Opportunities With Team Rubicon Global
[LOURDES TIGLAO] I would say that Team Rubicon is a very great organization to– not just being biased, but it’s a great organization to join because it’s not always just disasters that we do, because disasters don’t happen every day, right?
[TODD DEVOE] I’ve had a lot of questions when breaking in the field of emergency management. Like I said in the past, I think that volunteering with a disaster relief organization is a great way to start. So today, I have with me Lourdes Tiglao from Team Rubicon Global. And we’re going to be discussing what Team Rubicon Global does and what it is to be in the emergency management field as a female and a minority.
But before we get into the interview, have you had a chance to look at the new EM Student show, over on forums.emweekly.com? If you haven’t, get over there and create a profile, you know? Start joining the conversation. It’s a lot of fun, and there’s a lot of really good information over there. Forums.emweekly.com is a place where you’re growing the EM Community. So, I’m so stoked about this platform, and I really can’t wait to see you guys over there. We have a lot of cool stuff coming that way.
And have you checked out the new show? It’s the EM Student podcast. So, I’m really excited to have that going on there. So if you’re a student, or you know somebody who’s a student, send them over. And like I said before, it’s a great place to create the new emergency management community just for us.
On Ask Todd this week, we had a question from Brad in Tennessee. And Brad is asking, how do we get the community excited to be prepared for disasters? You know, Brad, that’s really a great question, that’s one of the things that we’ve been really struggling for a few years here. The idea of preparedness is never sexy. In fact, the subject is sometimes (inaudible). So, you know, have you been excited talking about car insurance? Or life insurance? Probably not. However, there are some cool programs out there to talk about the new idea of the resilient community, and we’re going to be highlighting some of those programs in the next few shows. So Brad, hang in there, buddy, listen to the shows, we have some of those coming up on disaster resilience and making your community a disaster-resilient community. So, I’m excited about that. You’re going to open your eyes to the world of making that community more resilient.
Well, let’s cut to the chase, let’s get to the interview.
[TODD DEVOE] Hey, everybody. I’m excited today to have Lourdes here with me today, and she is part of Team Rubicon Global. And if you guys don’t know Team Rubicon, we’ve interviewed a couple of people and talked about it. There’s two sections, there’s Team Rubicon USA, and then there’s Team Rubicon Global, which literally covers the rest of the globe. So, Lourdes, welcome to EM Weekly. How are you doing today
[LOURDES TIGLAO] Thank you so much. I appreciate being here.
[TODD DEVOE] So tell me a little bit, first about yourself and how you got involved in emergency management, and what that means to you.
[LOURDES TIGLAO] So, I’m actually a 12-year veteran of the United States air force, and I was involved in critical care of the transport team. Doing medical evacuations. So I had some deployments in Afghanistan, in Saudi, and across the different areas of the globe. So, humanitarian assistance is really not something extremely new to me, but certainly, my role is a little bit different from back then. So, when I got out of the military, I went back into the medical service, working in a hospital, but definitely found a little bit of something that felt missing. And that’s really kind of where Team Rubicon really helped give that new sense of purpose, that sense of drive to do something bigger than what I’m doing in my immediate vicinity, which is really what drives me to continue being a part of the Team Rubicon community across the globe.
[TODD DEVOE] So, in 2012 or 2013, somewhere around there– maybe a little bit later, Team Rubicon split up into two sections, from Team Rubicon to Team Rubicon USA and Team Rubicon Global. So tell me a little bit about that process and what Team Rubicon Global really is.
[LOURDES TIGLAO] Yeah, so let me just give a little bit of clarification. Team Rubicon USA was definitely the starting genesis of the Team Rubicon grant. What– of course, we were deploying across the globe, where there are many different veterans from different nations seeing what we do and having worked with us in various capacities, unofficially. So, they wanted to see how they could bring the Team Rubicon community into their own nations to do what we were doing.
And so, that’s really kind of when the genesis of Team Rubicon Global started. It’s not as much as a split, but more of an expansion, of being able to facilitate the growth of Team Rubicon nations across the globe. And so, that really kind of brings me down to the mission of Team Rubicon Global. So, Team Rubicon Global actually works with the Team Rubicon Network, which is actually now up to five countries, by fostering the establishment and the development of new Team Rubicon country units and facilitating the Team Rubicon network by providing the effective provision of humanitarian aid in the wake of disasters.
