Meet Our team
Our Partners have provided Incident Command System- ICS training, Incident Management Team- IMT development and consulting services as well as evaluating IMT performance through developing and conducting training exercises for both public and private entities across the US as well as worldwide.
R. RANGER DORN, Managing Partner
Ranger is a founding member of URTA and manages business operations. Recently retired after having been a fire service member for over 40 years. He has responded to All Hazards incidents nationwide as part of both Regional and National Incident Management Teams, including major hurricanes and wildfires. His ICS qualifications include Type 1 Incident Commander and Type 1 Operations Section Chief. He was part of the Covid 19 response supporting a Type 3 All Hazard Incident Management Team. Ranger’s All-Hazards experience includes training and responses to hazardous materials, radiological materials, Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF), Urban Search and Rescue (USAR), Shipboard Firefighting, and Water Rescue.
Ranger has been a qualified training and exercise provider for over 30 years. He has created and delivered oil spill exercises and training to responders from California to the Arctic Circle. He has provided training and exercises to USCG Incident Commanders, Incident Management Teams, and Position-Specific training to other agencies nationally. He participated in developing and delivering several DHS/FEMA courses, including WMD First Responder, FEMA Planning Specialist, and Operational Value of Threat, Risk, and Vulnerability Assessments (OPVAL). He is a Train the Trainer instructor for a number of national ICS courses. Ranger has been a Subject Matter Expert for ICS for the National Sheriffs Association, FEMA, and Southern California Edison, as well as the National Domestic Preparedness Coalition, and has developed specialized courses for these entities.
Ranger is qualified as a Master Exercise Practitioner (MEP) and has participated in the development, delivery, evaluation, and after-action reporting for exercises from the local level to National Level Exercises (NLE) for local and state governments as well as private utilities. He is an outreach instructor for California Specialized Training Institute, CSTI, and California State Fire Training (SFT).
Ranger has a Bachelor of Science in Fire Protection Management from the Engineering Department at Cal State Los Angeles and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration (MPA) from Cal State Northridge. He holds a Chief Officer certification from the California State Fire Marshal’s Office.
STEVE HEIL, Managing Partner
Steve Heil is a founding member of URTA and manages curriculum development. He has over 45 years of experience in All-Hazards Incident and Event Management with CAL FIRE, retiring as a Deputy Fire Chief - Executive Officer for CAL FIRE / San Diego County Fire Authority and Deputy Fire Chief – Operations for CAL FIRE / San Luis Obispo County Fire Department. After retirement, Steve worked with CAL FIRE as a Retired Annuitant, teaching and mentoring fire chiefs and emergency managers. He is also trained and certified as a California Peace Officer. He was part of the Covid 19 response supporting a Type 3 All Hazard Incident Management Team.
Steve is an ICS/FEMA Master Instructor / Subject Matter Expert with numerous international assignments. He has taught internationally for USAID / Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USFS-International Programs) and mentored Incident Managers in Asia and Africa. Steve’s international assignments include the Myanmar Cyclones/Floods (2015), APEC Summit in Manila, Philippines (2015), and the International Earthquake - Tsunami Exercise in Sumatra, Indonesia (2014).
Steve was a Type 1 Incident Commander, managing several CAL FIRE Incident Management Teams and one of six CAL FIRE Area Commanders. Steve had numerous assignments in these capacities, including CAL FIRE Unified Area Commander on the 2003 San Bernardino Fire Siege, 2006 Day Fire, 2012 Kern Complex, and Incident Commander on the 2005 Topanga Fire in Los Angeles County and dozens of other major fires and all-hazard incidents.
Since 2010, Steve has worked as a contractor for Southern California Edison in developing ICS training courses for their executives, managers, and various business units, resulting in the company having 24 Incident Management Teams. As Managing Partner with Utility Response Training Associates, he provides incident management and ICS training and exercises to private and public organizations, including Pacific Gas and Electric, Con Edison – NY, San Diego Gas & Electric, and county and city governments.
Steve’s instruction qualifications include all FEMA All-Hazards Position Specific courses for Command & General Staff, ICS 100-400, ICS 402, O-305 (Type 3 IMTs), I-420 (Type 2 IMTs), Advanced All-Hazards Incident Management (520 – Type 1 IMT’s), Area Command (620) plus many NWCG courses.
MICHAEL SANDWICK, Managing Partner
Michael Sandwick began his career in Emergency Services at 19, working for the Los Angeles County Fire Department in their Wildland Division. After 4 years with Los Angeles County, Michael tested and was accepted into the Ventura County Fire Department, where he would enjoy a rewarding 36-year career.
