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Notes from the desk of the Sponsoring Agency Chief 

On behalf of the Mayor and City Council, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the City of Philadelphia.

The citizens of Philadelphia have a great deal of pride in their city and we welcome Pennsylvania Task Force One with the same pride for your mission. We are certainly glad to have you here in the city of Philadelphia and we plan to make this a proud home for you.

I’m so very pleased at the work that the entire Task Force did to ensure a smooth transfer of assets, talent and operations

from Harrisburg to Philadelphia. There is an absolute transfer of the pride and hard work that the City of Harrisburg invested in building our team to what it is today. Also, without the help of the former Sponsoring Agency Chief Konkle and the support of Chief Talloni currently, I would have had a much more difficult time during this all-important but stressful period for the Task Force.

Things are really buzzing at 6601 New State Rd. As we would imagine, the building out of our new space, the negotiations with so many vendors, the monitoring of the budget and spending, the information technology build-out, the careful acceptance, transport and maintenance of the cache, and all of this accomplished with minimal affect on our readiness capability. I’d like to send out a special thank you to the key administrative staff members who worked diligently and supported all efforts to ensure that continued readiness.

To the veterans of the Task Force I say thank you for your service and continued professionalism as we move forward. To our new additions to the Task Force, I say welcome aboard and thank you for becoming a part of one of America’s key resources when it comes to technical rescue during hard and unimaginable times.

My goal is to continue to support Pennsylvania Task Force One and all of its goals and initiatives to become the best that they can possibly be.

All the best and welcome Home!

 

Change… from the Program Manager:

The word by itself is very powerful; it invokes a myriad of emotions and effects each of us differently. The only common denominator each of us has when it comes to change is that we have the ability to decide on how we are going to face it.  We can choose to avoid it or embrace it; we can be a part of it or distance ourselves from it.  In any event the decision is indeed each of ours to make.  The reason I have chosen to write about change is that we as a collective group (PA-TF1) have experienced a considerable amount of it over the past twelve months.

Transitioning sponsoring agencies from Harrisburg to Philadelphia has not only been a monumental change, it has also been a change that required a true commitment, hard decisions, lots of work and sweat equity from the entire team.  As is the case in most changes there have been rumors, this is in part due to less then desirable avenues of communication, it is a top priority of the Administrative Staff,

Task Force Representative (TFR) and Sponsoring Agency Chief  (SAC) to improve in this area and design more effective channels of communication.  The biggest rumor thus far has been the availability of the task force.  I can attest that PA-TF1 has not been out of service a single day during the entire transition. We remain today a dependable and deployable Federal Asset.  A request was made by the SAC to FEMA Headquarters to move PA-TF1 from Fully Deployable Status to Conditionally Available Status after physical relocation of the cache and offices began.

Staying available during the move took many hours of planning and placed a heavy burden on the Logistics component. As always, they stepped up and completed their assignment ahead of schedule, in a safe and efficient manner.  Each member of PA-TF1 can take pride in knowing that we, as a team have accomplished a feat that had never been done before in the Federal US&R system. 

     This in and of itself  can be attributed to the commitment, forethought, hard work and vision of everyone who has helped make PA-TF1 the sound and resilient organization we are recognized as today.  While there is still much work to be done, the vast majority of the transition is behind us and we are returning to normal workflows.

     In closing, I believe PA-TF1 will emerge a stronger and more efficient Federal resource ready to respond, with improved processes and procedures.

       The Administrative staff would like to say THANK YOU to all of the members of PA-TF1 for your patience, commitment and dedication;

     we look forward to working with everyone as we move further along this journey.

 

Grants Corner - Travel Policy Highlights

With the transition of Sponsoring Agencies, many changes have occurred administratively within PA-TF1.  These changes are necessary in order to conform with the Sponsoring Agency’s Policies and Procedures. Travel & travel reimbursement policy and associated forms are new to many of our members.  The previous PA-TF1 reimbursement form is not accepted by the City of Philadelphia as adequate documentation of expenses.  The new forms and instructions will be posted at members.patf1.org.  The current mileage rate is .555 cents

per mile, in accordance with city policy.  The city has adopted the Federal Government Maximum Per Diem Rate for reimbursement.  Rates in excess of the maximum published rate for that location are not reimbursable unless it is associated with attendance at a scheduled professional function, trade association, or educational meeting.  Members are responsible to hold and pay for lodging.  Overnight lodging in areas less than 50 miles from a residence will NOT be allowed.  Certain exceptions to this rule apply, Always call the Task Force

    before booking rooms.  The Task Force will book all airfare, rail, or bus transportation via the city contracted travel agency.  If car rental is required, the city requires  authorization and justification demonstrating that rental is more economical than taxi fares.  Reimbursable costs for car rental include: applicable taxes, and collision damage or loss damage waiver.  Liability insurance, personal effects insurance, etc., are not reimbursable.  Please call Brian Booth, the Program Grants Manager, at (215) 683-9245 for clarification; or if you have any questions regarding travel or reimbursement.

Please join the Task Force Operations Group and Leadership in welcoming

Mike Whalen and Marty Nevil as new Task Force Leaders with PA Task Force One!

