Monthly Archives: September 2010

Continued form the VA Disaster Drill inspired blog………

Well Part III will be short and sweet so to speak.  The four lessons learned at the VA Drill are pretty straight forward I think.  Yet we in EmComms and Emergency Managers in all services can’t seem to learn them. 

It is assumed that when the “balloon goes up” or the “alarm sounds” that communications will be there and it will work.  Why?  Because it has always worked and because it is always there:  a circular argument.  In other words communications is taken for granted.  

And because it is taken for granted, in a lot of Emergency Services groups have designated Radio Communications to the glass case with “break in case of emergency”, only to be used when their cell phone quits or internet connection is lost.  So there is no use of the asset and no one to exploit the asset until “everything else fails” and you become the comms expert because “you’re the guy with the working radio”.  

You can see this with most EmComms groups:  They “train” for a mission that either doesn’t exist or for a served agency who has them in the glass box and doesn’t know their true value because they don’t exercise them in a realistic method. 

You see this with most disaster plans:  When a agency or entity sees that their might be a need for an alternate emergency communication method they don’t consider everything needed to fully utilize that asset.  Case in point, the Region Hospital “doomsday radio box”; containing an HF, VHF and two VHF hand held radios, lots of great toys in a nice waterproof box.  Yet there is no power supply, woops forgot that, and in most cases, no one who knows how to use the radios! 

You can see this in our preparation for emergencies when we do drill by how we drill.  We don’t play it for real.  We ignore lessons learned from the past.  We can only work from the cookie cutter approach of one shape for all disasters.  So when a problem occurs we don’t know how to react, correct or compensate for the problem when it is for real. 

Am I being down on all EmComms?  No.  I am just relating what I have seen as a result of the assumption that EmComms will work because it has been taken for granted, assumed it will work because it is part of the plan, that someone will be able to pull a rabbit from a hat and make magic on the day when it is needed and that when those problems come up we will have trained for those problems and be able to concur them.  

I am saying that the SET exercise on this Saturday is realistic; it is patterned after a real event.  It includes some of the EOTWAWKI things that happened in Kentucky last year. And yet as I listen to ARES folks, Ham Operators and Emergency Services people most of who still talk about pre deploying assets or where to deploy or how to deploy I am saying that there are still a bunch of people who don’t get it. 

 Learn from past experiences, make your training real, work with your served agency in real time, understand how to exploit your asset and most important COMMUNICATE with those whom you will be working with during the real thing. 

PLEASE train like you will play.  It will make all the difference in winning on game day vs. having showed up and becoming a spontaneous volunteer.

“A good shot must necessarily be a good man since the essence of good marksmanship is self-control and self-control is the essential quality of a good man.” – Colonel Jeff Cooper

Credit Photos to Larry Morse, Heartland Training Team.

I spent Saturday at the Egyptian Rifle and Pistol Club outside of Marion, IL at an Appleseed Shoot.  You may recall that Matthew and I went to an Appleseed at Carmi last year (link here).  Once again, I had an absolute blast learning basic rifleman skills.  There were about 23-25 shooters on the line at Marion on Saturday with a wide range of ages, guns and experience.  We were instructed by three RWVA Appleseed instructors: Wurstmacher, Missouri Brigade and NoFoMoHo.  Those are their call signs, handles, or board names form the Appleseed Forum, a discussion board for all things Appleseed.

Once again, I can’t say enough good things about the instruction given by the Appleseed volunteers.  These folks come and give of their time and experience to help all shooters learn and grow as riflemen and also share the history of the Rifleman from April 19, 1775.  The history is just as important as the shooting in my opinion.  Being my second shoot, I figured I would hear the same stories, and to my surprise I didn’t.  They were just as interesting and just as informative as the history I heard at the first shoot.  I ordered a couple of the books that Wurstmacher referenced in his speaking when I got home so that I could read more in depth the history behind the shoot.

As good as the history is, the instruction on the shooting is top of the line.  As related to us by Larry Morse with the Heartland Training Team, and I believe our host at the range, the level of instruction on shooting provided by Appleseed would cost one hundreds if not thousands of dollars at some of the big shooting schools.  I would go just a bit further and say that it is better instruction than most of the big shooting schools.  For two reasons if no others:  1) the kids, the next generation, are treated as equals and as important as any shooter on the line and 2) there is no “requirement” for a high dollar gun or scope or what ever, come as you are with what you got.  You get the same attention to detail no matter how you’re equipped, that attention to the details of BASIC Rifleman Techniques, the 6 steps to firing a shot, is all that makes the difference.  No gimmicks, no special equipment, no sales pitch for the latest and greatest whatever:  just pay attention to the details of the 6 steps and you to can shoot like a Rifleman.

