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.


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