Emergency Preparedness & Response: My Scope of Practice

Hey, my name is Thurston and I wanted to take this opportunity to share a little bit of what I do here at World Wide Academy Training Services, and what’s in my head and my heart (my heart is pretty safe, my head, on the other hand, is kinda scary).  

I have been intrigued by the preparedness ethos since my pre-teens. I had a brief stint in the Boy Scouts of American, where my scout troop did an excellent job of planting the seed of “Be Prepared” in my psyche.

My Understanding of How This Works

It wasn’t until my career in security that the concepts of “Emergency Preparedness” became life for me as an adult.

I used to do some executive protection work for several years. It was during this time I noticed that most of my peers in close protection were more interested in doing security advance planning or surveillance detection. I wasn’t conscious of it at the time, but I gravitated more toward contingency planning. I was the “hemorrhoid” who always asked, “what if…..”  

I was the guy thinking about what do we do if the vehicle we’re driving our principal around in breaks down? Do our team and the principal have a ” Personal Emergency Relocation Kit (PERK) ” (Bug-Out Bag) that travels with us and an alternate one staged at a backup location? Where is our severe weather gear? I understood that we cannot possibly plan for the possibility of everything, but you have got to plan for the “important” things that may even be outside the realm of probabilities!  

“Emergency Preparedness and Response” began to emerge as a specialization of mine without me even realizing it.  

Phulasso, “To Guard”

My calling began to become clearer when I was led to arranging what I envisioned into a systemic program called “Phulasso”, Greek for, “to guard”.    

I wanted to develop a “third-party” protection system that will train practitioners to provide safety & security for their families and their communities against a broad spectrum of natural and man-made threats in the most effective way, with minimal resources.

The System

Phulasso encompasses the following disciplines:

  • Emergency Preparedness & Response Planning
  • Physical Security
  • Self Management Skills
  • Personal Protection
  • Anti-Terrorism
  • Fire Safety
  • Emergency Medical – Austere/Wilderness Medicine for Pets & People

Stay in My Lane!

While working here at “Worldwide Academy Training Services”, my training background and experience have come together to enable me to provide basic and advanced instruction in the above mentioned disciplines.

Because the topic of emergency preparedness & response encompasses more than a few disciplines, it was important for me to have a clear definition of my “scope of practice”. I am no homesteader nor bushcraft survival expert; not a tier-one operator (military Special Operations veteran), nor a veteran military medic. In other words, I have enough sense to know that I must, “stay in my lane”. The areas where I have limited or no knowledge, I eagerly leave for those experts that do.

I am a committed teacher and counselor, and life-long learner, encouraging you to share your knowledge and to learn with me.


Present Situation…Mid-Air

Today was the day. I took the dive. It was my last day at the part-time job I held for almost two years. It was a bittersweet day.

Somehow it didn’t feel like what I felt like in that dream I last wrote about. I had some mixed emotions. Mostly, sad because I will not see my co-workers as often nor the kids I have grown to love. Somewhat excited to be free to devote more time to this mission and the new business developing. But I didn’t quite have the peace I felt in that dream when I was floating on my back in the water.

My kids hugged me and told me not to go. Then off they ran to greet their parents soon forgetting I wouldn’t be there next time. Some of my co-workers encouraged me by telling me how they had learned much from me. Something I really hadn’t realized. The co-worker who worked with me in the same classroom brought me flowers and, offered to help me write my book. My supervisor kept giving me the sad, pouty face and thanked me several times before reminding me to come back at any time. The executive director thanked me and offered to help in any way they could with this mission. I held back my tears and kept telling them all I’d probably be back in several weeks! Just because I’d need to see them and would help when they were desperate. Time will tell.

I cried on the way home. When I started this position, I tell you, it was hard! I had probably the most difficult group of kids, tweens, that had been there in recent years. Most of those kids now when I see them hug me and tell me they’re doing well, at least in their minds. Then last year I had a number of very difficult kindergarten children. I made it. They made it. They have their moments but, they are doing well. This year has been the best. That makes it all the harder to leave!

It is time though. I must move forward. It’s now or never. It’s do-or-die. Failure is not an option. Momentum is building and the time is now.

