathy in the future. For example, the benefits of empathy as a skill are central to the field of disaster behavioral health (DBH). All of the major DBH interventions employ empathy as a means of connecting or reconnecting impacted individuals with providers and their communities in the wake of natural and man-made disasters.

STEAM Education as a Model for Instilling Neuroresilience

STEAM programs fill an important gap in education. The STEAM acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. These programs combine the 5 subject areas known to increase critical thinking and problem-solving skills through unique hands-on learning opportunities. Students participating in STEAM classes prepare for successful futures through exposure to left-brain or didactic skills, as well as right-brain or creative skills. Didactic skills are developed through science, technology, engineering, and mathematical activities. Creative skills are fostered through art, music, language, and physical education. Together, didactic and creative studies broaden the scope of learning and creativity, further serving to lay a solid foundation for neuroresilience.

Studies of neurorehabilitation following traumatic brain injury, stroke, intracranial bleeding, aphasia, and other neurological injury have demonstrated time and again that neuro resilience is influenced by prior learning. People with literature, language, music, fine arts, and/or athletic training (right-brain skills) plus science, math, and/or logic training (left-brain skills) recover faster and to a greater degree than those with less comprehensive educational experiences. Many experts believe that a more comprehensive educational history allows the brain in recovery to recruit previously trained neural pathways to replace damaged pathways.

New STEAM programs based on neurocognitive training technologies support recovery following adversity, regardless of the cause. In addition, such programs and related technologies may provide pathways to recovery for survivors of neurological injury, regardless of baseline – neurotypical, neurodiverse or special needs. The diverse educational nature of STEAM programs fosters empathy learning. When these programs are delivered in group or aggregate settings, online or in-person, the empathy learning is augmented. Thus, STEAM education is not only an educational DoH but a determinant of mental health and emotional resilience. 

Determinants of mental health can be positive or negative, private or societal, natural or man-made. Bearing in mind the All Hazards/One Health/One Framework paradigm, however, the fostering of empathy and the application of technology aimed at promoting neuro resilience can mitigate the impact of many factors. Further, this same skill set can provide additional avenues to support mental health and recovery from neurological insults for persons of all ages.


Join the Institute
Stay informed and get updates.

*We do NOT share your information with any other sites or organizations.

High Alert Institute

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

Privacy Policy

Cookie Policy

Terms of Use


Get Your Data

Shipping Policy

Message Us



Do Not Sell Info

Return Policy