Thomas Yatabe - SERC Award

florida sercAWARDS PROGRAM PROCEDURES
The State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) has established the following procedures to guide the Local Emergency Planning Committee’s (LEPCs) recommendations of nominees for the State of Florida Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) Awards Program. The annual award was created to recognize Mr. Thomas Yatabe who served the SERC and LEPC in the earliest years of its inception in the 1980s. Mr. Yatabe help to build the State of Florida’s hazardous materials program implementing the elements of EPCRA within his region and providing essential planning knowledge, building training curriculum for hazmat teams, and working closely with State and LEPC staff to build a cohesive program that focused on public-private partnership with planners, first responders, and facility owner/operators. His commitment to the States efforts in building the SERC, LEPCs, and State Training Task Force was critical in the program that LEPCs and facilities participate.  His outstanding achievements and critical participation helped to build the outstanding State hazardous materials planning programs in place that serve industry chemical facilities, and community populations ensuring the essence of EPCRA is met in each program initiated and maintained by the State of Florida Division of Emergency Management, the SERC, the State Training Task Force, and the LEPCs within the State of Florida.

Four categories of eligibility were established for the awards program and recognize one (1) awardee from one of the following: a member of the SERC, a member or alternate of a Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), an individual, agency/organization, or an industry or business.

The LEPC Chairperson or Coordinator shall submit the name of a single nominee, chosen from one of the four categories of eligibility, who has made an outstanding contribution to the hazardous materials planning program as the LEPC’s nomination for a Thomas Yatabe - SERC Award.  Multiple nominees may be recommended for Certificates of Appreciation for their contributions to the program, events, or planning, training, and/or exercises within the region. The LEPC shall forward it recommendations to the SERC where nominations will be reviewed by the SERC’s Membership Committee, and Recommendations for awards will be acted upon by the SERC at the October meeting. The SERC invites each region’s awardee to the January SERC meeting where the SERC Chair presents the award to the recipient.

2021

Mr. Louis Dixel, Florida Department of Transportation - Palm Beach County
Mr. Louis Dixel currently serves as the Senior Safety and Health Specialist and District Four Hazardous Spills Lead for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and in May 2021 was elected to serve as the TCLEPC Vice Chair. Mr. Dixel has been nominated because he exemplifies the spirit to which the Yatabe award was created. He has fostered the TCLEPC/EPCRA mission of chemical awareness and release preparedness through local and regional coordination and collaboration with first responder agencies and the Committee. He has volunteered his time and expertise in planning and conduct of tabletop and functional exercises, special projects, and has supported staff in all aspects Committee business over the last six years, never hesitating to provide whatever resources might be needed to ensure the TCLEPC is able to accomplish the task at hand. In addition, he has assisted and advocated education and outreach between local, regional, and State responders, EHS facilities, and other Committee members regarding incident alert and notification and hazardous materials training. He facilitates outstanding collaborative discussion within the TCLEPC membership that furthers understanding of FDOT response capabilities and consistently builds relationships with members and supporting agencies.

2021 Thomas Yatabe Awardee
Certificates of Appreciation
Florida State Division of Emergency Management, Staff – Technological Section

2020

Mr. Gaynam Rackstraw  & Ms. Jean Krum, Helena Agri-Solutions, Inc,  St. Lucie County

Mr. Gaynam Rackstraw and Ms. Jean Krum currently serve as the Operations Managers and Safety Directors for Helena Agri Enterprises, LLC, Fort Pierce, Florida. Mr. Rackstraw and Ms. Krum have fostered the LEPC/EPCRA mission through the interjurisdictional coordination and collaboration with St. Lucie County first responder agencies for the planning and conduct of Operation Ignition LEPC tabletop exercise. He has advocated outreach and training for first responders, facility personnel, and chemical manufacturer facility owners and operators prior to and post exercise to enhance preparedness planning for hazardous materials releases and overall safety.  They have worked collaboratively with the LEPC coordinator and dedicated department staff to participate in Treasure Coast outreach workshops that provide in-depth education on EPCRA, CERCLA programs and LEPC planning and training opportunities.  They provided valuable input and feedback from the chemical facility perspective as well as expertise on chemical storage, disposal, and safety. They encourage networking and coordination first responders at every opportunity promote public/private relationships at all levels of organization.

Jean Krum  Gaynam Rackstraw

Certificates of Appreciation

Battalion Chief Daniel Mikels, St. Lucie County Fire District, Special Operations/Hazmat
TCLEPC Chairman, Mr. Frank Lasaga, Jupiter Island Police Department
Mr. Carlos Valle, Pratt & Whitney

2019

Ms. Norva Blandin, Department of Environmental Protection – Southeast District
Ms. Norva Blandin currently serves as the Environmental Manager, Compliance Assurance Program (CAP), for Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), Southeast District – West Palm Beach.  Ms. Blandin has fostered the LEPC/EPCRA mission throughout the region through the avocation of outreach and training for first responders, facility owners, emergency managers, and planners for hazardous materials and chemical waste compliance and safety.  She has worked collaboratively with the LEPC coordinator and dedicated her department staff to participate in Treasure Coast outreach workshops that provide in-depth education on EPCRA, CERCLA programs and LEPC planning and training opportunities.  She provides valuable input and feedback from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) perspective, as well as expertise on compliance requirements for chemical storage, disposal, and safety. She encourages networking and coordination with the FDEM staff at every opportunity not only for program personnel, but also for private chemical facility management, promoting public/private relationships at all levels of organization.

2019 Thomas Yatabe Awardee 2  2019 Thomas Yatabe Awardee 1
Certificates of Appreciation

Ms. Alannah Irwin, Department of Environmental Protection – Southeast District
Ms. Diana De La Rosa, Department of Environmental Protection – Southeast District