As I reflect on the emotions I’m experiencing I realize these are the emotions of “mid-air”. They’re crashing one into the other- sadness, joy in knowing I did my best, relief, excitement, and just maybe a twinge of fear if I let it in. I’m taking that breath before I hit the water.

And, on impact, I’ll be on my back, floating, and in peace. Thanks for following along the journey! Tomorrow I hit the ground running!


Winter Weather Preparedness for Cats & Dogs (With a special feral cat reminder)

Many of us take for granted that our pets don’t require any special attention during the winter months, but that is far from the truth, especially if your pet happens to be a breed that is not particularly adept to cold temperatures, is in fair to poor health, very young or very old, or just has a reputation for having “high-risk behaviors”.  

The purpose of this article is to serve as an awareness tool that I hope will jump-start your “preparedness mind” to take steps to prevent and respond to the related health risks for this time of year.

Winter-Related Conditions

There are certain cold-related conditions that can lead to potential health risks or even death for our pets, and the pets in our community. Conditions like:   

  • Power Outages
  • Winter-Related Medical Injuries
  • Heater/Furnace Accidents


If you have to take your outside, be mindful of downed power lines, especially at night where dangerous electrical hazards may be more difficult to see. If there is a risk of exposed power lines outside, it’s a good idea not to let pets outdoors unsupervised at all.  

Winter-Related Medical Injuries

Let’s divide Winter-Related Medical Injuries into two categories: Seasonal Injuries and Cold-Related Injuries.

Seasonal Injuries

Anti-freeze. Often found in standing water on driveways & streets. The sweet and tasty toxin that can lead to a quick and agonizing death. Initial symptoms: drunken walk, drooling, vomiting, seizing, and excessive thirst and urination. The result is severe kidney failure.   

Salt/Ice Melt. Toxic material that pets end up licking off their paws. It can cause vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Some of these products can also cause chemical burns on the animals paw pads.

Ice/Drowning. Falling through ice can lead to drowning. Pets should be discouraged from walking on ice altogether. They are not capable of determining whether ice can bear their weight or not.

Winter Holiday Plants

  • Poinsettias, have toxic sap that can cause irritation to mouth and stomach as well as vomiting.
  • Mistletoe. Extremely toxic. Symptoms include drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain. If ingested in large amounts, walking drunk, collapse, seizures and death. Warrants an immediate emergency veterinarian visit.
  • Holly Berries. Toxic berries & leaves. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and depression.
  • Pine Tree Needles. Mouth irritation.
  • Lily. Extremely deadly to cats. Any pet that has ingested any part of this plant should be taken to the veterinarian immediately.  

Cold-Related Injuries

Hypothermia. Being exposed to cold temperatures that reduce core body temperature at 99°F (35°C) and below. Symptoms are pale gums, strong shivering, listlessness or lethargy.

Arthritic Pain. Animals with arthritis often experience more discomfort due to cold temperatures, decreased physical activity and changes in barometric pressure.

Heater/Furnace Accidents

Burns. When pets jump, dive, slide or bump into or near open flames (fireplaces/stoves) or exposed heating elements (heaters), they can get burned, or start house fires. Carbon monoxide poisoning is also a threat.

I want to encourage you a responsible pet owner to be as proactive as humanly possible to prevent or be prepared to manage the threats that your pets may experience at this time of year.

Get basic life support and awareness training for your cats and dogs so that you will know what to do in case of emergencies. If you already have the training, its a good time to review what you have learned and “drill your skills”.

Feral Cats

For those angels of mercy who care for our feral cat communities, don’t forget their special needs during the winter months.


You must make certain that whatever shelter they use, is “insulated” to weather the extreme cold of the region. Non-moisture absorbent material like straw works very well. When the temperature drops, cats will go wherever they can get warmth, even if the area is unsafe. We have to continue to monitor their sheltering location to make sure that it remains safe, dry and warm.   

Food & Water

During cold temperatures, the nutritional needs of cats increase. Therefore, their demand for more food and water must be addressed, particularly to avoid dehydration. Providing wet food in insulated containers can help with hydration by making the food easier to digest.

Jumping Off

I had a dream several months ago. I was on a pier-like bridge down at the river that separates my town from the next. I was at the beginning of the pier. As I began to walk forward I noticed a post next to me. I thought to myself, “If I jump in here I might hit the post and hurt myself.”

