ONEM: Training essential for a good team
Repetition. It is a key to success. Whether one is an athlete perfecting his or her own individual skill for a competition or is a part of a team, a musician, or even a writer. Practice is necessary. And this can be seen with Osage Nation Emergency Management; they train year-round
ONEM is a part of a brotherhood/sisterhood through its constant contact with similar programs. ONEM offers their services, they are recipients when in need of assistance, and this brings about a reciprocal sharing of education and experiential knowledge. So far this year it has been a slower fire season than usual with sixty-plus fires since the first of the year; some seasons can have that many fires in one month.
The mission statement for ONEM states that “as an exercise of Tribal sovereignty, the Osage Nation Wild Land Fire Management program will build partnerships with surrounding jurisdictions and agencies to mitigate all hazards.” This is seen through Instant Command Training—fire fighting classes available to any organization.
ONEM provides information to Osage County citizens, whether members of the Osage Nation or not, on ways to stay safe. Depending on the time of the year, ONEM distributes safety tips and alerts ranging from changing batteries in smoke or carbon monoxide detectors to developing an escape plan during a house fire to the precautions one should take during tornado season.
The department also collaborates with other Osage Nation programs. Last summer ONEM assisted with the clearing away of brush for a pumpkin garden Osage Nation Communities of Excellence (COE) established at 1st and Prudom in Pawhuska. This year ONEM has been working again with COE in the new gardens at Bird Creek Farm.
In February, ONEM began burning the fields of Bird Creek Farm for easier plowing. On this particular day, members from the Flathead Nation were present along with individuals from Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky. Another group working alongside ONEM was members from the North Carolina Fish and Wildlife Department. ONEM personnel provided chainsaw training to the Osage Nation Roads Department and Maintenance Department who did work at clearing away trees at Bird Creek Farm.
The ONEM personnel participate in community events and activities such as the Pawhuska Christmas Parade of Lights and Osage Nation WAHZHAZHI Christmas by assisting Smokey Bear, who makes appearances at these types of venues.
Another training tool ONEM utilizes is a Sand Table. And it is exactly what it sounds like, a table filled with sand. This allows landscapes to be created, either hilly or flat, and with the use of toy helicopters and trucks representing emergency vehicles, trees and vegetation, actual scenarios allow the firefighters to study and prepare for real-life situations. Black yarn is used to represent roads and red yarn indicates fire. This tool allows ONEM to devise ways to combat an emergency before it occurs. In other cases, the Sand Table is useful to reenact scenarios. This allows the firefighters to determine if the action taken was proper or if there could have been alternatives that might have been more useful.
A good team knows how to perform as a cooperative. Each individual brings his or her own expertise to whatever circumstance is facing them. So it is crucial to keep training current and to understand how to use and maintain the equipment. Not only are the ONEM personnel’s lives at stake, so are those who are working alongside them, plus the citizens of the county.