So, when I say all of this, what we’re really doing is, we’re trying to help new countries start Team Rubicon organizations of their own, much like what the USA is. They are a charity of their own in their own nations. They have their own boards of governance, their own executive leadership. And so, what I mentioned earlier that we have five countries, that includes TR USA, Team Rubicon UK, TR Canada, TR Australia, and TR Norway, and we’re still growing.
[TODD DEVOE] Right. I thought it was kind of cool that with Team Rubicon UK we have a celebrity kind of as part of the organization.
[LOURDES TIGLAO] Yes, we do have Prince Harry. He probably calls himself a “grey shirt.” He deployed over in Nepal during the earthquake.
[TODD DEVOE] Yeah, and he seems to be a pretty amazing person all the way around, and it’s kind of great to have him as part of the Team Rubicon family. So, what kind of missions do you see Team Rubicon Global doing? I guess it would be similar to what we’re doing here in Team Rubicon USA. But what is the difference between like, say, something Norway would do that we really wouldn’t get involved with?
[LOURDES TIGLAO] Right. So, just so there’s a little bit more of a clarification. I know it seems a little confusing when people first think about what Team Rubicon Global is, versus the Team Rubicon country units. The Team Rubicon Global is not necessarily an operational arm like TR USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and Norway. So, we really provide the support to start Team Rubicon country units. So, we’ll help them with their business model, etc.
Having said that, Team Rubicon Global, our people, we have folks in the fields of training, partnerships, etc. We actually do go out into operational field, but more as a mentor in training and guidance for the new Team Rubicon units that are just starting.
[TODD DEVOE] Right, perfect. So, how would somebody who is part of anything would like to get involved with like, say, Team Rubicon Global? Like, what are the qualifications that get you there, and what do you have to do to be involved with that global outreach?
[LOURDES TIGLAO] Yeah, so Team Rubicon Global really helps facilitate and helps the fellow Team Rubicon network. I like to think that anyone who is involved in any Team Rubicon community across any different nation is really part of the Team Rubicon Global family. Because everything that we do is in support of the entire network. If they’d like to get more information and see how they can help our events that we sometimes do around in D.C., they can go to TeamRubiconGlobal.org to find that out. They can certainly reach out to me.
And the other way to really– what I suggest for people to get involved is, whichever country they’re in, and they don’t always have to be a veteran, it can be a first responder, or if they’re really just interested in learning more to get involved in their own local communities, seek out a Team Rubicon member, or volunteer, or leadership with their Team Rubicon country. And again, they’re in the US, UK, Canada, Norway, and Australia. Any one of these guys can help, and anyone that gets involved and in touch with those Team Rubicon country unit leadership and that community really becomes part of the Team Rubicon Global network. It is really a bit of an all-encompassing, comprehensive family. Everything we do at Team Rubicon Global is truly in support of the network.
[TODD DEVOE] I know that you are a globetrotter now, literally. Every time I see something with you, you’re in a different part of the world. So, tell me some of the exciting stuff that you’ve done and how you are able to outreach and grow the Team Rubicon brand, and the recognition of what Team Rubicon is doing around the world.
[LOURDES TIGLAO] Yeah! So I like to say that I have probably one of the best jobs in the world. I get to spread the word about Team Rubicon, as well as create partnerships and relationships across various sectors, whether that’s being private industry, in public sector, or in government, or in (inaudible) governmental. So, some of the things that I’ve done that’s been really exciting is really establishing some very solid relationships with some UN agencies. And as you know, some of the major catastrophes around the world, the UN is always involved in those. And so, it really kind of (inaudible) Team Rubicon network to really have a solid relationship with the UN, especially with (inaudible).
So, one of the things that we’ve done, at least for me, one of the exciting things I’ve done is having gone through the UN Military coordination course in Sri Lanka. That has definitely proven to be eye opening, because the core of people that I had were definitely international, from various countries around the world. And the perspectives that they bring when you go through a course like that is really invaluable. There is, sometimes, an obstacle that folks come across when they don’t get to see or hear different perspectives in disasters. The only thing that they see is what they’re used to seeing in their particular role.
So, for me, having these different government entities, these other humanitarians– specifically, we’ve had folks from ECO, from UNICEF, from UNDP. And then, the military representatives and coordination from Bangladesh, from Pakistan. It was truly an international cohort. And their perspectives really created a different filter and lens through which I was really taking some of the information that I was getting. So there is definitely a lot more nuances that I learned from that course. So, that’s one of the more exciting things that I found that I’ve done from last year.
And then this year, when I went to the humanitarian networks partnerships conference in Geneva. That is a huge flagship event for the United Nations to bring all stakeholders from the international humanitarian community into one place. And whether that’s in government, private sector, intergovernmental, all these folks were there. And what was great about it is we were able to really create a lot of discussion, as well as some tangible after-action plans for 2018 and going forward, to work together instead of working in silos, which in humanitarian communities, sometimes happens when you’re not informed or talking to the right people. And so, for me, that particular conference was really important because it allows us to really speak to the business community, to talk about what types of efforts they’re doing, not just in their own communities, but maybe around the globe if they’re a multinational business. And then how the private business community can help to leverage their support in order to make humanitarian efforts be more efficient and optimized.
[TODD DEVOE] So, you’ve responded to a few of the international disasters, correct?
[LOURDES TIGLAO] Yes, I have.
[TODD DEVOE] What are the challenges in responding to those– so, you were at Haiyan?
[LOURDES TIGLAO] I was.
[TODD DEVOE] Yes, ok. And in Nepal as well?
[LOURDES TIGLAO] No, I wasn’t in Nepal.
[TODD DEVOE] Ok. Which ones were you on?
[LOURDES TIGLAO] The most recent one was in the UK for their flood. They had a flood in Cornwall last year. I would say that was my most recent international one. Haiyan is probably my biggest one.
[TODD DEVOE] Right, ok. That’s what I wanted you to talk about. So, you responded to Hurricane Haiyan in the Philippines. And what were the challenges compared to, say, responding over there, internationally, that is, then responding in, say, the United States?
[LOURDES TIGLAO] I would say that probably one of the bigger hurdles usually when you’re responding internationally, is having a really good grasp of the cultural nuances. Because what sometimes works here in the United States does not always work in another country, especially when you’re talking about a country that is in another continent, where there’s cultural traditional and their societal views, and the way that these societies are actually put together is maybe different from what ours is. And so, having at least the social competence and intelligence about what society and community you’re going into is probably one of the biggest hurdles that you have to overcome.
Fortunately, for Typhoon Haiyan, that was in the Philippines, and I grew up in the Philippines. So, I functioned as not only their linguist but as well as a little bit of a diplomatic liaison, in creating some of those (inaudible). And definitely learned to (inaudible) with scarce resources, as with any disasters when resources become scarce, money does not always talk. It is what is needed in that community that will probably help you get further. One, cultural competency.
Two, I would say really awareness of the needs of the communities. One, because you have to figure out how you can leverage what your organizational strengths are, to help that community address some of those deficits. But I would say the other part is also knowing who the players are that are already there. And the reason that I say that is because when you have an awareness of the structure and the emergency management framework is already in that country, you don’t want to go in there as an outside entity and just load it up.
[TODD DEVOE] Right.
[LOURDES TIGLAO] You want to go there as more of a supporting role to help that community get back on their feet. It’s not our job, as a humanitarian organization, to go there and save the day. Our job is to support their infrastructure and to help develop and grow that, in coordination with the national emergency management agency that is in charge of that country. And I think it’s not just for Haiyan; it’s for any international work that we do that has to be at the very top of our mind every time.
[TODD DEVOE] I know that Team Rubicon supported the refugee crisis over in Greece. And I’ve read some stories and talked to some people that were there, and that was kind of amazing. Can you talk a little bit about what Team Rubicon did there?
[LOURDES TIGLAO] Yeah. I wasn’t personally there, but I can definitely say that it was our first long-term effort into this particular space. So, it was (inaudible) seven months for that deployment, it was different people during different phases deploying at different cycles. And we had created a medical clinic in conjunction with some of the local community to help address primary basic medical needs of the refugees that are there in Thessaloniki.
One of the things that we found is that it’s not always just healthcare aid. We started a medical clinic to help address clinical needs. There’s a lot that goes on in doing humanitarian medical work. There’s also data; there’s technology, there’s communication that has to be provided in that particular structure. And so, some of the barriers, and sometimes some of the hurdles that we have to overcome is the privacy, ensuring that the right people are getting the right types of medications. Because again, you’re trying to do everything from scratch, you’re trying to build a framework to create a system within this refugee community.
[TODD DEVOE] Yeah, it’s a lot more than just putting up a tent and starting doing medical aid to people.
[LOURDES TIGLAO] Exactly.
[TODD DEVOE] So, it’s a lot of logistics.
[LOURDES TIGLAO] Exactly, exactly.
[TODD DEVOE] This is some exciting stuff right there. I want to circle back a little bit and talk about you. So, you got to emergency management based upon what your experience is with the air force and stuff, and two things. One, is there are not a lot of women doing this type of work. And two, also, with minority–
[TODD DEVOE] How would you encourage women and people, in general, but how would you encourage women to get involved into emergency management and to the field that you’re doing?
[LOURDES TIGLAO] I would honestly say that probably the very first thing that women and minority have to understand is, this is not for the faint of heart. And whether you’re in the medical field, or any kind of first responder service, you are arriving, sometimes, at the darkest hours of the disaster-affected community. And so, it’s not for the faint of heart. However, if you are the type of person who’s daring enough to want to really kind of make a change, whether it’s big, whether it’s small, it always starts with a small step. One is familiarity. Get to know someone, talk to someone who is already in that field, and preferably, someone who you aspire to–
I always tell folks, new veterans that are coming in as they’re transitioning, if they’re trying to transition and don’t know the way, find someone that you admire to be a mentor of yours. Now, if anyone is a minority who is unsure about how to break in, talk to someone that they have seen on TV or the news, or just reach out to someone in the local community who is either a woman or a minority, and look at their particular steps. What they’ve done, what obstacles they’ve had to overcome, and also what resources they’ve utilized in order to break into the field. Because familiarity usually gives courage. Once you know a little bit about it, then you become a little bit braver, and you start taking more steps. So, familiarity and understanding is the first step.
Second, is really– there’s a lot of online courses. ICS courses online that people can take. Even if just– I mean, it might look daunting, when you first start looking at all these multiple choices, but again, when you talk to someone who’s already done it, and you’re familiarized, and you know what’s coming, it is really not that daunting. And it doesn’t mean that you have to do it on your own. Get a support group of people who are like-minded who are going through it with you. There is nothing more debilitating, sometimes, for people, when they think that they are the only ones going through it alone.
So, getting a support structure around what you are going through. And I can say that no matter what type of life experience you’re trying to go through if you get a support structure that’s helping you get through this entire process, who will support you when you feel like you’re getting down, it will help you take that next step forward each time. I know that when I first started, I felt like I didn’t know as much. But really, when you start being able to take those pieces from your past learning and seeing how that really comes into play with what we’re doing in emergency management, you really start to see those pieces come together, and you start getting a little bit more brave, you get a little bit more courage, you start speaking more, and then you start taking those next steps to really develop your skills.
[TODD DEVOE] One of the biggest questions I get from my students is, how do I break into any job in emergency management? And I always encourage them to look at the volunteer route. So, why should somebody join Team Rubicon?
[LOURDES TIGLAO] I would say that Team Rubicon is a very great organization to– not just being biased, but it’s a great organization to join just because it’s not always just disasters that we do. Because disasters don’t happen every day, right? So, in between disasters, we do a lot of community service projects, that’s just within our local community. So, we know that every one of our volunteers are in different phases of their lives. Some are students, some have families, some have very demanding jobs, and they can’t always put that two weeks to be able to deploy somewhere.
However, we have community service projects and training programs that are maybe one day, a few hours, or maybe multi-days and two to three days over a weekend, that are really going to help someone get their feet wet into the community before really starting to get into the operational side. And the other part of volunteering in Team Rubicon is not always just work, work, work. We have a variety of activities that we do, (inaudible) around the globe, that we try to include our Team Rubicon community.
We have social events, we have physical events, like sporting events. The runners one that’s coming up in April being one of them. And then we have our proactive or deliberate operations responses, that’s the one that’s planned out in advance. And then there’s the disaster reacting responses, and that’s the one that when something happens, we’re out there. A great example of that is if you’ve heard of Tropical Cyclone Gita in Tonga. And or Team Rubicon Australia folks were really just (inaudible) until the government of Tonga actually asks for assistance from the international community. However, this is also the time when people can start getting their training and making sure that they are ready to deploy. Sometimes, for people to really get off that couch to do the training is when something happens.
[TODD DEVOE] What kind of training is available to Team Rubicon?
[LOURDES TIGLAO] We have a variety, and it really depends on the country or your (inaudible). But here, in the United States, we have quite a few. The ICS training, like I said, is online. It’s the basic one to be able to deploy. If you want to step up your game and be in a leadership position within a disaster response team, as in being in either a logistics or operation section chief, etc., there is ICS 300 and 400, and those are actually in-class training.
