Humanity Road Disaster Response Team Tours FEMA National Response Coordination Center

This month, Humanity Road Volunteers and staff gathered at Lake Anna, Virginia for a retreat and planning session.   As part of the program, the team was invited to tour FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) facility in Washington DC.  The tour included an overview of the activation process and the team  met briefly with representatives from the FEMA Private Sector, Voluntary Agency Liaison, Individual Assistance, and National VOAD.  “This is Whole Community planning at its best.  It gives our team the chance to see first hand how the NRCC operates within our national response framework,” shared Cat Graham, Chief Operations Officer.  

“I was very excited to see FEMA engaging us in how we can collaborate in future disaster responses through social media” said Damon Talbot who volunteers for Humanity Road from his home in Oregon.

Humanity Road became a member of the FEMA Tech Sector team in April of 2015 .  Since then we have responded to events inside the USA and its protectorates and have been able to get a clearer indication of critical information needs to help improve the flow of information across the tech sector members and partners.  Over the past year and a half, Humanity Road has provided situation reports for Louisiana, Maryland, California, West Virginia, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina to name a few.  

Since the launch of the program examples of digital deployments included Typhoon Souldelor in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Hurricane Joaquin.  In response to CNMI, the Private Sector liaison was enroute to meet with the local Chamber of Commerce, and Humanity Road volunteers compiled reports that provided an initial overview of  needs and impacts to businesses and hotels throughout the islands.  

In Oct 2015, Hurricane Joaquin caused extensive flooding along the east coast of the United States.  Humanity Road disaster response team received a request for information from FEMA on October 5th and in response provided a detailed Situation Report.  The focus was on water supplies, distribution of bottled water, and status of the private sector in the cities of Columbia and Charleston in South Carolina.  The team also produced a special resource report  which included resources for seniors and people with disabilities.

“Since the roll-out of the Tech Sector program the FEMA Tech Sector partners program has supported and helped to improve mission-related information sharing across all tech sector members.  It contributes to a faster response and ensures that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our response capabilities.”  Thank you FEMA!

Celebrating Magi Shepley

Celebrating the life of Magi Shepley

Ms. Magi Shepley was dedicated to effective disaster communications and disaster response.  She had an expertise in assistive technology and enjoyed working with people with disabilities in disaster including autism, and intellectual disabilities.   She supported her local food bank at her local school and was active in social media  for preparedness.  She tweeted under @mshepley. She dedicated her free time to volunteering for the American Red Cross and Humanity Road to help support people impacted by disaster. 


During her service she helped support the Humanity Road disabilities accessibilities and functional needs team.

Ms. Shepley led a special project for Humanity Road for the Loudon County Youth Leadership Summit on a Saturday in April 2014. Students from Park View High School and international schools from Costa Rica, Turkey and Germany came together for a service project to create videos on how to notify friends and family via text message during an emergency. The videos were created in the languages spoken by the exchange and Park View students, including French, German, Tagalog, Spanish, and Turkish, each with English and ASL translations.  The summit included four Loudoun County High Schools and 14 student delegations from 12 countries: Costa Rica, China, Estonia, France, Germany, Lebanon, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.      The summit is a forum for young leaders from around the world to explore perspectives on issues of global significance and examine ways to progress as an international community.

Tagalog https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSKh93FlHN4

Turkish https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJLx2Xbbqq4

French https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uE-AsPtZABw

Taking care of others is what was always first on her mind.  “ I keep an eye out for people … on snow days to offer them coffee or whatever, because it’s the right thing to do. I think we need to do more things like this”    She was a friend of all and very dear to her beloved pet cats Mango and Mischief.  For her commitment and level of service in 2014, Ms. Shepley earned the Gold Presidential Service award from President Barack Obama for her digital service with Humanity Road.  Magi made an impact on her world in the short time that she was with us all, she will be missed by her friends and Humanity Road family.

Friends and family will gather to celebrate Magi’s life on Sunday, September 25, from 2-5 pm at Adams-Green Funeral Home, 721 Elden St, Herndon, Virginia 20170  You can also post your condolences online at Adams-Green Magi Shepley memorial page

Combined Federal Campaign Charity #28433

Pledge to CFC #28433photo of woman on cell

Everyone deserves the right to call for help and someone should hear their call. Humanity Road supports the public, aid agencies and first responders during natural disaster.


You can help close the black hole of communications when disaster strikes. Combined Federal Campaign donors can donate through payroll by selecting charity #28433.


Not a federal employee and want to support our work? You can donate online at http://humanityroad.org/donations.

Volunteer Spotlight: Sean Graham

Sean Graham operates on the front-lines of emergency response. He rescues critical patients via helicopter, and gets them the care they need ASAP. But by working with Humanity Road, he discovered a whole new way to save lives…

Sean Graham

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview.

My pleasure.

First, tell us about yourself, and what you do day-to-day at HR.

I am a full-time flight paramedic, living and working in the Phoenix, Arizona area. I got started in Emergency Services at the age of 16, as a volunteer EMT Basic in northern New Jersey. After high school, I attended the paramedic program at SUNY Rockland University in New York, and then began working as a paramedic in a couple of busy 911 systems around NJ. In 2012, I made my way out to Arizona, then began flying in 2015.

