The Blue Cell took a monumental step this week with its first classes in the great and very big state of Alaska. In a year of milestones, the achievements this week in Fairbanks may top the list. The acquisition of Command School TTX on paper and on the balance sheet will probably be remembered in future years, but here are a few things about the Alaska adventure.
The initial conversations with the Fairbanks North Star Borough (the county) were generated solely off of The Blue Cell website; this was a first for the company The Blue Cell has grown in each of its three previous years by referral and customer retention, volume pricing and great customized deliveries. In the case of obtaining this new customer, they plugged something into Google and we popped up. They then simply called the 800 number. Interestingly enough, I was the Midwest at the time teaching and happened to be on a break when our 800 service found my phone and rang me. The 907 area code didn’t throw me off because I quickly miss read it as a 970 area (a common area code in Colorado). The lady on the phone simply wanted a price quote for two FEMA G level classes. I was able to send her to our web store and immediately give her a number to work with. In subsequent conversations, she requested information on our past performance with FEMA classes. I was able to provide her with the emails of 7 state training officers we regularly do business with. In the email to her, I actually copied all of the STO’s. From that point on it was contract time and we were off and running.
During the deliveries this week of Community Mass Care Management and Evacuation and Re-Entry Planning, Hurricane Isaac was pounding the Gulf Coast providing me the opportunity to use contemporary issues in the classroom, create discussion questions, and real mission topics and even assign a little homework. The challenges of isolation, extreme weather conditions and unique governmental structures and laws made for great interactions in the two classes, allowing enhanced think-tanking and planning strategies.
The class also had a University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate student in attendance who has been working on an evacuation / GIS project in conjunction with the Borough that is the most comprehensive and well put together data set I have ever seen. Kate Schaefer’s short presentation on the final day of the week was very impressive and demonstrated what can be done with a clear mission, direction and talented people that are motivated and hard working. Thank you Kate. I also have to thank Randy Pommenville, Emergency Management Coordinator for the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, the participants from the Red Cross and the strategic partners from Fort Wainwright. Lastly I have especially thanks to Stephanie Reynolds and Emergency Manager Craig Malloy for this opportunity, and to all of my new friends in the 49th state. Quyana. I hope to see you all again soon.
Owner, The Blue Cell, LLC