Lieutenant Mike Whalen is a 27 year veteran of the Philadelphia Fire Department, serving the first 10 yrs in various engine and ladder companies. In 1991 he was assigned to Rescue 1; at that time, the Philadelphia Fire Department's only Special Operations Company. In 1996 Mike was promoted to Lieutenant. In 2006 he returned to Rescue 1 assigned to the "D" platoon. Mike is currently assigned to Ladder 13, in Southwest Philadelphia on the A Platoon. 

Within PA-TF1, Mike has served in the positions of Rescue Specialist (RS), Rescue Squad Officer (RSO), Rescue Team Manager (RTM) and Alternate Task Force Leader.  Mike has served at the national level on the White Incident Support Team as a US&R Specialist and currently as the Deputy Operations Section Chief.  He has deployed as a member of PA –TF1 on multiple deployments since 1999.

Mike is a life long resident of the City of Philadelphia has two adult children.

Marty Nevil served as the PA –TF1 Program Manager from 2006 – 2011 and has been supporting the Task Force transition to Philadelphia. Marty recently retired as the Manager of Urban Search & Rescue & WMD with the Dauphin County Emergency Management Agency and is employed by Harrisburg Area Community College as an adjunct instructor, and PA TF-1 Task Force Leader.

Marty’s background includes experience in the Emergency Medical and Fire Service over the past 30 years, serving in all ranks through Assistant Chief. In addition Mr. Nevil has employment experience in the Nuclear Power Industry, Radiation-Waste Management Program and Municipal Code Enforcement. Marty serves as an adjunct instructor with several local, state and federal training institutions and as an Adjunct Instructor at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg Maryland.

In the US&R Program Marty has served as a Haz-Mat Specialist, (HMS) Technical  Team Manager, (TTM) as well as a Plans Team Manager (PTM) and Alternate Task Force Leader. He has served on the WMD Work Group and has recently Co Chaired the Technology Ad HOC Work Group of the National US&R System. He is the current Plans Section Chief, on the Blue National US&R Incident Support Team. He has deployed as a Member of PA –TF1 on multiple deployments since 1999.

Marty lives in Central Pennsylvania and is the father of two children.

Everbridge Notification System

The Task Force now uses the Everbridge Notification System for all availability checks. Everbridge makes it easier for each member to reply with their availability status. It allows you, as the member, to now receive notifications via SMS text messaging and up to two different e-mail addresses; as well as a recorded message to your cell phone.

Please note: Everbridge will display as telephone number 717-999-1111 on your caller ID screen. Do not block or ignore any calls coming from that number. It may be a good

idea to save this phone number in the contacts of your cell phone as “PA-TF1 Notification System” if you have not done so already.

When answering the phone, use a 3-5 second greeting; for example, your name and Pennsylvania Task Force One. In the beginning of the notification Everbridge references the South Central Task Force, and then goes on to reference Pennsylvania Task Force One. Please continue to listen to the entire message and be sure to acknowledge the notification at the end.

    Occasionally the Everbridge System will require your Employee ID Number.  Your Employee ID or PIN Number is the same as it has always been. It is the first letter of your last name and the last four digits of your Social Security Number. For Example, John Smith with a Social Security Number of 123-45-6789 would have a PIN Number/Employee ID of S6789.

If the Everbridge System has notified you via the incorrect phone number, please notify Administrative Assistant Lexi Passaro.

Annual Medical Evaluations on the Horizon

The Administrative Staff of the Task Force in coordination with the Sponsoring Agency, is finalizing the contract for Medical Evaluations for members of PA-TF1. As we prepare to roll out our new agreement with Concentra, it is imperative that members know their roles and responsibilities as we move forward.

The US&R Program Office Staff in Washington, DC conducted an Operational Technical Assistance Visit (OTAV) the first week of September. With the pending contract nearing resolution, the OTAV Team was told that all PA-TF1 members who are now out of currency with the medical examination requirement will be back in compliance and listed as Deployable by November 15, 2012.

In order to accomplish this goal,we need you, the members, once notified, to not delay in setting up and completing required physicals. The Administrative Staff will identify members in critical positions (those position / personnel needed to get PA-TF1 to 140 fully deployable personnel) who will be immediately tasked with completing their physicals. Once these members are medically cleared, PA-TF1 can return to fully deployable status. We will then begin to cycle remaining members through the process, until all personnel have completed their evaluations. Your timeliness and cooperation in completing this objective is critical to the operation and deploy-ability of the Task Force.

    

TASK FORCE TRAINING UPDATES

A lot of movement has been occurring in the Task Force related to training and training needs. Both short and long term Strategic Training Plan development has been undertaken.

Lt. Ivan Lopez was appointed as the Task Force Training Manager in early September. He has hit the ground running, coordinating several Task Force Members FEMA required program attendance. At the request of the Task Force Operations Group, the Sponsoring Agency Chief stood up the Strategic Training Plan Ad Hoc Work Group. they have been charged with solidifying a training and exercise calendar for the remainder of the FEMA FY 2011 Cooperative Agreement (current date to March 31, 2013). The Ad Hoc 

Work Group has started the process of developing a comprehensive Strategic Training Plan for the years 2013-2018 as well. This plan will encompass all aspects of Task Force operations with the stated mission and purpose of “Improving the Task Force workforce performance, enabling PA Task Force One to achieve excellence in all aspects of mission execution.” As we move forward with updates to the Task Force Training Program, you can expect to see updates in this news letter from the Training Manager.

 
Send with questions or comments.
Last modified: 07/01/14
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