I improved greatly from my first shoot to this one and shot a 208 on the AQT, missing Rifleman by 2 pts.  I have no doubt that I would have got it on Sunday but church activities prohibited me from being there.  If farming allows, maybe I can sneak off to Evansville later in October and try it again.  We will see…..

If you have never been to an Appleseed, want to teach your kids or learn basic shooting techniques, or have a great day as a family shooting and doing something outdoors, find an Appleseed and attend.  Women, children under 21, and active military and guard shoot free.  You can’t beat that price anywhere.  Not for the FUN, HISTORY and SKILLS that will be given to you at the end of the day…………

Special thanks to Wurstmacher, NoFoMoHo and Missouri Brigade for the instruction, Larry Morse for being a great host and to the Egyptian Rifle and Pistol Club for the facility!  You all did a great job!

See you on the line!

Busy, Busy, Busy…………….

Took this picture with my new Blackberry, had to replace the other one but made it two years before it started to loose the magic smoke that makes it work.  This morning its kind of overcast as we are hoping it will rain!  The beans are just starting to turn yellow, so we have a while yet until we cut them………all my beans are about like this.

I will finish up the Communications Blog Part III over the weekend and then make a report on the Marion Appleseed Shoot and then get back to Agriculture……..

I hope.

As I said in the first part of this series, Lessons 3 and 4 were realized after the fact or after the exercise was done.  When there is time for reflection on things said and things done and you can connect the dots you do end up with a gee whiz moment. 

Lesson #3 comes from a conversation with one of the drill participants after the drill.  In talking about the drill he commented that the scenario wasn’t very realistic.  OK I thought, so you didn’t like the training, or that things didn’t go your way and therefore it wasn’t planned right.  So I bit and asked “why not?”  May 8th was the answer. 

For those who don’t know, May 8th 2009 was the “inland hurricane” that marched down, for the better part, St Rt 13 in Southern Illinois.  Very intense wind and rain in a circular motion like a hurricane complete with an “eye”.  This individual commented that the drill scenario was a building collapse based on an earthquake.  (At this point, I was waiting to connect the dots…….) If there were an earthquake strong enough to bring down the building, then it would also bring down the trees that line the road to the facility and power lines that boundary the facility.  Just like May 8th.  He went on to explain that on May 8th the facility was an “island surrounded by down trees and power lines. No one could get in or out of the facility”. 

Upon leaving the facility I noticed that the trees are still lining the roads and the power lines are back up in the air on new power poles.  

Lesson #3:  If you don’t learn from past experience and incorporate that into you training plan, then you’re doomed to repeat the experience of the past in a future event. 

 Did we learn anything from May 8th?  In many instances I am going to say no. 

Lesson #4 is that communications is more than just radios.  No I don’t mean cell phones or faxes.  I mean if you’re not talking to your support agencies or served agencies or other entities with assets that you might plan to use in the event of an emergency then don’t be surprised if they don’t show up when you need them. 

My point here is that if you plan to call on Entity X for support in an emergency, then Entity X needs to be part of your training.  That also means that X needs to have the right set of boots on the ground during the training, not just a “representative”.  Better yet they need to show up for the training and be a part of it.  

Same thing with ARES or RACES.  If your working a drill for a served agency, then your counterparts in the served agency need to be there with you training.  Many times I have been to a drill where we have pretended that the served agency or asset is there.  In other words we are practicing for a situation in which they don’t know about nor might use us for.  Wasted time……….. 

I am real worried that many ECOMMS groups are not communicating with their served agency or asset.  I mean talking face to face, not RF to RF.  

Tomorrow I combine all four lessons to comment on the upcomming SET exercise.

The VA disaster drill I participated in with the ITECS group gave cause to think about several things ARES/RACES/CAP Comms related.  Overall we didn’t do much and there wasn’t much comms during the drill.  That’s not a problem in my book because time for observation means time to learn. 

Two observations that I made during the exercise were driven home pretty clearly and need to be explained to those who believe and don’t believe in the need for radio comms.

Two more observations gained from the exercise, but not realized until after the exercise, also drove home some pretty important points that need to be addressed. 

Then these four observations made for a reality check with regard to the Illinois ARES SET exercise, the new Illinois RACES program and to CAP communications in general.  So in this first part of most likely a three part blog I will address the first two simple observations from the exercise. 

