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



Water Water Everywhere and Not a (Safe) Drop to Drink

by | Dec 1, 2022

Water Water Everywhere and Not a (Safe) Drop to Drink


Authors: Allison A. Sakara, NP, MSN, RN, PHRN & Mark Goldfeder, MS, NRP


In the words of the United States Attorney General Merrick Garland, “clean water is a right.” But is that right being protected? And how effective are those actions? Reports on the national news of a city or town facing a contaminated water crisis are all too frequent. Residents cannot use the water in their homes for cooking or bathing, let alone drinking. City and county-wide boil water orders lasting weeks to months have prompted the federal government to sanction, fine or even take control of municipal water departments in the interest of public safety.  However, even when the boil water orders are lifted and the community’s water is declared “safe,” another threat remains: PFAS (the abbreviation for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance).  


In our previous article, we discussed how airborne PFAS has become an omnipresent risk to humans, animals, plants, and habitats. PFAS in the air is also a source of PFAS contamination of our water supply, entering this precious resource in number of ways, as below:

  • transported by falling rain and snow into tributaries, contaminating watersheds 
  • airborne particles contaminated with PFAS fall into the surface water of ponds, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs
  • PFAS contaminated particles land on hardscapes and are washed into storm drains, in addition to seeping into wells.


But it is not just PFAS in the air that contributes to PFAS in water. Another way that PFAS enters our water systems is by going down the drain. Washing, scrubbing, and rinsing products that contain PFAS contribute significantly. PFAS has been used for decades not only to provide non-stick surfaces on many products but as a flame retardant, to preserve color, and to reduce staining on many types of surfaces. 


When you purchase a product labeled ‘’PBA-free’’, this is not the same as being PFAS-free. Cookware, food containers, clothing, and textiles are all common PFAS-containing consumer products. Plastics of all varieties, from water bottles to drainage pipes, are a source of PFAS contamination. Many household and commercial flooring, furnishing, and building material options also incorporate PFAS. Firefighters use a PFAS-containing foam to extinguish fuel fires from motor vehicles and other sources. Once the fire is out, the foam that remains on the vehicle and other surfaces is rinsed onto the ground. The PFAS-contaminated rinse water then flows into nearby drains or can be absorbed into and contaminate the ground soil. (The challenges of PFAS contamination of soil will be discussed in our next article.)


While airborne PFAS is an environmental hazard with a significant impact on climate change and low to moderate direct health risk, water-borne PFAS has been shown to have significant adverse health effects. PFAS in water sources has been shown to elevate cholesterol levels, increase rates of heart attacks, and increase death rates from all causes, including cancer.


Research studies of significant PFAS water contamination cases have traced the contamination to waste from manufacturers of PFAS-containing products, poisoning communities near the manufacturing plant and impacting the water safety for hundreds of square miles. These large-scale contaminations have resulted in lawsuits and hundreds of millions of dollars in fines against PFAS manufacturers that allowed wastewater to flow into water drains, precipitating environmental damage and creating health hazards. 


Municipal and private water systems have attempted to remove PFAS from water using various technologies. PFAS chemicals were designed to create non-adherent surfaces and to resist many substances. And these same properties are what make them nearly impossible to remove from our water sources. Boiling the water has no impact on PFAS contamination. Activated charcoal filters, ion exchange resin filters, reverse osmosis systems, UV light sanitation, membrane separation, and microbe-based approaches have been tried alone and in various combinations. Unfortunately, research has shown these methods to be ineffective. 


So what can be done? Being aware of the PFAS problem and knowing ways to reduce your own health risks is a start. Simple product choices, such as using well-washed stainless steel travel bottles and thermoses, are a start. The only true solution, though, is to remove the contamination from the source. Our strength will be in our numbers if we back legislation to increase PFAS testing of water sources, promote PFAS alternatives in manufacturing and consumer products, and support environmental groups advocating for removal of PFAS from our natural resources.


About the Authors:

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


Mark Goldfeder, MS, NRP is the Founder and President of Five Bugles Institute, a provider of safety, leadership, and technical education nationally for over a decade.  He 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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