Thursday, February 11, 2010

WEM administrator named to national FEMA advisory committee

February 11, 2010 - Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) Administrator Ed Wall is one of two state emergency management directors named to a national board that provides oversight and direction on FEMA disaster assistance programs for individuals and families.

The FEMA Individual Assistance Program Board reviews the operational impact of FEMA's Individual Assistance (IA) Policies to ensure consistent program implementation. This includes providing guidance and recommendations for FEMA programs and policies that are designed to help those in need during a federal disaster declaration.

The 33-member board meets at least twice a year. In addition to the two state directors, members include emergency management professionals who work at the federal and local levels, as well as federal liaisons with volunteer agencies and tribal nations.

In the last three years, Wisconsin has received two federal disaster declarations for flooding and severe storms. In 2008, more than 40,000 individuals or families applied for federal disaster assistance following major flooding in southern Wisconsin.

Gov. Jim Doyle named Wall as administrator of WEM in September 2009. Wall was a full time law enforcement officer for 25 years, serving as Special Agent in Charge with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation at the time of his appointment by Doyle.

Military Olympians: Solider Shoots for Olympic First

By Tim Hipps
Special to American Forces Press Service

Feb. 11, 2010 - Army Sgt. Jeremy Teela has returned to the site of the best performance of his three-time Olympic career with sights set on becoming the first U.S. biathlete ever to win an Olympic medal. Teela, a soldier in the Army's World Class Athlete Program, finished third in the men's 20-kilometer individual race at last season's World Cup stop in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. The XXI Olympic Winter Games are scheduled for Feb. 12-28, based in Vancouver, British Columbia. The biathlon -- a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting – will be held in Whistler.

Teela said he remembers the March 11, 2009 race as if it were yesterday. "That was my day," he said. "I made as close to a perfect race as I could.

"I got down the course and was maybe a half-kilometer out, and Coach was there saying, 'You're in second place.' And I was like, 'No stuff, second place, huh?' I always thought if somebody told me I was podium bound, I would have this extra kick in me – but I had nothing. I was fighting... just going as hard as I could."

With his third-place finish, Teela became the first American biathlete to win a World Cup medal since Josh Thompson in 1992.

"I was coming in second but there was this one German kid who also was having a great race," Teela said. "I don't know if I could have done anything to counter his kick, but all in all, third place, I was psyched. He did get me, but that was the best performance of my career."

U.S. biathlon coach Per Nilsson was impressed with Teela's poise under pressure.

"I am really amazed how 'cool' he was on the shooting range," Nilsson said. "There were two shots that were pretty close to a miss, but nevertheless, he stayed focused and just put his race together."

Teela, 33, who trains in Heber City, Utah, and claims Anchorage as home, expects unprecedented success this year at Whistler. His 14th-place individual finish at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Soldier Hollow remains the second-best U.S. finish at the Olympics.

"I think a podium is within reach," Teela said. "I showed it last year at Vancouver, but you really have to have the mindset. Your mind has to be in the right spot. I think a podium is in the cards for the team. We have four guys that are strong. And even the relay, I think we have a great shot at podium in that competition as well."

He will be competing at the Vancouver Games with Tim Burke, who medaled twice on the 2009-2010 World Cup circuit since Teela's third-place finish at Whistler. Burke, 27, of Paul Smiths, N.Y., headlines this U.S. Olympic biathlon squad, joined by Teela, four-time Olympian Jay Hakkinen, 32, of Kasilof, Alaska, Lowell Bailey, 28, of Lake Placid, N.Y., and first-timer Wynn Roberts, 21, of Battle Creek, Minn.

"You try to be the best that day," Teela said. "You don't have to be the best in the world. All you have to do is be the best at the Olympics on that day.

"I've got two jackets. I want the hardware."

Teela says he's honored to represent soldiers and their families worldwide.

"It's an amazing opportunity given to you to be able to race and compete at the Olympics and to represent the United States, but it's also special for me to race and compete for the Army," he said. "It's hard to explain – just to show up and have so many people rooting for you.

"You show up and you race alone, but there's been a lot of people along the road that's helped you get to where you are. I've got a big, strong team behind me that says U.S. Army on it."

(Tim Hipps works for Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command public affairs.)

Nurse Aids Patients in Haiti

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Joe McFadden
Special to American Forces Press Service

Feb. 11, 2010 - The massive earthquake that struck Haiti Jan. 12 changed the lives of countless people forever. Perhaps no one group has been more exposed to the bare humanity of the disaster than the medics who were on the forefront, providing lifesaving care to those who survived the magnitude 7 earthquake.

Air Force Maj. Jon Earles, one of four critical care nurses with the 1st Special Operations Support Squadron here, treated more than 100 patients during his time in Haiti Jan. 21 through 24, working with other medical technicians at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Before the five-hour flight to Haiti, Earles said he had an idea of what the quake-stricken island would look like.

"I saw the devastation in pictures and on TV, but it was pretty surreal to see it when we were flying over or driving through a city," he said. "There would be one building still standing and 10 in a row were completely leveled. It reminded me of when I saw a building get imploded in Las Vegas. They were that flat."

The quake's aftermath also took its toll on the country's hospitals, with few left to accommodate the large number of survivors needing treatment.

"There were thousands of people just outside the embassy," he said. "The medical facilities still standing were overwhelmed."

Despite his team's willingness to help, they faced limitations from the quantity of resources to meet the needs of so many patients.

"We were not built for that type of sustained mission, to see patient after patient," Earles said. "The supply chain from the [1st Special Operations Wing] was what kept us going, otherwise we would have run out of supplies the first day."

Using the embassy as their central site to treat patients, military medical teams set up the building's conference room for surgeries. Part of Earles' critical care nurse training taught him to perform surgery in any area of opportunity, no matter the conditions. Teams had to use lounge chairs for operations instead of the preferred hospital operating table.

Prior to the arrival of medical teams, survivors were treated with whatever crude resources were available.

"I heard a lot about the Civil War-type medical conditions, with people using hacksaws and no anesthetics for amputations," Earles said.

While his medical teams traveled with all the necessary narcotics and anesthetics to medicate all their patients appropriately, Earles had to treat patients who had already received care from people not surgically trained.

"Some of the people who performed amputations weren't surgeons, and that's something you don't want to see," he said. "We saw some people with bones sticking out with no dressing on it."

Many victims who had amputations and spinal cord injuries will require more help for the rest of their lives, Earles said.

One of the cases that stood out, he recalled, was a woman pulled out of a wrecked hotel who had both of her arms amputated.

"She was a beautiful, young woman and she was left with no arms," he said. "I kept thinking, 'How is she going to feed herself? Who is she going to have to take care of her?' You wonder what's going to happen to her. We have all these social services in the States where people undergo amputations and later get prosthetics. She's not going to have any of that."

Earles said the devastation made him think of all the things he had back home.

"They're without drinkable water and have little to eat," he said. "It's incredible what hardships the people there are going through."

Earles returned here Jan. 24, but was awaiting the call to go back to Haiti and help others.

"No matter how much you do, you wish you could do more because there's such a great need there," he said. "I was only there a short time, but I'm glad we were able to help the people we did."

(Air Force Airman 1st Class Joe McFadden serves with the 1st Special Operations Wing public affairs.)