During Michael’s 36 years at the Ventura County Fire Department, he held the position of Firefighter, Engineer, Captain, and Battalion Chief, including the Training Chief. Michael has always felt fortunate in a career that allowed him to work on and command Rescue Squads, Truck Companies, Structural Fire Apparatus, Hazardous Materials Teams, Urban Search and Rescue, and Wildland Hand Crews and oversee a large Training Division.
Michael became involved with Federal Incident Command Teams in 1998 and felt honored to serve as a Division Section Chief, Operations Section Chief, and ultimately as an Incident Commander for over 18 years. Some of Michael’s highlights on the incident command teams include responding during the Space Shuttle recovery in Texas, Hurricane Katrina, and responding to fires throughout the United States as a command team member. He was part of the Covid 19 response supporting a Type 3 All Hazard Incident Management Team. He was part of the Covid 19 response supporting a Type 3 All Hazard Incident Management Team.
After retiring from the Ventura County Fire Department in 2016, Michael accepted a position with Southern California Edison. He taught FEMA Incident Command classes and Utility-specific Incident Command Classes to 28 Incident Command Teams. Michael would also act as a coach for the Southern California Edison teams when activated, along with serving as an Agency Representative at local Emergency Operations Centers.
Michael is a FEMA Certified Instructor for a number of All-Hazards Position Specific Courses and State Certified Instructor for the ICS 100-400 courses. He has presented courses in multiple states.
Michael became a Managing Partner with URTALLC in March 2020 and has continued instructing FEMA and utility-related courses. Michael also has worked with a local Type 3 Incident Management Team as a coach and mentor during their Covid 19 response.
Education has always played a part in Michael’s career. Michael has attended and instructed over 35 Incident Command System classes as the Training Chief for Ventura County Fire Department and the Electrical Utilities. Michael also obtained his Bachelor of Science degree and a Master’s Degree in Emergency Management.
PHILLIP VENERIS, Managing Partner
Phill retired from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) as the North Coast Battalion Chief in the San Luis Obispo Unit in December 2015 after over 32 years with the agency.
From 2008 to 2015, Phill served continuously on Incident Management Teams (IMT) for either the US Forest Service or CAL FIRE. Phill’s ICS qualifications include Assistant Area Commander – Planning, Type 1 Incident Commander, Type 1 Safety Officer, Type 1 Liaison Officer, Type 1 Planning Section Chief, and a Type 1 Operations Section Chief. Phill is still qualified in several subordinate positions to these qualifications. Phill currently still responds with the San Luis Obispo County Type 3 IMT as an incident advisor.
Phill's deployment experience includes numerous complex assignments involving a variety of All-Hazards incidents, including flood, earthquake, tsunami, mass-casualty, hazardous material, wildland fires, and other hazards. Phill has responded to several western states in a variety of ICS positions. Phill was assigned to Australia in 2010 as a wildland-urban interface subject matter expert as part of an international exchange. Since retiring, he has worked internationally as an instructor, exercise evaluator, and emergency responder for a wide range of assignments.
Phill was deployed four times as part of the historic COVID-19 response. Phill completed a 2.5-week assignment in the City of Denver EOC as an ICS Advisor, Command Advisor, and Deputy Operation Section Chief. He responded to the Washington DC EOC as an ICS Advisor and Deputy Planning Section Chief for a 3-week assignment. Phill spent 2 weeks in the Atlanta City/Fulton County with its Area Command Team as an ICS Advisor and Deputy Operations Section Chief and a 3-week assignment working with the San Luis Obispo Count Type 3 AHIMT as a Command and ICS Advisor.
Phill is currently providing National Incident Management System (NIMS) ICS and Position Specific training for Federal, State, Local Government, Non-Government Organizations, and oil-gas and electric utility companies. Phill has provided training to clients throughout the USA and internationally. Phill is a qualified instructor for the Emergency Management Institute (EMI), National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG), California State Fire Training (SFT), California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI), and the U. S. Coast Guard. Phill is the Operations Section Chief of the team of individuals who wrote the Advanced All-Hazard Incident Management (AAIM) Course and continues to update the course and teach it. Phill has also served as an instructor for the USFA O-305 Type 3 IMT, NWCG S-420 Command and General Staff, and S-620 Area Command courses.
Phill continues to work for CAL FIRE as a Retired Annuitant providing instruction and emergency response. Phill also works as an Independent Contractor providing training, mentoring, and emergency response for Emergency Management Services International (EMSI), Mission Centered Solutions (MCS), and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Phill also remains active in All-Hazard Incident Management responses.
Phill has an Associate of Science Degree in Fire Technology from Allan Hancock College. Phill has completed S-520 Advanced Incident Management Course and S-620 Area Command Course.
JOHN CHAPPELL, Associate Partner
John retired from the La Verne Fire Department in 2010 as a Battalion Chief after 30 years of service. While in the fire service, he was actively involved in training. John is qualified as a Type I Logistics Section Chief and spent 18 years on Federal Type I and II Incident Management Teams.
Since retiring, John has taught Incident Command System courses to many local, state, and federal agencies and several electric utilities, including San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Tacoma Power. He was part of the Covid 19 response supporting a Type 3 All Hazard Incident Management Team.
From 2013 to 2018, John managed the integration of the Incident Command System training for Southern California Edison. He has worked with Western Electric Institute to further the acceptance of ICS within utilities. In his current position with the Cadmus Group as Senior Specialist, he provides subject matter expertise in ICS applications for emergency management within utilities. He also continues to provide input into building HSEEP compliant Exercise Programs, Position Specific Evaluations, and ICS integration within Emergency Management Programs.
DENA M. CHAVEZ, Associate Partner
Dena recently retired as a Fire Captain with San Diego Fire-Rescue (SDFD) after a 31-year career in the fire service. Dena started her career working for the USFS in the Angeles National Forest. She has over 20 years of combined experience in All-Hazard Emergency Incident Management response and training.
Dena is active in All-Hazard Incident Management responses as a Planning Section Chief, Public Information Officer, and Liaison Officer Trainee. Dena has been assigned to Type 2 Incident Management Teams since 1999 and is currently assigned to a Type 1 Team.
Dena's incident response experience includes the Columbia Space Shuttle Recovery, Hurricane Rita, and numerous significant fire incidents throughout the United States.
Dena is currently involved in National Incident Management System (NIMS) ICS and Position Specific training for Federal, State, and Local Government agencies and oil-gas and electric utility companies. Dena is a qualified instructor for the Emergency Management Institute (EMI), California State Fire Training (SFT), and California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI).
Dena holds an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts and an Associate of Science in Fire Science and is working on her Bachelor's Degree in Vocational Education. She also has the following specialty certifications: SD-LECC, Terrorism Liaison Officer; CAL EMA - Terrorism and Homeland Security Specialist; CAL EMA - Enhanced Exercise and Design: Conduct and Evaluation; and FEMA, Implementing Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP), COOP Awareness, COOP Manager.
LINDA C DORN, Associate Partner
Linda recently retired after 18 years as director of business operations for an international computer software company. She oversaw the transition from a brick-and-mortar business selling and shipping software worldwide to a virtual download-based business. Previously, Linda oversaw daily office operations for a retail business operation that included grocery and retail stores. Linda oversees URTAs daily finances and operates a private office management business.
ROBBIN L. EKMAN, Associate Partner
Robbin retired from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service as the Recreation Officer on the Sierra National Forest in 2013. She is currently employed by the City of La Verne Fire Department.
During her 35-year career with the Forest Service, Robbin developed extensive experience managing large, complex fires and All-Hazard incidents, particularly in National incident management and the integration and use of Incident Management Teams. Her Incident Command System experience includes Type 1 and Type 2 assignments in Liaison Officer and Finance Section Chief positions and as an Incident Training Specialist and Resources Unit Leader. Her experience has included large-scale responses such as numerous fires across the western United States, the 2003 Columbia Shuttle Recovery Effort in conjunction with NASA and the EPA, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the "Engine 57 Memorial," the largest attended memorial service in US Forest Service history. Robbin is currently a Liaison Officer on a Federal Type 1 National Incident Management Team.
Robbin also participated as a team member of the National Advanced Resource and Technology Re-engineering Team and the Federal Wildland Fire Training Interagency Task Group. She was designated as a subject matter expert on a National Interagency Group responsible for curriculum revision for the Status/Check-In Recorder and Training Specialist ICS training courses for NWCG. As a course coordinator and instructor, Robbin has provided ICS training and team-building courses for students from electric utility companies, Federal, State, and Local government agencies, and course development and instruction on an international level. As an ICS Advisor for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during their Hurricane Katrina / Rita operations, she was assigned to the Gulf Coast theatre of operations.
Robbin provided Subject Matter Expertise to DHS/USFA during the development of the All-Hazard Resources Unit Leader, Finance Section Chief, and Finance Unit sections of the 2008 DHS All-Hazard Incident Management Team curricula.
Robbin is a California State University, Fresno graduate with post-graduate work in Forestry from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, and Washington State University. She also completed Advanced Incident Management, S-520, at the National Advanced Fire and Resource Institute in Tucson, Arizona.
ROSS W. HOLLOWAY, Associate Partner
Ross has over 40 years of experience in emergency management response and training in Oregon's structural and wildland fire services. Ross spent over 29 years working for the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) in various field and staff positions, retiring as a District Forester. Ross worked part-time for ODF from 2012 to 2019, serving as a member and senior advisor to the agency Executive Team. Ross spent ten years as a volunteer firefighter, EMT, chief officer, and Board member with Oceanside Rural Fire Protection District in Tillamook County.
Over 34 years, Ross served on ODF Incident Management Teams and interagency Type 2 and Type 1 teams as Resources Unit Leader, Situation Unit Leader, Planning Section Chief, Incident Commander, Agency Representative, and Agency Administrator. He continues to play an active role with incident management teams in the Pacific Northwest. He served as a Planning Section Chief, Unified Incident Commander, and Agency Administrator on multiple incidents from 2013 to 2020 and as ODF representative to the Northwest Regional Multiagency Coordination Group.
Ross has been involved in incident management training since 1990, participating in training cadres, developing, coordinating, and instructing a diverse selection of courses, including Resources Unit Leader, Situation Unit Leader, Planning Section Chief, Operations Section Chief, ICS-300 and 400, Incident Commander, Safety Officer, Liaison Officer, Logistics Section Chief, and Type 3 and Type 2 Command and General Staff courses. He has participated in training cadres for local geographic training committees, the Northwest Interagency Regional Training Center, and the National Interagency Fire Center.
Since retiring, Ross has continued to work in the emergency management community, providing incident management training services to various federal, state, and local government clients and private industry. Ross served as an ICS Technical Specialist and Advisor to BP, USCG, and local Parishes for the Deepwater Horizon Incident in Louisiana.
Ross currently serves as a contract ICS instructor for Clackamas Community College in Oregon. He instructs NIMS ICS and position-specific courses for students from various organizations, including local public utilities, cities, counties, and state agencies. As a Managing Partner with URTA, Ross serves on training cadres for several large utilities, including PG&E, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas, and Electric, and Alameda Water District.
Ross is a 1978 graduate of Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science in Forest Management. He is also an alumnus of the Executive Leadership Program at Portland State University, the Pacific Program at the University of Oregon, and the National Association of State Foresters Complex Incident Management Course.
SCOTT HOLMQUIST, Associate Partner
Scott retired from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) as the Assistant Deputy Director of Fire Protection Operations, with over 40 years of experience in All-Hazard Emergency Incident Management response and training. Scott was certified as a Type 1 Incident Commander for CAL FIRE's Incident Management Teams.
Scott founded Pursue It Consulting, providing incident management training and designing fire apparatus for various public and private sector clients across the United States and internationally. This has included providing fire prevention and mitigation services to several utility service providers, contractors, and commercial and residential clients.
Scott worked four years for Pacific Gas & Electric Company as a Public Safety Specialist, which included serving as an Agency Representative/Company Representative on several All Hazard incidents. He planned events, developed and was involved in workshops/seminars, tabletop and full-scale functional exercises, and served as a Subject Matter Expert in developing incident management courses.
Scott is a FEMA Certified Instructor for a number of All-Hazards Position Specific Courses and State Certified Instructor for the ICS 100-400 courses. He has presented courses in multiple states.
Scott is a certified instructor for Emergency Operations Center training courses and FEMA All Hazards Position-Specific courses, including Incident Commander, Liaison Officer, and Operations Section Chief.
Scott has been an Associate Partner with URTA since January 2020.
MIKE LAPLANT, Associate Partner
Mike began his fire service career in the United States Air Force, and after eight years of active-duty service, he joined Ventura County (Ca.) Fire Department. He retired after 32 years as the Department’s Deputy Chief. During that time, he was a member of the FIRESCOPE Task Force for almost 12 years, serving as Chair for two years.
Mike continues to serve on interagency Incident Management Teams as a Planning Section Chief, Operations Section Chief, and Operations Branch Director. Most recently, he served in incident management positions for several Public Health Departments and Emergency Management agencies responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. He has served as an instructor for training courses throughout the United States for “all-risk” emergencies and serves as a consultant to agencies facing serious, widespread threats and emergencies.
