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NCWG Group 3 Holds Points of Distribution Training

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C/MSgt Jacquel Holloway directs traffic during the POD training. Photo Credit: 1st Lt Liz Dunster, CAP (click image to view full size)
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Tar River Composite Squadron hosts POD class

4/12/2018––Saturday, 7 April 2018, saw the second group-wide training activity organized by Group 3, namely Points of Distribution (PODs). 1st Lt Robert Rimmer, the Group 3 Emergency Services Officer, was the organizer of the class held at the Tar River Composite Squadron in Elm City, NC. 

Weather predictions indicated that it would be a wet Saturday and they were proved correct, as it rained most of the day. The rain did not dampen the spirits of the class, however, which was well attended by 12 senior members and 9 cadets representing multiple Group 3 squadrons. The instructors were Lt Col Pete Bohler, Maj Tony Overman and Capt Patti Overman.
The morning training consisted of the lecture component of the class, which began with a safety briefing and then went into the details of what a POD is and how it is set up. According to Lt Col Bohler, the definition by the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management of a POD is: “a location set up by a county to distribute life sustaining supplies to its citizens during a large scale or catastrophic incident. PODs are only used when central services such as power and water are out for a long period of time and stores are not open. Life sustaining supplies include emergency meals ready to eat (MREs), bottled water and depending on the incident may include ice and/or tarps to help protect homes with roof damage.” 
Lt Col Bohler set up a model of a POD on a table using toy cars, trucks and superheros to represent the POD personnel. He encouraged the class participants to photograph the model using their cell phones, so that they would have a ready reference for the set-up should they need it. According to Lt Col Bohler, the North Carolina Wing is the only wing to offer the POD qualification. Lt Col Bohler added that the POD courses offered by other agencies are only 4 hours long and are not accepted by the NCWG/CAP. 
Different size PODs and their uses were also covered, as well as how supplies are distributed via the POD. Lt Col Bohler, Maj Overman and Capt Overman used examples of real emergencies that the NCWG has deployed members to man PODs to illustrate the lesson. The class then broke for lunch.
The afternoon session consisted of the opportunity to set up an actual POD operation. The class practiced loading operations, managing traffic and handing out water and MREs. Maj William Hess, 2d Lt Melita Bulluck, 1st Lt Robert Rimmer and 2d Lt Daniel Mallott pretended to be members of the public collecting supplies from the POD by driving CAP vans and their personal vehicles. The cadets and the remaining senior members took turns directing traffic and handing out bottled water and MREs to the “public” from the pallets, under the guidance of Lt Col Bohler, Maj Overman and Capt Overman. The rain did not stop the entire time, but it was not particularly cold, nor was the rain heavy and the efficiency of the group improved noticeably as they practiced.
After the soggy outdoor training, everyone returned inside to dry off, review how things had gone outside and pack up for the day. Lt Col Bohler thanked Maj Hess for hosting the training. Maj Overman thanked 1st Lt Rimmer as the Group 3 Emergency Services Officer for ensuring there were multiple squadrons present, and 1st Lt Rimmer thanked the instructors and participants for coming out, especially those from Elizabeth City who had left their homes early that morning to make the long drive over. He also thanked Maj Hess for having the facility set up for the POD training when they arrived.
There was an overwhelmingly positive response to the day and many said how much they enjoyed it. C/1st Lt Jarrett Moss of Tar River said that, “the hands-on portion had to be my favorite part because we got to put the things we learned in the classroom into practice.” C/A1C Emily Worth also of Tar River said, “I really enjoyed attending this training" and described it as “very enlightening.” She went on to say that she hopes to be able to continue advancing her training and education. C/MSgt Jacquel Holloway of the Pitt-Greenville Composite Squadron described the training as “great!” and felt he had “learned many things today.” C/A1C Chris Hess of Tar River said, “I am glad that I went and I will try to help out more with CAP.” C/Amn Audreyrose Gehricke of the Elizabeth City Composite Squadron said, “I enjoyed when we practiced a POD because it was fun and educational."
2d Lt Melita Bulluck of Tar River, also the parent of a cadet, said, “The training helped me feel more comfortable and more confident that I can set up and run a POD in a real-life situation that would readily occur in our area. I really appreciate the fact that cadets are treated as a big and valuable part of the team and we have a chance to train to respond together in crises.” Lt Col Anthony Biondo also of Tar River, feels that it is “a timely training event due to the anticipated above-active Atlantic Basin hurricane season.” He went on to say that, “these efforts will pay forward with well-trained PODs personnel. Lt Col Bohler, Maj Overman, and Capt Overman demonstrated the vital need for an enhanced PODs program within the North Carolina Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. More training of this nature will only enhance our capability to provide vital disaster relief services when the need arises - which lately has been increasing in size and scope.” 2d Lt Rod Cushing of the Elizabeth City Composite Squadron described Lt Col Bohler as a “thorough instructor by tying together FEMA national requirements, state and local needs and the Civil Air Patrol best practices.” He also thought the way the classroom and practical exercise were related to real North Carolina disaster recovery operations over the last few years was insightful.
Capt Patti Overman said, “As always, it was a pleasure to come to Tar River! Thank you for such a great group who was willing to come out to play in the rain to learn such a valuable program. PODs reach a vast number of North Carolinians who are having the worst day of their lives. You make a difference by being there for them!” Lt Col Bohler said, "it is great to have eager cadets and senior members willing to help those in need when requested to respond to county and state needs.”