Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Planning a Summit is Hard Work

Today’s blog comes from Joseph Urrea, the Tribal Liaison for the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs. Joe has over 13 years of emergency management experience. He has worked with the Native American Tribes and various Indian Health Service agencies in Arizona in all phases of emergency management--preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. Joe is sharing his experience planning a Tribal Summit.

And it Begins... February 9

A little over a month ago I was asked to present a Tribal Emergency Management update at an Arizona Department of Health Service (ADHS) Public Health Emergency Preparedness event scheduled later this year. I jumped at the chance and said absolutely!

Five weeks later I’m holding the first internal planning meeting for an all-day event that I’m now planning–yikes!

For the meeting today, I’ll ask each section to discuss what they do to assist the Tribes in Arizona and explain to everyone who I’ve already contacted to speak (State Representatives and Senator McCain, Gila River, Salt River Pima-Maricopa).  I hope this is a good meeting and folks walk away excited about the Summit.
Arizona Senator Carlyle Begay

Agenda, Agenda, Agenda – What’s an Agenda again? February 13

I just confirmed that David Cramer from Phoenix Indian Health Services (IHS) and the ADHS Tribal Preparedness Liaison, Luke Johnson, will both present for ADHS. This means that I have at least four speakers, two Tribal legislative updates (one State based and one Federal), and DEMA presentations for the day. Once I work in a lunch and adjust to include time for a Listening Session (a communication tool that places emphasis on listening to others – not talking at or to them but engaging in careful, concentrated, active listening) it looks like we’ll have a full day!

Now to figure out the agenda - do I want the ADHS presenters to go first and then have Gila River and Salt River Pima-Maricopa at the end of the day or vice-versa? Where would the DEMA presentations fit? Will an hour be enough time for the Tribal legislative updates? Do I need to have a working lunch? I want to open the meeting with a traditional opening invocation from a local Tribe – what is the protocol to do this? Would all the Tribes in attendance be receptive to an invocation prayer from another Tribe? Which Tribe is the correct Tribe to do this? Am I missing a group to speak? Why did I agree to do this again?

How Hard is it to Write an Invitation Letter? Really Hard! March 6

Right after the first internal planning meeting for the Tribal Emergency Management Summit back on February 9, I started working on the formal invitation letter to go out to all of our Tribal Emergency Manager partners, as well as the 12 Tribal Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinators. I figured I’d start working on this right away so it would be done and I would have one less thing to worry about. After kicking around a few drafts in mid-February, I sent one out for review.

Today I received the final approved letter. Among the things that I have learned is the following:
1) I used the wrong letterhead;
2) I used the wrong letter format;
3) I placed the signature in the wrong place;
4) Invitation language wasn’t “quite right” for an official invitation;
5) In short, I don’t know how to write an invitation letter.

DEMA Planning Meeting – Take Two March 9

Today is the second (and hopefully final) internal planning meeting for the Tribal Emergency Management Summit. This meeting will focus on the latest changes to the agenda (still in development) and a review of an outline of the proposed DEMA section presentations.

I want the presentations to focus on the direct services that we offer our Tribal partners – training and exercise assistance, mitigation plan assistance, grant preparedness, recovery operations, and others. I’m also hoping to get some success stories from these services to demonstrate how everyone has benefitted from the DEMA programs.

Overall pretty straight-forward stuff and it should be e-a-s-y. Meeting will run 30-minutes tops! Keep telling yourself that…

What if I Plan a Party and No One Comes? March 18

I want to make sure all the Tribes and external agencies received the invitation to attend the Summit. I decided to call everyone I haven’t heard from to extend a personal invitation to attend. I’m getting a lot of people who are planning on attending–looks like we are up to 15 tribes and over 60 people! This is great because my understanding is that we have never had nearly this many tribal representatives attend in the past.

Paperwork? Um, What Paperwork? March 19

In order for this to be eligible for ADHS funding I need to write a scope of work. Reaching into my bag of tricks, I have found one that will hopefully meet their grant reporting needs. So long as I demonstrate how this will benefit the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Coordinators by referencing their various grant requirements and tying them to the various presentations we should be good to go.

Who Plans an Out-of-State Week-long Trip a Month Before an Event? Oh Yeah, I Do… March 22

I’m at Sky Harbor Airport at 5:30 a.m. about to leave for a week to go to the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) and the Summit is less than a month away. I keep asking myself a single question--what was I thinking?!? I have so much to do–I’ll work on it every night and make sure we stay on track. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do…

The Best Laid Plans March 30

It’s the Monday after my week at EMI. All told, I probably spent 2 hours last week working on the Summit.
Somehow, it feels like everything is right on track. Could this be true? Am I stressing for no reason? Probably not, but denial is a great coping strategy.

Day Before the Summit and the Nervous Energy is Kickin’ In… April 20

Okay--presentations are on the USB key. Handouts are printed and will get stuffed into the folders tonight at home with my wife (Lil) helping me out–just have to ask her to help me out when I walk in the house.

Despite my checklist being checked multiple times, I am still worried that I’ll forget something tomorrow. This is usually how I get before an event. I think it will go off tomorrow without a hitch. If necessary, I will stop by the office in the morning.

As I try to sleep, I’m starting to think about next year’s event. Hold it at the same time of the year? Who else should we invite? Should we get more State agencies to attend? I need to talk to more of our Tribal partners about presentations for next year ... maybe a facilitated discussion during lunch? Decisions, decisions, decisions…

Is it Over Already? April 21

It’s just after 7pm when I walk through the front door. The dogs are all over me, tails wagging and noses sniffing
 my cart with tons of curiosity about where I was and what I brought home. Lil asked me how the day went and I told her that I think it went well. “We had over 70 people attend, 13 Tribes were represented, multiple State and Federal agencies, good networking, didn’t run out of food, and the facility was great!” She smiles and says “Good for you.”

I wander into the kitchen and grab a Coke. I plop down in a chair in the living room and start to read the Participant Feedback Form comments. I grab a pencil and a notepad so I can write down some of the comments. As I read them, I tell myself I have to find a way to incorporate these in so next year’s summit is even better.

No comments: