Brian Ferguson Takes Helm as Deputy Director of Communications at Cal OES

September 3rd, 2019

Picture of Brian Ferguson

In this episode (#66) we talk with Brian Ferguson, deputy director of communications at Cal OES.  We’ll talk about his transition from working in the governor’s office to the world of emergency management and why he’s OK with not knowing everything about his new employer, its communications team and all the facets that it faces. He’ll also talk about the relationship between PIOs and the media, the challenges that go along with the ever rapidly changing news business and how his new team will have to adapt to those changes.

On July 10, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the appointment of Brian Ferguson as deputy director for crisis communication and public affairs at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Ferguson had been deputy director of media and public affairs in the Office of Governor Newsom since February 2019. Ferguson served as Deputy Press Secretary in the Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. from 2017 to 2019. He served as Deputy Director of Public Affairs at the California Department of General Services from 2013 to 2017, where he also served as Acting Deputy Director of Sustainability from 2014 to 2015. Ferguson was a communications specialist at the California Faculty Association from 2006 to 2013. He was a contributing writer at the Syracuse Post-Standard in 2006 and a writer at the Marin Independent Journal from 2004 to 2005. He earned a Master of Arts degree from the Syracuse University, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Links

Cal OES Office of Public Information

Cal OES

Governor Gavin Newsom

 

 

 

 

 

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CALFIRE’s Mike Mohler Indicates Paradigm Shift in the Wind for Wildland Fires in California Following Historical Disasters

January 29th, 2019

Mike MohlerIn this episode (# 57) we talk with Mike Mohler, Deputy Director of Communications for CALFIRE. In his current role, as well as his prior position as Battalion Chief at Southern Region, Mike has worked many of California’s biggest wildfire disasters, historical ones at that.  He talks about why there is no longer a “fire season” and how wildfires really are different from those just a few years ago. He discusses the challenges fire agencies have with the numerous factors contributing to year-round fires including fuels, drought, tree mortality, climate change and wildland-urban interface. He also addresses wildland management, the importance of Firewise communities, local government and community engagement, defensible space and thinking completely differently in order to mitigate future deadly mega-fires, and so much more.

As mentioned, Mike Mohler is currently the Deputy Director, Communications, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Mohler began his fire service career in 1991, as a reserve firefighter in Orange County, assigned to the heavy equipment and crew division. 

While working as a reserve, he attended the Santa Ana College fire science program and worked full time as a firefighter for Boeing’s Aeronautics and Missile Systems Division in Anaheim. Mike began his career with CAL FIRE in the San Bernardino Unit as a Firefighter I in June 2000. 

In May 2001, Mike promoted to Firefighter II in the Riverside Unit and in 2005, he promoted to Fire Apparatus Engineer. In 2010, Chief Mohler promoted to Fire Captain in the San Diego Unit.  In 2015, he promoted to Battalion Chief at Southern Region, where he worked for the next 3 years supervising the Southern Region information and communications programs. Mike was vital in continuing to build the Department’s nontraditional media exposure with projects such as Netflix’s Fire Chasers and Extreme Weather with National Geographic which has showcased our department worldwide.

Chief Mohler participates on several statewide cadres and working groups, including S-420, CIMCI and AAIMS.  He holds several qualifications, including Advanced All Hazard Incident Commander from the University of Texas A&M, and has been assigned to a CAL FIRE Incident Management Team for over 11 years. He currently holds a seat on FEMA’s advisory committee for response to large scale incidents. In addition to his Departmental assignments, Chief Mohler has also served as an Honor Guard member for over 17 years, honoring our fallen and supporting their families. Mike is currently enrolled in American Military University’s Emergency and Disaster Management program.

Links

FIRE SAFE COUNCIL

CALFIRE

Camp Fire on InciWeb

Thomas Fire on CalFire

Woolsey Fire on CalFire

Tubbs Fire on CalFire

 

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The Thomas Fire: Critical Public Information During California’s Historic Wildfire

April 24th, 2018

Kelly Flanders

From December 4th to December 22nd, 2017, the Thomas Fire cost more than 177 million dollars to fight, and forced the evacuation of more than 104 thousand people and had 8,500 firefighters from 22 states simultaneously working to contain it. But let’s not forget about the public information efforts. Imagine what any large disaster would be like if you kept the affected communities in the dark, giving them zero information. No doubt you’d now have to deal with confusion, panic, anger and so much more. So, we’re going to talk with the person who managed public information for the City of Ventura, Kelly Flanders.

Kelly Flanders is the Communications Manager for the City of Ventura. In addition to the Thomas Fire PIO response, Kelly worked with partner agencies during the Grove Incident oil spill. She is a Ventura native and holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Antioch University.

 

LINKS

City of Ventura

City of Ventura Thomas Fire Rebuild

Donate to the United Way of Ventura County Thomas Fire and Flood Fund

Ready Ventura County

Ventura County Emergency Information

Ventura County Recovers

Cal OES Wildfire Recovery Resources

OESNews.com

CalOES.ca.gov

 

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Amber Anderson: At Home with the Santa Barbara Mudslide

January 23rd, 2018

We sit down with Amber Anderson, an 18 year veteran firefighter, and 10 year veteran of the Santa Barbara City Fire Department. She’s a member of the Santa Barbara County Type-3 Incident Management Team, a fire inspector and investigator and public information officer. In this episode Amber talks about the fire community always learns from previous disasters; this time it’s the Thomas Fire and the ensuing flood and mudslide which devastated her county and the community of Montecito. She also reflects on how  Santa Barbara stood-up their incident management team just prior to the floods and just how important that decision was given the damage and deaths that resulted from the floods. And how in the world was she able to keep a smile on her face amid the long hours, demands and stress put on her during her activation and deployment to the disaster in her home town? She’ll answer that question and more in this episode. Oh, and never mind the noise. It’s a disaster recovery operation.