I continued to walk forward across the pier and when I got to the end, I dove in. I didn’t feel myself hit the water nor even remember myself submerging. All at once, I was floating on my back, hands behind my head, basking in the sun. It was the most incredible feeling! One of joy, peace, and rest! I then woke up.

On waking, I remembered this dream immediately! For the most part, I have come to realize which dreams are of my own flesh and which are divinely delivered. This was, I believe, divinely delivered regarding the timing and the result of my “jumping off” moment.

If you read my last post, “Flying Squirrels”, you’ll remember I stated that the time was coming soon that I needed to “jump off, fly, and hit the ground running”. NOW is that time!

You’ll also remember that I’ve done this before. No biggy, right? Wrong! It was harder this time. And as I stated in that blog, I’m taking off from a more difficult position this time.

I’m going to be open and real with you. Times are difficult for me. They have been for about 18 years now! But, that has never stopped me before. When it was time to step out into a new season, a new adventure, I did it. I’m not saying I didn’t ponder and pray and seek counsel but, I was less fearful. This time was different because it truly feels like an all-in, do-or-die moment!

So what’s the big deal? What am I jumping off into? For the past almost two years I’ve worked a part time job to…well, to eat, put gas in my vehicle, and maybe pay a few bills. And I mean a few! That job, including travel time, ate up 5 hours of my day. I worked on building World Wide Academy Training Services around those hours. On top of that, I am preparing to put my house on the market for sale which requires time. AND…my mother is slowing down and needs my help.

There just wasn’t enough time for me to do everything! In order to move steadily forward and keep my sanity I needed to make a change. So I decided, after much wrestling with my Creator, to walk away from the part time position. To dive off the pier, to jump, land, and hit the ground running. To take a leap of faith. To put my all into this organization!

I gave my supervisor notice of my resigning. Getting the words out of my mouth was the hardest part but, I did it! When I took the dive, I had no idea how the bills would get paid. This will either “fly” or I will lose everything. I have to do it. It’s a massive vision (which I hope to continue to unveil as time goes on). I’m not getting any younger and people are depending on my progress. The time is NOW!

So, thank you for coming along on this journey with me (actually us, because it will take others to bring the vision forward). I don’t know what the next months really look like. I don’t know what every step will look like. I do know that it will be another time of growth and faith-building for me. I hope you will be inspired by my journey. Enough so that you will step out and do what you were created to do! Let’s run together. I’m looking forward to “floating on my back” with joy, peace, and rest. How about you? Here’s to childlike faith!


P.S. Just in the last week, after my diving- off decision, I came across an opportunity to partner with a dear friend and assist her with her mission. In assisting her I’ll be able to bring in more income and move WWATS forward. You never know what’s waiting on the other side until you dive in!

Flying Squirrels

As I was coming to the end of my walk today I noticed a squirrel fly about a foot off the ground into the air and hit the ground running. The thought came to my mind, “That’s me soon.”

It’s soon coming time to take off, fly through the air, and hit the ground running…again. It won’t be the first time I’ve flown through the air, completely trusting,abandoned feelings of reason, no fear. Why does it seem harder this time?

I’ve been here before, many times. I was younger then. More daring. Maybe I subconsciously thought I’d have more time to recover just in case “I” failed. Or maybe that mission didn’t seem so massive. Hmmm…. I don’t know, I don’t think so.

As I wrote in the first blog, it’s been a journey, a life-long journey, to get to where I am today. It’s been a process. And, man, have I been through the process! On good days I’m keeping a good perspective and appreciating the past and how I got here. On not so good days (just being real, I have a few) I wonder why I did what I did and question if I’m off my rocker-again!

I’m trying to remember, in the words of my Creator, that “perspective is very important”. I’m remembering that HE put this vision that some would call a crazy dream inside of me. That He WILL provide as He has done in the past.

But it’s different this time. In the past, when I opened a new business or quit a job to start a new business or nonprofit I didn’t start from the point I’m at now. Ok, so here’s where it gets a bit personal for me. But, hey, people like authenticity, right?

I am not where I “should” be at this time of my life according to this world’s standards. You know, according to those who set the standards for success. I struggle, big time, where all that’s concerned, according to their “standards”. I should be readying for retirement. Vacationing. Slowing down. So “they” say. (Who are these people anyway?!) But I never was one to follow the world’s standards. Hence, the path I chose.

