We’re 18 episodes deep since launching the All Hazards podcast last March. The idea was to have conversations with emergency managers and first responders and get them to share their experiences, warts and all. Hopefully, they would not only entertain the listener but also teach them a little something that could help them in their career. As the podcast producer and host of All Hazards I’ve learned a lot about this new career field of mine. These conversations have been educational, entertaining and, at times, surprising. Just off the top of my head there are five surprising moments for me when I raised an eyebrow or suddenly hyper-focused my attention on what the guest was saying.
These are in no particular order but when I talked to FEMA Region IX Administrator Bob Fenton in the episode called Bringing Order to Chaos for 9/11, Katrina and Sandy he said he’d never been to New York City, that is until 9/11. Like everyone there, he saw things he’ll never forget. He never went back until he responded for Hurricane Sandy. I don’t think he ever thought he’d go back; but he did. He returned one week before our podcast session and attended the 9/11 memorial.
Then there was the sit-down with retired LA Battalion Chief Larry Schneider. In the episode From WWII to the Northridge Earthquake: Retired LA Battalion Chief Remembers Moments of His Storied Career Mr. Schneider talked about his 53 years in fire service – let me repeat – 53 years. Amazing. Consider this – he started during World War II and retired just before his 80th birthday.
During the episode called Overcoming Major Medical Challenges at Stadium Shelter for 2007 San Diego Fire Siege we sat down with the medical incident commander for the Qualcomm evacuation shelter. What surprised me, and him, was that a woman was able to get on the medical staff, perform her duties as a nurse (admittedly at a good level) only later be discovered a fraud. She was no nurse.
One of the more fun interviews I conducted was with Jerry Haleva. He is a California lobbyist, and former aide to Senator Bill Campbell. Referring to himself, he said, “Only in America can a Jewish activist get paid to make fun of an Arab dictator.” You see, Jerry is also a Hollywood actor who’s portrayed Saddam Hussein. However, what surprised me in Jerry Haleva on The Dude & The Dictator was that he was able to get former President George W. Bush to sign a photo of the two of them, with Haleva looking like Hussein, inscribed “Damn! You’re Alive! More bad intel.”
Finally, in California’s Search and Rescue Top Cop, state SAR coordinator Matt Scharper talks about how inexperienced outdoor enthusiasts put too much reliance on Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs and SEND) which unnecessarily puts other lives at risk. I didn’t know these devices existed, let alone how unprepared hikers are irresponsibly endangering their rescuers. Part of that story includes just how well night vision technology works and can aid helicopter pilots with flying at night during SAR missions. It blew me away.
So if you haven’t had a chance to listen to any of these podcasts consider this a starter kit of sorts. This’ll get ya up to speed on what All Hazards is about and how informative and entertaining it can be. Subscribe at iTunes and you’ll never miss an episode. Like I sincerely say at the end of each episode, take care and be safe.