Friday, January 30, 2015

Daniel Velarde: Continuing the path of service

Service, Commitment and Leadership: These three values are integral pieces of Daniel Velarde’s personal and professional life. Throughout his 20-year military career to his second career in safety training, Daniel has always been ready to learn. Multiple training opportunities, culminating with the TEEX Certified Safety and Health Official (CSHO) program, have been a natural step for someone dedicated to serving others.

During his 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, which included deployments to Saudi Arabia and Iraq, he worked in a civil engineering group as Heavy Equipment Operator and then Crew Chief. Velarde’s commitment to leadership propelled him to a role as a training leader and unit safety officer where he trained office personnel on safety and risk management.

He studied to become a paralegal, which led to opportunities with the Judge Advocate General Corps, where he eventually managed a legal office. Then he was tapped to establish a new Environmental Law Field Support Center in San Antonio, serving both as an office manager and a paralegal for complex environmental litigation.

On Flag Day, June 14, 2013, Velarde celebrated his Retirement Ceremony in San Antonio.  One month later, he found out about TEEX from a friend, who knew of his interest in the environmental field and his background in law and policy.

“I learned that TEEX offers a program for veterans, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me,” he said. “I had met the requirements of serving honorably, and the GI benefits application was fairly simple. I reached Steve Robinson, the Veteran’s Liaison for TEEX, who pointed me in the right direction, and I was able to get started with TEEX training courses right away.”

As a student in the CSHO fast-track program, Velarde attended courses at several different TEEX campuses -- including San Antonio, Austin, and Mesquite. During this time, he completed the OSHA Train-the-Trainer General Industry safety and health outreach program, as well as the Train-the-Trainer Construction Industry course.

In addition to General Industry and Construction courses, he gained professional training in PEC Safeland Safe Gulf, Medic First Aid Adult and Infant CPR, Aerial Working Platform, Forklift train-the-trainer, Fall Protection, Confined Space, and Hydrogen Sulfide. He accumulated about 426 credit hours in less than six months. The TEEX program not only helped him improve his safety training knowledge, he said, but also helped him to acquire better teaching and communications skills, and improved reporting methods.

Velarde was already receiving job offers, but wanted to complete his training in order to gain the most knowledge. This commitment to excellence also paid off – upon finishing his coursework, he did find the right job. His years of military service, combined with the recognized TEEX CSHO classes helped him to land a great job and negotiate his salary.

“The training provided that leverage, and helped me to become a strong candidate,” said Daniel. “I truly feel that TEEX helped me make a name for myself and become established.”

Initially he was hired by Mesa Safety Services, where he worked with oil and gas clients in Texas, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. Then in December 2014, he started his own company, The Safe-Way Training Company (TSWTC, Inc.) based out of San Antonio, and continues third-party consulting for Mesa Safety Services.

His values of service, commitment, and leadership continue to shine through, and the CSHO courses offered by TEEX have helped him continue to serve others by sharing the importance of safety, and ultimately, saving lives.

By Alison Sawyer, Communication Specialist
Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Adding CSHO credentials from TEEX boosts family business

John M. Harrell has worked in and around the oil and gas industry for much of his life. Employed in risk management for 20 years, he saw an opportunity to serve several industries through a focus on safety. Partnering with his son John R. Harrell, who had been working in the aerospace industry for over 12 years, the Harrells found the perfect path to their goal through the TEEX Certified Safety and Health Official™ (CSHO) program.

Initially named John Harrell Safety, the father and son team renamed their business Axis Safety Consultants, LLC, after receiving their CSHO credentials. The company, based out of Boerne, Texas, specializes in safety training, and outfitting safety trailers and “cool down” trailers for job sites. Initially, the fact that Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) is a part of The Texas A&M University System, along with the recommendation of a friend who had received CSHO – General Industry credentials through the TEEX training program, caught their attention. “After looking at programs offered through several other colleges and universities, we liked the connection between TEEX and Texas A&M University, so we chose the TEEX CSHO track.”

Because of the quality and depth of safety training available through TEEX, and the variety of courses and tracks offered, there are many options for individuals seeking CSHO credentials. The Harrells chose the Quik-Trac construction and oil field endorsements. “I have seen times where one industry will be doing well, and the other not so well, so we wanted to try to have our bases covered as a business,” said John M. They were able to train in First Aid, CPR and H2S Instructor Development, all adding to their expertise and business value.

The Quik-Trac program allows safety and health professionals to earn their CSHO certificate in as few as four months by taking classes at a single location. John M. said that this fast track program worked well for them because of its flexibility.

The TEEX courses were top-notch, John said. “The instructors were a wealth of knowledge and experience, and they all represented the Texas A&M System very well,” he added. “The instructors had a way of letting us know that they really cared about us and our futures; they did their best to make sure we walked out of the class with the knowledge we needed to be successful.” 

The CSHO credentials have set them apart from many and given them the confidence to succeed. “We are now more observant of construction job sites and oil field practices. We have helped our customers implement simple safety measures that are often overlooked, such as having first aid kits in their trucks, and maintaining and storing tools as recommended by the manufacturer,” John notes. “Additionally, the TEEX CSHO training has helped us pay more attention and recognize potential hazards in the field.”

Just as a friend recommended this course to him, he plans to recommend the TEEX CSHO program to others. “It’s like being part of a brotherhood.”

-         -- Alison Sawyer, Communications Specialist, Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service

Thursday, June 5, 2014

TEEX Explosive Breacher course is the bomb.

Explosive entry continues to grow in American Law Enforcement, and it can be a viable tactical option for high-risk warrants and hostage rescues. The 40-hour TEEX Explosive Breacher Entry course is designed to increase the knowledge of this tactic and its appropriate application, and to provide hands-on skills training for SWAT, Tactical, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams.

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During this five-day explosive entry training course, participants learn to construct distraction devices and the proper use of other explosives by conducting approximately 60 detonations, using various amounts of explosives, on Class 1 Steel doors as well as solid wood and hollow core doors. The training helps to ensure proper logging, placement and application of methods used to gain entry in a safe but effective manner. A recent participant describes his experience:
As a bomb tech in California, I have attended a large number of schools. I am taking the time to write this evaluation because I am so impressed with the quality of this explosive breacher school. To begin with, Kelly Boaz and Joseph Littlejohn were the perfect instructors for this course. Their personal knowledge and experience went far beyond ‘subject matter experts.’ Even with their tactical background, they communicated effectively and were great teachers… 
There were at least six different types of charges for students to build. There were at least five different types of doors… It goes without saying that we as students completed a lot of breaches. Yet I was amazed that I learned something new with every shot we built.
 
Last, where the true application of this information began was in the ‘shoot house.’…The scenario selected was spot on and demonstrated the need for Bomb and SWAT teams to work together in the future. 
The use of simulations elevated the realism to an unprecedented level and really drove into my mind the reasons for tactical awareness... I must say I am very impressed and would recommend this class to all supervisors and outside agencies I work with.  Well done. 
Nicholas Kennedy, Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, California
About TEEX

World renowned for its hands-on, customized training, the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) offers a wide range of technical and skills training programs in emergency response and Homeland Security. TEEX provides training and technical assistance to people from all 50 states, five U.S. territories, the District of Columbia and 79 countries. The agency is a member of The Texas A&M University System and has delivered law enforcement extension training for more than 70 years.