Joe Reyes, Associate Partner
Joe began his career in emergency services as a member of the Twain Harte Volunteer Fire Department and Tuolumne County Search and Rescue Team. While working through college, Joe worked for All City Ambulance in Stockton, California. Joe spent a 37-year career with the US Forest Service, working on five different national forests and in the Region 5 office in California. He worked his way through Fire Management, promoting to Engineer, Captain, Battalion Chief, Division Chief, Forest Training Officer, Regional Training Coordinator, and Assistant Chief. He retired as a Forest Fire Chief in the Sierra National Forest.
Joe served on a number of Federal Incident Management Teams (IMT), both Type I and Type 2, and held positions of Division Supervisor, Operations Section Chief, Liaison Officer, and Incident Commander.
Joe has been an instructor for numerous National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG), Incident Command System (ICS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Leadership courses throughout the United States.
Joe earned an Associate of Arts – Fire Science at San Joaquin Delta College, a Bachelor of Arts - Social Science, and a California Single Subject Teaching Credential through Humboldt State University. He is certified as a Fire Instructor III (Master Instructor) through the California State Fire Marshal. He holds a Certificate for Wildland Urban Interface/Intermix at California Polytechnic State University and a Certificate in Fire Program Management from Humboldt State University.
Since retirement Joe has continued to teach Emergency Services, Fire Science, Incident Command System, and Leadership courses for the Valley Regional Occupation Program/Reedley College, US Forest Service, Utility Response Training Associates (URTA), and US International program throughout the world.
DANA ROBERT SIMPSON, Associate Partner
Dana retired as a Station Captain after over 30 years with the Kern County (California) Fire Department. His emergency response experience included structural and wildland fires, aircraft incidents, hazardous materials and refinery incidents, train derailments, and medical incidents in the department's busiest stations.
As a member of local and National Incident Management Teams since 1994, Dana served as a Logistics Section Chief, Liaison Officer, and Human Resource Specialist. He has been involved in over fifty IMT responses, including wildland fires, hurricanes, Exotic Newcastle Disease breakouts, and major flood events. He was part of the Covid 19 response supporting ICS integration for a county Covid 19 response.
Dana has over 15 years of experience as an ICS instructor, evaluator, and coach. As a mentor/coach/evaluator, he has been involved with numerous full-scale, functional, and tabletop exercises and completed his DHS Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation (HSEEP) qualification. Serving both private industry and government at various levels, Dana’s clients have included the US EPA, USCG, States of Indiana, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, California; the city of Los Angeles; Southern California Edison; Pacific Gas and Electric; San Diego Gas and Electric; and an oil pipeline consortium.
Dana has also served as an instructor for several educational institutions, including Purdue University, University of Missouri, Texas A&M, and California State College System, teaching All-Hazards IMT, Logistics Section Chief, Supply Unit Leader, and Facilities Unit Leader courses.
Dana served on a lengthy deployment to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria as an ICS Logistics Advisor to assist with power restoration.
Dana holds an Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts from Bakersfield College, a Fire Science Certificate from Bakersfield College, and is a graduate of Advanced Incident Command from the National Advanced Resource Training Center. He is a certified Type 1 Logistics Section Chief, Facilities Unit Leader, Ground Support Unit Leader, Food Unit Leader, Medical Unit Leader, Supply Unit Leader, Liaison Officer, and Human Resource Specialist. He also holds certifications as a Hazardous Materials Specialist, Arson Investigator, and Technical Rescue Systems, USAR Logistics Specialist.
MICHAEL VELASQUEZ, Associate Partner
Michael has over 40 years of experience in the California fire service and Utility industry, including extensive experience in all-hazard fire service operations, air operations, administration, training, fire prevention, law enforcement and investigation, EMS, major incident management, and utility emergency management.
Michael retired from the fire service in 2008 after serving in several leadership positions, including Deputy Fire Chief for Operations for North County Fire Authority and San Mateo City Fire Chief. He retired from Cal Fire at the rank of Assistant Chief after a 30-year career. Following retirement from the fire service, Michael served as a Senior Public Safety Specialist and Manager for Partnership and Outreach for Pacific Gas and Electric from 2011 to 2017. After the San Bruno gas explosion, Michael was one of the first Senior Public Safety Specialists hired by PG&E to provide agency representation at utility emergency incidents and present first responder utility safety training to public safety agency personnel.
Michael has served as a Safety Officer and Liaison Officer on a Cal Fire Type 1 IMT and a DHS- USCG IMT.
Michael is a recipient of the Governor's California Medal of Valor and served as a Senate-appointed California EMS Commissioner. He has also served as a Fire Service Advisor to the California Governor's AIDS Leadership Committee and the national public safety curriculum on infectious diseases.