Links

City of Santa Barbara Fire Department

Santa Barbara County

Cal OES Newsroom

Cal OES Home Page

Montecito Mudslide US&R Update Video

 

 

 

 

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Public Information Officers: Old Dogs, New Tricks

August 22nd, 2017

Right to left: John Larimore, Shawn Boyd, Adria Wells, Monica Vargas

Press releases are starting to become a thing of the past, while podcasts, videos and infographics are becoming the future. Why? Information overload, smartphones and packed schedules (among many other reasons) is nudging traditional communications to adapt and change the way information is packaged and shared. Now don’t get it wrong, press releases have their place – but there is always room for change, especially when it comes to serving the public and providing information efficiently.     

In this episode, we chat with the Cal OES team about some of the new and improved ways of doing things as a team. Monica Vargas, Shawn Boyd, John Larimore, and Adria Wells share their experience, insight from the perspective of the PIO, graphic designer and videographer.  

Links

OES Newsroom

Cal OES Inside Look: Mutual Aid

Cal OES Quick Look: Early Earthquake Warning

We’re on Instagram!

More about Cal OES

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Just Push Publish and Other Great Government Podcasting Advice From Ray Ortega

March 14th, 2017

Guest: Ray Ortega; ThePodcastersStudio.com; RayOrtega.com;

Ray Ortega is the host of The Podcasters’ Studio and Podcasters’ Roundtable … both shows are podcasts about podcasting.

He launched his first podcast in 2007 which was called Produce Picker Podcast.

In 2009, he created The Podcasters’ Studio to share what he had learned while producing his first podcast and to teach himself audio-only podcast production.  Podcasting quickly became a full-time hobby and eventually his job – more accurately, his dream job.

In this episode of All Hazards we’re going to talk about podcasting in general, podcasting in the government sector and how it might fit in with your office’s public outreach messaging.  We’ll offer some tips to get you started if you think your audience might want to listen to what you have to say, how you might improve your existing podcast, and what some of the trends are in podcasting.

Twitter: @PodcastHelper

"YouTuber" at http://youtube.com/rayortega 

 

 

 

 

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Cal OES PIOs Talk Disaster Experience, Relationships and More in Team Chat

January 31st, 2017

 What does a typical day on the job look like for Cal OES public information officer? Well, the answer to that is – there is no typical day. One thing you can count on is that it’s likely there won’t be a press release in draft mode; only for special occasions are press releases written. More often than not, our PIOs are busy creating more engaging forms of communication, from short and longer form videos, to daily blogs to podcasts and social media. Our PIOs also get their hands dirty to get the public and stakeholders the information they need in a more interesting way. They travel by 4-wheel drive, Snow Cat, helicopter and any other mode of transportation to take you to the story and the story makers, and give you the best access for the best perspective. It’s all about transparency and proof of performance and readiness for the tax dollars invested.

So, in this episode, three of our PIOs sit down to talk about what it’s like to be a few of the faces and voices for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Monica Vargas, Robb Mayberry and Jon Gudel have all been involved in a wide range of missions and assignments for Cal OES and are here to share their stories, lessons and tips, all valuable information whether you’re a PIO or not.

Links

http://www.oesnews.com/

http://caloes.ca.gov/Cal-OES-Divisions/News-Media

https://www.youtube.com/user/CalEMATV

https://www.flickr.com/photos/calemaphotos/

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FEMA’s Kelly Hudson: Facilitating Unity Between the States and the Feds

December 6th, 2016

Kelly Hudson at the Pu'u O'o lava flow

Kelly Hudson is an external affairs officers with FEMA, and is based in Region IX, Oakland, California. She’s worked for FEMA for 12 years, with ten of those in Region IX.

In this episode (#21) she reflects on the many major disasters she’s worked and talks about the challenges of each and lessons learned. She was still a newbie when Hurricane Katrina hit and was dispatched to help with communications as on-scene public information officer. She and her team were escorted by armed guards due to the dangerous nature of angry and desperate locals. She also candidly discusses how, in her eagerness, she got ahead of the messaging curve and told the media too much too soon; that’s a lesson she urges anyone who deals with the media to remember. Kelly also shares her own ways of surviving the chaos of hectic disaster responses, and how it’s important to take care of “Number-1.”

 

 

 

Kelly’s list of major disaster responses are impressive:

External Affairs Officer, Wildfires, Northern California (2015)

External Affairs Officer, Pu'u 'O'O Lava Flow, Hawaii (2014)

External Affairs Officer, Tropical Storm Iselle, Hawaii (2014)

External Affairs Officer, Tropical Storm Halong, Guam (2014)

External Affairs Officer, Severe Storms, American Samoa (2014)

External Affairs Officer, Hurricane Irene (2011)

Deputy External Affairs Officer, Joplin, Mo. tornado (2011)

External Affairs Liaison, Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (2010)

External Affairs Lead, Tsunami and flooding, American Samoa (2009)

Assistant External Affairs Officer, North Dakota floods (2009)

Deputy External Affairs Officer, Hurricane Ike (2008)

External Affairs Officer, Southern California wildfires (2008)

Executive Officer, Southern California wildfires (2007)

News Desk Lead/Public Information Officer, Hurricane Katrina (2005)

Researcher and Writer/Public Information Officer, New Jersey floods (2005)

Researcher and Writer, Hurricane Ivan (2004)

 

Links

FEMA Region IX

FEMA Region IX Leadership

Pu'u O'o Lava Flow

Pahoa

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