I am nearing the end of my 10-week internship, and have been part of a variety of projects. I’ve mainly focused on helping our partners – both government and NGO – with their data-mining efforts. I have also had the wonderful opportunity to get some exposure to the internal drill team which has been invaluable in learning the anatomy of an exercise/drill.

What does a flight paramedic do?

Sure. So, a flight paramedic typically is trained to a critical-care level, meaning they’re even better-trained than an ambulance paramedic. This may include learning about more types of drugs, additional skills/tools, and a more in-depth knowledge of medicine and human physiology. This allows us (typically partnered with a nurse) to take care of some critically ill and injured patients. We work in both fixed-wing (airplanes) and rotor (helicopter) platforms. Currently, my full time position is on a helicopter. We perform inter-facility transports, where we bring a patient from a lower-level hospital to a higher-level medical center for specialized treatment. We also perform scene flights, where we go to the scene of an accident or injury to quickly transport the patient to a trauma center. In addition to our increased medical capabilities, we can also get patients to definitive care faster than our ground counterparts. This comes in handy with time sensitive emergencies like stroke, heart attack and trauma.

Sounds like an intense, but rewarding, career.

It is. The commonality between the work that I have been doing for the past 12 years and the work I want to get involved with, is helping people. I feel like I am doing the same exact job, just the scope and the way in which we go about it changes.

So, how did you get started with Humanity Road?

I love my job, but I have been looking for something different for some time now. I had decided earlier this year that I wanted to pursue a career in Emergency Management. Through networking, I found Humanity Road, and got started here as an intern.

What’s your next step after this internship is over?

Right now, I am looking for a full-time entry-level position with an Emergency Management office (city, county or state) to continue growing the skills I’ve learned with Humanity Road. I am also open to the idea of doing more humanitarian and disaster response work with NGOs.

What keeps you motivated? What’s your humanitarian philosophy?

That is a good question. I feel that the greatest thing that one can do is save another’s life. This doesn’t need to be literally, where someone goes out and performs CPR and gets someone’s heart started again. Although doing that is fantastic. It comes down to helping those in the worst of times, and getting them to a place where they feel in control again. This could be donating blood and having it get to someone in need of it. It could be donating clothes to a shelter. It could be working as a firefighter. It could be feeding the homeless. The list could go on forever. I see lives being saved by the amazing volunteers here at Humanity Road. It is incredible what can be accomplished when a group of people with that same philosophy comes together. Imagine now if the entire world did their part to ensure those in need are taken care of in their darkest hour. That would be incredible.

Anything else you’d like to mention about your work with HR that we haven’t already covered?

I know I just mentioned it briefly, but I do want to say how impressed I am with the volunteers and leadership here at Humanity Road. Everyone plays such a critical role in this organization’s operational profile. I was blown away by how skilled and committed everyone at HR is. There is real passion behind this organization, and that is why things get done. I think it’s amazing that when a disaster strikes, you can have so many individuals get together and effectively work independently from all over the world, yet it seems as if everyone was working in an office together. Everything comes together seamlessly. There is no visible chaos when everyone is working. This is a testament to everyone’s abilities. I plan to stay on as a volunteer after my internship is completed, and hope to become half as skillful as the rest of the crowd here at HR.

What would you say to anyone who’s considering volunteering for HR?

Do it! If you feel like you don’t have the skills to do this type of work, they will teach you. If you are a little rusty on tech and feel like you would be a hindrance rather than a help, they will teach you. If you have no idea how to use social media and don’t even know what a “Tweet” is, they will teach you. Every human on this planet could serve a purpose with this organization. They really do an amazing job of empowering each individual and giving them the tools they need to succeed. In addition, as a volunteer, you will directly touch lives in a unique way. Getting to know more about HR, and trying your hand as a volunteer, is well worth your time.

Alright, unless you have anything else to add, that should be all.

No, those were great questions, Joshua. To piggyback off what I just said about the volunteers, I want to thank you tremendously for the work you do and the time you put in. I know you don’t need to do any of this and yet you do. That means a lot, and I want to just let you know how much I appreciate it. Thanks so much.

You’re welcome. I pop in and volunteer whenever my conscience strikes me, as probably a lot of people do. You’re probably more dedicated than I, and I wish you the best in your pursuit of an emergency-response career.

Thanks so much. Take care.

Farewell, Mr. Graham, and thanks for the interview!

My pleasure.

Even an experienced lifesaving medical professional can find new purpose with Humanity Road. If Sean Graham can, you can too!

Until next time, and our next volunteer’s story!

World Humanitarian Day 2016

World Humanitarian Day 2016

On World Humanitarian Day we honor the heroic aid workers who rush bravely to help people in need. We celebrate the act of giving.  Each year disaster impacts millions of people and its through acts of kindness and giving that the world heals.   Volunteers are the inspiration and the power behind Humanitarian work and today we honor our Humanity Road volunteers who have contributed thousands of hours every year to help reduce suffering and speed up the delivery of aid. Thank you team for your small acts of kindness every day. For taking the time to give your skills, your time, and your love. But mostly thank you for being here!