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News.bytes Extra, issue 471

High School Drama Students Assist with Federal Fire Training Class

Continuing a multiple year tradition, drama class students from Lassen High School in Susanville used their considerable talents to help train federal employees aspiring to work in incident information, during an "Introduction to Incident Information -- S203" class held in Susanville the week of Feb. 7.  A big part of the weeklong class is a simulation, the Pitchfork Fire in this case, in which the federal students work in teams responding to information requests typical on a fire or other major incident.  That's where the drama students come in... (text continues below)

A man speaks with an agitated woman
Joshua Veal, a fire prevention officer from the Klamath National Forest, attempts to calm a frantic mother whose child is lost in the fire area.

A cameraman films a woman speaking to a reporter
Esther Miranda-Cole, a public affairs specialist from the Lassen National Forest, gets some on-camera practice as a news crew visits the information center.

a camera crew
Showing some quick thinking,  David Wolfe holds a cue card with evacuation information, as the student "news team" interviews his teammate, Esther Miranda-Cole.  David is a public information assistant from the Shasta Trinity National Forest.

A woman speaks with another woman who holds a microphone
Courtney Wood, a fire prevention technician from the Plumas National Forest, has her turn dealing with the news team.

Two men speak with a crying girl
Josh Veal faces yet another distraught person, this time a girl whose dog, Buddy, is lost as the fire rages.

Dennis Benson, left, associate field manager for BLM's Eagle Lake Field Office, works with his  Forest Service team members to consolidate huge amounts of information quickly flowing into the information center.  From left, the other team members are Lara Polansky, a presidential fellow from  Region 5; Anna Callahan, a visitor services assistant from the El Dorado NF; and Vickie Wright, an administrative liaison officer from the Cleveland NF.

During the three-hour exercise, the information teams are evaluated on their responses to nearly 50  widely varied  situations including news media requests, offers of community assistance, a visit from a Congressman's staffer, demands from an incensed wildlife official, information requests from foreign reporters,rapid-fire briefings from  the incident commander and suspicious phone calls. 

The course is held at the Lassen National Forest headquarters and taught by a multi-agency cadre including Jennifer Chapman, a fire communication and education specialist from SF Bay Area National Parks;  Lee Anne Schramel Taylor, public affairs officer for the Plumas National Forest; Scott Isaacson, fire communication and education specialist from Lassen National Park; Dan Merritt, a timber management specialist and incident information officer from the Lassen National Forest; and Jeff Fontana, public affairs officer for the BLM's Northern California District.

Jeff Fontana, Public Affairs Officer, BLM Northern California District, 2/16/11

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Last updated: 03-09-2011