And apart from just doing that, there’s also skill-based training that we do. So, there’s (inaudible) assessments; there’s disaster mapping, there is sawyer training. A huge variety that’s actually in what we call our core ops training, which is basically kind of that foundational set of skills that usually we will utilize when we are out in the field. So, those types of training, so skill sets training, education, and emergency management.
And then there’s also just kind of an OJT, with people who want to develop themselves to become Team Rubicon leaders. So, if you want to get involved in membership management. There are people who are absolutely brilliant who will be willing to mentor you if you are willing to put the time in.
[TODD DEVOE] So, there’s a job for everybody, then. That’s basically–
[LOURDES TIGLAO] There is a job for everybody. I think one of my favorite stories is– it’s a quick story. So, Hurricane Sandy. One of the TR volunteers that we have, their family was affected with Hurricane Sandy up in New York. A year later, there was the Pennsylvania ice storm over at our house. Not at our house, but just in our neighborhood. And so, she had reached out to me over social media saying, “You know, Team Rubicon helped my family out in New York, and I really want to get involved, but I don’t know anything about emergency management, I’m a kindergarten teacher. I can bake cookies.”
And I said, “You know what? Come, we will train you, we will teach you what you need to do, but maybe bring the cookies.” So, she did! She did show up that weekend, and after a day and a half of really kind of being mentored and doing on-the-job training on damage assessments, just so that we could start generating work sites. After being there for two days, she was able to do her own damage assessments. And so, not only are people able to just contribute with the skill sets they have, they can acquire new skill sets. Again, it’s always about the willingness to put the time and the willingness to serve. We’ll provide training all day long.
[TODD DEVOE] That’s awesome. Alright. Ok, here comes the toughest question on the day. What book, or books, or publication do you recommend to somebody who wants to get involved in this field?
[LOURDES TIGLAO] That is a little bit tough. I guess it kind of depends on what level they want to start. But I would say that anyone who wants to be in the humanitarian, whether it’s local or national, if you want to be in the humanitarian field, you should really be (inaudible). And so, I would say, looking at the publications, specifically with the UN, and I say this because I’ve just learned so much when I went to this in (inaudible) course. I would say look at the humanitarian principles publications from the United Nations. I’m sure there’s probably a small version of this somewhere online.
And also, I would say look at– another book. I would say this for someone trying to break in, is– there is a book by one of the co-founders of Team Rubicon, it’s called (inaudible). And the reason I say that is, not only it talks about Team Rubicon, but it also talks about some life lessons, about being bold, about breaking into things that you may feel like you don’t know anything about. So, one part is about knowing the kind of community you’re trying to get into, but the other (inaudible) that I’m talking about is about developing that inner characteristic and the skill, and the boldness and the courage to take that step, if you feel like you don’t know anything about it.
It will give you that little boost to– it will give you that little bit of boost to kind of take a deep breath and just say, “You know what, I can do this.” And it gives some practical lessons, actually. It gives some practical lessons about some of the things that our co-founders and our organization has done. But as well just life lessons. And obviously, this weekend (inaudible) skills, unless you have that discipline and determination to do it. Because if you don’t have it in yourself and you don’t prepare yourself mentally, you will start finding yourself stumbling and not being able to get back up.
[TODD DEVOE] Right. So, that’s “Take Command” by Jake Wood. Awesome, awesome book.
[LOURDES TIGLAO] But also the humanitarian principles by the UN.
[TODD DEVOE] Yes, awesome. Cool. Is there anything else that you’d like to add to all those emergency managers out there that are looking at Team Rubicon?
[LOURDES TIGLAO] Yes. I would say, and this is for anyone, either nationally or globally, who is listening to you. I think that one of the most important aspects to just remember about us is that we come there to support what they already have. And so, all we want for our Team Rubicon volunteers is to have that opportunity to be able to serve and to have that chance to help communities that are in need. Because in doing that, you’re actually helping us, our people, to start regaining that new sense of purpose and (inaudible) in that community, that we’re always trying to strive for and build back up after we’ve gotten out of the military. And so, you are doing (inaudible).
[TODD DEVOE] Awesome, thank you so much for your time today.
[LOURDES TIGLAO] Thank you so much.
Titan HST https://www.titanhst.com/
The Blue Cell http://www.thebluecell.com/