Lesson Learned #1:  When confusion sets in, the fecal matter hits the forced air impeller and the “usual” methods of communications break down, the “guy with a radio” is the automatic go to man (or woman).  While not a “gee wiz” moment by any means it was a point driven home very clearly when in the middle of the exercise, when all was going wrong (as it appeared to me just watching) the ER nurse came running up the ITECS trailer and said she “needed us to call an ambulance”.  When we told here we were there just for support of the training and not really there she said “well, you have the radios, your communications!”.  I think we broke her heart when we told her that she needed to go about calling an ambulance via the “scenario game plan”. 

If there are no phones and no Internet and no radios that work and you hold a radio and look like you know what you’re doing, you just became the go to guy in an emergency.  The question is if this new found faith in you valid?  Can you use your radio, do you know who to contact, when to contact them and how to contact them?  Do you possess the tools and most importantly the training to be the go to guy when that badge is pinned to your shirt, like it or not and ready or not? 

What happens when you’re the only one who has a working radio?  Hams who had working radios became the go to guys during the IceQuake in Kentucky not to long ago.  Operating from their homes or vehicles these Hams became the ones who kept things together when all systems failed.

Take Home Message:  Train and prepare now………before your designated as the go to guy.

Lesson #2 All the comm assets in the world are pretty useless if no one knows how to use them.  Better yet all the comm assets in the world are useless if no one know how to use them effectively.  I said we were there to support the exercise with comms.  We passed out radios, no one used them.  We set up antennas; no RF went out of them.  People didn’t know who had a radio and who didn’t.  When you have an asset that no one is using or know how to use then your asset it pretty much in the way. 

I am in no way putting down the ITECS team, trailer or equipment.  Quite the contrary, I am saying that when you have these kinds of tools and trained people and they are not utilized then you are missing the  boat.  Yes, ITECS was there for support but even the radios passed out for support were not used. 

Communications has to be part of the plan.  As part of the plan, people have to know how to use that asset.  They have to know who has that asset and how that asset is to be used.  You can’t assume that everyone will know who has what and where and how when its time to do it for real.  That’s more than push this button to talk.  No they don’t need to know the rocket science behind radio theory, just who has them, who knows how to use them and what they are to be used for. 

Take Home Message:  Plan the work and work the plan.  Designate people to know the asset, use the asset and exploit the asset in a time of emergency. 

As I will explain in Part 2, Lesson 1 and 2 have a great bearing on what happens with Lesson 3 and 4.  And all 4 lessons have an impact on what happens when you suit up and play for real……….TRAIN LIKE YOU PLAY.

Train like you play and plan for problems so when they happen they just become part of the plan!

 Corn harvest is done!  We finished up on Thursday the 16 of September, which is the earliest we have ever been done shelling corn.  The yield was nothing spectacular coming in at a shade over 145 bu/ac.  Which is right in line with our proven yield but below our trend line.

Yields for famrers in this part of the state are all over the place.  I am hearing yields as low as 50 to as high at 207.  Sometimes within a few miles of each other.  This show what rain and hybrids can do for yields when given a chance.  It also shows what heat and no rain can do during the critical fill periods. 

Here are some final harvest pictures from this year corn crop.  We now move into getting ready to plant wheat and cut beans.  The bean cutting is a ways off, as we wait for the beans to turn.

My new deer stand might be the back porch.  This doe was eating apples off the apple tree not 30 ft from the deck in the back yard.  The dogs didn’t scare her, but the chickens would cluck at her and half way charge her and ran her off. 

As seen from the kitchen out the deck door……….

I have lots to post, when I have time!

For now we are just going back and forth……….yields are good!

Nine years ago today the United States was ATTACKED by fanatical, violent, radical extremist of Islam.  Almost 3000 of our countrymen, including hundreds of heroic first responders, were killed. 


We have been at war ever since. We are still at war, regardless of what those who profess to “lead” us in the White House and ruling party in the Congress believes. 

We will be at war until there is no enemy. Or there is no us. 


Adapted from the Michael Bane blog

Rain got here late yesterday afternoon but was not that big a deal compared to the weather guessers threats. So far about half an inch from what I can tell in the gauge.

Matthew stayed home and ran the combine yesterday and we got a lot accomplished. He is getting better at running the combine in corn with every pass and even took off 24 end rows himself yesterday.

Parts run this morning for more knives to fix the other three rows on the head so that it will all be the same now an also to tighten up a slip clutch on one row now that we have a delay.

And then we wait and see what the weather brings today………..

Current Farm Weather


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