Sunday, February 27, 2011

We Lost a Father, a Friend, and Hero

That was the subject line of a sad e-mail that I received today.  We did indeed lose a friend, a hero, and a father figure to many of us.

The e-mail informed us that Wm. "Bill" Vargas passed away last night, peacefully and from natural causes.  
Bill was a legend in our business and a dear friend to all of us at All Hands.  In his memory, I thought it would be appropriate to recap his career, based on his excellent resume.  Bill, you will be missed by us all. Those of us that knew you well, know what a large hole you leave in our profession and was a leader you were over the years as new concepts in search and rescue and incident management were under development.
Bill Vargas had over forty years of experience in our business, having served in the military and as an an administrator in both federal and state government.  Bill worked for us from the beginning of All Hands as a consultant and instructor.  Bill was our though leader on all things incident management and search and rescue.  His extensive experience and education as an academic instructor was a huge help to us in developing instructional programs.  Bill was able to teach us how to be our best and lead the work to develop the "All Hands way" of teaching ICS. Bill inspired confidence in all of us and was a dear friend. He will be missed by us all. 

Bill's Resume

Bill served in the United States Army in Airborne Infantry where he was a NCO and Mountain Climbing School instructor.  He attained the rank of Chief Master Sergeant (E-9), and retired from military service.  As a U.S. Air Force Pararescueman, he served as team member and supervisor, culminating as Commandant of the USAF Pararescue School during last 4 years of service.  In this role he was a true leader in the development of the pararescue program.

Bill moved to the New Mexico State Police where he was the State Search and Rescue (SAR) Office Chief.  Bill was the driving force in mandating, by Governor’s Executive Order, the implementation of the National Interagency Incident Management System (NIIMS) Incident Command System (ICS) during all state emergency operations.  Bill was an author of NIIMS, which he often referred to as "two-eyed NIIMS" after the National Incident Incident Management System ("one-eyed" NIMS) was published.

Bill was the initiator and Task Force Leader of the first New Mexico Urban Search and Rescue Task Force (one of the 25 original FEMA national Task Forces developed to support the Federal Response Plan).  He also served five years on the state Hazardous Materials Emergency Management Task Force, which developed the Statewide plan for response to hazardous materials incidents.  Served on the Governor's State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) and was a Member of the Statewide EMS Advisory Committee for 9 years.  Served 10 years on the board of directors of the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR).

Bill was a member of the following orgainzations:
  • National Emergency Management Association (NEMA)
  • Board of Directors of the National Institute for Urban Search and Rescue
  • Life member of the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR)
  • President of the National Pararescue Association
  • Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE)
  • International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM)
  • National ICS Curriculum Development Steering Committee
  • National Interagency Fire Center
  • National Instructor Trainer Team.  
Bill was also an excellent instructor and teacher.  Bill taught incident command and search and rescue curriculum for federal, state, and local governmental agencies as well as private corporations.  He was an evangelist when it came to the merits of adopting ICS as their management system for all types of emergency response.  Was consulted in the development of the Department of Defense (DOD) Nuclear Biological Chemical (NBC) Delta ICS curriculum and taught as an adjunct instructor for NASAR and at the FEMA Emergency Management Institute.  Bill was also an adjunct faculty member for numerous State Emergency Management Agencies, the New Mexico Fire Fighters Academy, Federal Department of Energy, Central Training Academy, and the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What UASI Cities would be impacted by the proposed reduction to 25 cities on the list?

One recent news paper headline read: 

Victory! New York to Receive Increase in Anti-Terrorism Funding

The story indicates that Representatives Nita Lowey and Steve Israel announced that an amendment has passed the House that would enable New York City to receive more anti-terrorism funding. Under the new amendment, the story reports, grant recipients of the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) would be limited to 25 of the highest-risk cities in the nation.
"I am pleased this amendment passed to ensure UASI grants benefit highest-risk cities and will work to ensure the Senate passes this provision and President Obama signs it into law," said Lowey.

Based on the 2010 allocations, which may change due to new risk calculation formulas, the following top UASI cities would appear to be safe.  However, the impact of new risk formula is not yet understood. The two lists below are in order based on the 2010 allocations as announced almost a year ago...
  1. New York City 
  2. Los Angeles/Long Beach
  3. National Capital Region
  4. Chicago
  5. Bay Area 
  6. Houston 
  7. Jersey City/Newark 
  8. Dallas/Forth Worth 
  9. Philadelphia
  10. Boston 
  11. San Diego 
  12. Atlanta 
  13. Detroit 
  14. Anaheim 
  15. Seattle 
  16. Miami 
  17. Baltimore
  18. Phoenix 
  19. St Louis 
  20. Twin Cities
  21. Las Vegas 
  22. Tampa 
  23. Memphis 
  24. Kansas City 
  25. Norfolk 
The cities that would presumably be left of the funding list are the following:
  1. Portland 
  2. Indianapolis 
  3. Denver 
  4. Pittsburgh 
  5. San Antonio 
  6. Fort Lauderdale 
  7. Buffalo 
  8. New Orleans 
  9. El Paso
  10. Jacksonville 
  11. Riverside 
  12. Cleveland 
  13. Orlando 
  14. Cincinnati 
  15. Providence 
  16. Honolulu
  17. Charlotte 
  18. Tucson 
  19. Oklahoma City 
  20. Columbus 
  21. Milwaukee 
  22. Sacramento 
  23. San Juan 
  24. Baton Rouge
  25. Austin 
  26. Salt Lake City 
  27. Nashville 
  28. Bridgeport 
  29. Hartford 
  30. Richmond 
  31. Oxnard 
  32. Rochester 
  33. Toledo 
  34. Louisville 
  35. Tulsa 
  36. Bakersfield 
  37. Omaha 
  38. Albany
  39. Syracuse
The final outcome of UASI will depend on the Senate and the final resolution of the Continuing Resolution and 2011 budget in conference committee. However the proposed changes will loom over the 2010 UASI award process and likely be a topic of discussion at the upcoming UASI & Homeland Security Conference.

One can anticipate that the various representatives of the 39 cities will be active participants in the ensuing national conversation on how best to protect high-risk cities.

Note: I tried to keep opinions out of this but any expressed or inferred are my own and no one else's.