But now it’s getting near time to jump off, fly and hit the ground running. I’m starting from a really hard place! BUT, I’m so very excited (some would call me crazy!). I know it will be a time of great growth, again. I know it will be a time of a greater measure of faith, again. And I know it will be a time when I’ll be joined by some amazing people, see the hand of YHWH Elohim’s (who most call God) provision, miracles, amazing grace and courage!

I’m planning on writing about the journey as we move forward into new land. (If you haven’t seen our Facebook page or YouTube channel, check them out. I’ve posted some videos and they’ll be many more to come!)

So, I invite you to come along with me on this journey and watch what HE will do! Put on your running shoes!

Pear Pie and the Basics

I have a pear tree in my backyard. This time of the year I try my best to snatch the pears off the ground and the tree, staying ahead of the squirrels, bees, and flies who feast on them. So many pears! I give them to neighbors and friends. I put them in my salad. I mix them with my vegetables. I make pear honey. I bake pear pies.

So what does pear pie have to do with the basics?

As I was mixing the ingredients for my pie I got to thinking about the amount of time it was taking to make it. Mostly because of peeling the pears! I thought about how we have such little time to bake and cook like we used to. Or like our parents and generations before us did. It really takes effort and time to cook and bake as they did. (Even with a store-bought pie crust!)

So much was different in “the good ‘ole” days. The best thing was time spent with family and friends. These days we can barely fit time in for our families.

The culture we live in holds us captive. We can’t (or maybe we just don’t) live as generations before us did. All in the name of progress. We work more in order to stay afloat in a system which was meant to keep us captive, as slaves. Robbing us of our time, energy, relationships, provision.

I wonder how many of us would thrive and not just survive if the system were to collapse? I’m really concerned about the younger generations, especially the children. How many of them will know how to produce the foods needed to survive and then to prepare them? What about living in less than “ideal” circumstances, especially without their electronics!? Or how to fix their vehicle if they have one? What about sewing their own clothes?

We, at World Wide Academy Training Services, are training people to know what to do in times of emergency, especially how to help others. We have a vision to educate, train, and then release our students into a struggling world. We have a vision to teach our children and grandchildren how not to just survive but, to thrive! Our hope and belief is that one day soon we will be teaching on a farm – things like gardening and farming, fishing, cooking and baking, sewing, auto mechanics, and more of well, the basics.

So now you know what pear pie and the basics have to do with one another. By the way, it’s delicious!

Our Story

Thanks for joining us!

Our certified instructors have decades of real-life experience in…

  •   Education & the Arts
  • Basic & Advanced Life Support
  •   Self Defense
  •   Terrorism Awareness
  •   Safety & Security

Certified Instructors

Donna Ruggiero, Executive Director and Instructor

Hi and welcome to WWATS! Our story is one of years of molding and shaping and transformation! It’s one of trials and testing, perseverance, and patience- with lots of laughter and blessings along the way!

I grew up knowing I would be a teacher. My journey took me from college to owning my own performing arts school to founding a small, private school in my hometown neighborhood to this present endeavor. What a journey it has been! There really isn’t enough space to write about it here. One day I may write a book!

My desire is to assist my students in becoming life-long learners. I love teaching! I love when I see my students’ faces light up because THEY have discovered something new or something finally clicked! I see myself as a guide helping my students discover the gifts and passions that make them who they are, preparing them to make a difference in their environments and in the earth!

Thurston and I started working on the training workshops and classes during the time that School of Creative Arts (the school I opened in my neighborhood) was in operation. We had met during an outreach in the neighborhood and discovered we both shared the desire to see our neighbors, students, family, and friends be prepared for emergency situations. Thurston spent many hours preparing and imparting valuable knowledge and practice to our students at SOCA. HE is the expert in this area while I stick to the academic teaching and administration, and assistance with the emergency medical and emergency preparedness trainings!

I’m excited for this next step along the journey! Thanks for coming along with us! I hope to meet you all some day at one of our trainings either on-site or online!

Thurston D. Gill, Jr., Instructor Emergency Medical, Emergency Preparedness, Safety & Security