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Three Reasons Why You Should Attend Jake Wood’s Keynote Session at the 2018 Summit

by Dan Gentry on Apr 27, 2018 5:19:22 PM
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We are thrilled to welcome a special Keynote speaker to Summit 2018. Knowing your personal and professional investment in preparedness and response, we know you’ll appreciate the Keynote session Team Rubicon, and value co-founder Jake Wood’s powerful, engrossing message.

We offer three compelling reasons you should plan to attend this special event.

The Speaker

January 10, 2010. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The aftermath revealed hundreds of thousands injured, critical infrastructure and buildings destroyed, countless people abruptly homeless, and relief organizations struggling to respond.

Watching the devastation on TV from his living room, Jake Wood’s first venture into volunteer disaster relief began with one simple Facebook post: “I’m going to Haiti. Who’s in?” Just out of the Marine Corps, Jake knew he had the skill set, experience and motivation to help, and was sure he would be able to reach places that others could not, or would not, go — and all in an effort to help others in need.

Three days after that one simple post, Jake and seven others were in the Dominican Republic, en route to neighboring Haiti, with medical supplies and equipment. Crossing over the Artibonite River, the natural border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the small team of eight volunteers called themselves “Team Rubicon” in reference to the Rubicon River in Rome – “the point of no return.” In doing so, the team acknowledged they were irrevocably committed to their task of helping those in need.

Within such volunteer disaster response operations, it is not only the affected community that is being assisted, but also the volunteers themselves. While in Haiti, Jake realized that he had regained that purpose of mission that he and so many of our nation’s veterans lose after they transition out of military service. He was once again a part of something bigger than himself, assisting others and working alongside likeminded individuals, all focused on completing the same mission. Realizing the importance and impact that this type of service could have on others, Jake and co-founder William McNulty returned home to officially begin Team Rubicon as a nonprofit, volunteer, disaster response force.

Now, eight years later, Team Rubicon is 75,000+ volunteers strong and providing emergency response teams, free of charge, to communities all over the world that have been affected by disasters.

The “TRibe’s” Cultural Principles

Team Rubicon’s TRibe is guided by six cultural principles:

  1. Mission first, Greyshirts always: When a member of Team Rubicon deploys with the team, they earn the coveted grey Team Rubicon shirt, which every member wears as a badge of honor. The shirt is earned through sweat and hard work, as is the title, “Greyshirt.” This first principle is a reminder to focus on the task at hand, and always take care of those who are in the field executing those tasks.
  2. Step into the Arena: In 1910, during his inaugural address, President Roosevelt gave a rousing speech in which he referred to “the man in the arena… whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” With this, each and every member of Team Rubicon sees themselves as “the man in the arena,” doing what needs to be done, without excuse, and seeing obstacles as mere challenges to be overcome.
  3. Everyone has a role, know it: Being made up primarily of former military members, it is understood that everyone has a job to do, and the only way to succeed in the mission is to work as a team. Sometimes that means being out in the field, getting dirty; other times that means acting as logistical support. But, no matter what, it always means working as one cohesive unit.
  4. Get sh*t done: Every member of Team Rubicon shows up highly motivated and ready to accomplish the task at hand. Whether that is rebuilding homes in Joplin, Missouri, making water rescues in Houston, Texas or administering medical aid in South Sudan, the mission is clear; “Get sh*t done” and don’t let anything stand in your way.
  5. Change your socks: Most members and former members of the military can tell you why it is critical to take care of your feet while in the field. Team Rubicon uses this principle to remind all members to take time for self-care. This principle does not apply just to their feet, but also caring for themselves mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, so that they are ready to meet the next challenge.
  6. Your mother is a donor: You’ve heard the saying, “Take care of it like it was your own”? Well, Team Rubicon members take care of their equipment and supplies as though mom had donated them herself.

Their Commitment to Duty and Partnership

As the State of Texas declared a state of emergency for 30 counties prior to Hurricane Harvey making landfall, Team Rubicon was already monitoring the situation and staging volunteers, equipment and resources. Once the storm cleared, it was time for them to go to work. Deploying trained water rescue crews, Team Rubicon coordinated with local first responders to assist in rescuing victims, clearing neighborhoods and acting as reconnaissance teams to better inform command and control officials in addition to incoming crews. These volunteer crews conducted 73 floodwater rescues and safely evacuated 43 animals. Over the next three months, roughly 2,000 volunteers served nearly 1,000 residents affected by Harvey at no cost to homeowners. As of December 2017, the retail value of assistance provided in response to Hurricane Harvey by Team Rubicon was estimated at $6.72 million.

Shortly after Harvey, along came Hurricanes Irma and Maria. While 190 volunteers deployed to serve Floridians affected by Irma, another 226 volunteers deployed to Puerto Rico to support the distribution of medical supplies and necessities in coordination with local and state authorities, provide medical care, conduct community needs assessments and perform debris removal and chainsaw operations with assistance from local volunteers. Volunteers treated 2,592 patients and serviced 33 homes on the island.

In the wake of 2017’s unprecedented hurricane season, Team Rubicon also launched a pilot recovery program in Texas where they’ve committed to rebuilding 100 homes by 2020, and another in Puerto Rico where they’re working to rebuild and replace hurricane-damaged roofs across the island.

And Team Rubicon’s mission continues. Since their founding in 2010, Team Rubicon has deployed to over 230 disaster response operations around the world, joining veterans, first responders and what they affectionately refer to as “kick a** civilians,” in serving disaster-stricken communities in need. In doing so, Team Rubicon also seeks to provide their veterans with three things they lose after leaving the military: a purpose, gained through disaster response; community, built by serving with others; and identity, created by joining a new mission. The Result: Team Rubicon is building the strongest, most effective cadre of disaster response workers in the world.

We are confident you will feel inspired by Jake Wood’s message and Team Rubicon’s mission. We also anticipate you will find inspiration throughout your experiences at Summit 2018 as you attend the informative sessions and network with your peers from around the nation.

Don’t miss this Keynote session!

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This post was written by Dan Gentry

Dan Gentry is an Emergency Management Consultant and Solutions Integration Manager at Intermedix. In his role, Dan is responsible for assisting our federal, local, and international government partners by supporting their missions of crisis management, public safety, emergency response and intelligence gathering. Prior to joining Intermedix, Dan was an Emergency Preparedness and Law Enforcement SME and CSRA Inc. Dan obtained his bachelor's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Military University.