|Published by Emergency Medical Services Authority – Disaster Medical Services Autumn, 2011
EMSA’s Unique Public-Private Partnership Sustains the State’s Mobile Field Hospital Program
With the elimination of $1.7 million in funding, EMSA worked hard to identify alternative solutions to sustain the MFH Program. We explored alternatives with public partners at the local, state, and federal level as well as with private entities to sustain this program. Learn more about this important issue in the article inside.
You are Invited
As we develop and utilize this newsletter, we encourage each of you to communicate your suggestions and ideas to increase the effectiveness of this communications tool. Please send your ideas for news items to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa Schoenthal, Chief
Disaster Medical Services
Message from Lisa Schoenthal
Chief of Disaster Medical Services
The Disaster Healthcare Volunteers Program is pleased to introduce this new quarterly newsletter that will help us keep in closer communication with our many friends and partners throughout the state. We have now registered more than 16,000 volunteer healthcare professionals on our DHV system and this includes members of our 41 Medical Reserve Corps units in California.
These volunteers provide California’s disaster public health and medical leaders a critical surge capacity that will help us support and augment local disaster response activities. EMSA is committed to keeping you informed of our plans, strategies and activities as we continue to work with our local partners to build a strong disaster medical response capability that will be critical to mounting successful response and recovery efforts for future disasters.
Budgetary issues continue to impact critical decision making at the state and local levels. But we all share a clear understanding that when disasters strike we must be prepared to meet the healthcare and medical needs of the impacted populations. Our continuing efforts to plan and work together to be as prepared as possible, will result in increasing our capacity to respond even in the midst of budgetary challenges. We praise your local efforts and we remain firmly committed to working in close partnership with our many partners and stakeholders throughout the state.
Dr. Howard Backer Named as
Howard Baker, MD, MPH, FACEP
Howard Backer, MD, MPH, FACEP has been selected to serve as the Director of the California Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA). Ms. Diana Dooley, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services (CHHS) Agency, announced Dr. Backer’s appointment on July 25th in Sacramento.
As Director, Dr. Backer will lead EMSA in establishing and enforcing standards for EMS personnel, coordinating with local EMS systems, overseeing the development of statewide specialty care systems, and preparing for and responding to disasters.
Dr. Backer most recently served as the interim Director of the California Department of Public Health. From 2008 to 2011, Backer served as Associate Secretary for Emergency Preparedness at the California Health and Human Services Agency. From 2000 to 2008, Dr. Backer served in a variety of roles at the California Department of Health Services including Chief of the Immunization Branch. Prior to government service, Dr. Backer practiced emergency medicine for 25 years. He received a Doctor of Medicine from the University of California at San Francisco, a Master of Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley, a Bachelor of Sciences from the University of Michigan and is board certified in Emergency Medicine, Preventive Medicine and Public Health. Under statute, the Director of the Emergency Medical Services Authority is required to be a physician with experience in emergency medicine.
Upgrades in the DHV System
Collaborative Fusion, Inc., presented two statewide Webinars in August to introduce the latest upgrades in the DHV system, especially the Mission Manager Module. The Webinar has been recorded and is available to anyone via the internet. Additionally, EMSA staff will be presenting Webinars this fall to address the newer elements of the DHV system. RPU staff is also scheduling User Group meetings to enable System Administrators and MRC Coordinators to participate in telephone conferences to discuss your issues and concerns and to learn from one another. You can learn more about the new information in several ways.
A recorded webinar will walk you through the new features step by step. To access the webinar, go to the following URL link.Collaborative Fusion Webex When prompted at the site, enter the password: dhv2011
- After registering with your name, email address and phone number the webinar will begin.
- The DHV “Help” button which will take you to Operation Manuals and “Quick Reference Guides”. You can access these while online and/or you can download then print the materials so they are available at your work station. These are excellent materials.
- RPU staff will be available by email or phone to address your questions.
- Additional group training will be arranged as needed, including User Group teleconferences.
EMSA’s Unique Public-Private Partnership Sustains the State’s Mobile Field Hospital Program
The Governor’s proposed 2011/2012 Budget included elimination of $1.7 million in funding that sustains the State’s Mobile Field Hospitals (MFH) in response ready condition. This included vendor management of the supplies and Bio-Medical equipment as well as the rent for the three warehouses where the MFHs are strategically stored. The MFH Program was established in 2006 with the majority of funds, $18.3 million, provided by the State General Fund. The three (3) hospitals, of 200-beds each, have been strategically located to allow for transportation, set-up and patient treatment processing within 72 hours or less anywhere in the State (ED, ICU and OR ready in about 48 hours) after the order to deploy.
With the elimination of $1.7 million in funding, EMSA worked hard to identify alternative solutions to sustain the MFH Program. We explored alternatives with public partners at the local, state and federal level as well as with private entities to sustain this program.
We are pleased to announce EMSA has accomplished it’s mission to sustain the MFH Program through at least June 30, 2012. EMSA has executed a contract with our MFH vendor, BLU MED Response Systems, who will continue to maintain all three hospitals in response-ready condition at no cost to the State. In this agreement, BLU MED will have the ability to deploy two of the three MFHs outside of California and receive compensation for this from the requesting entity. California will have at least one MFH ready to deploy within the State at all times at no cost. EMSA considers this to be a win-win creative solution for the people of California during the current fiscal crisis.
The Mobile Field Hospitals serve as full General Acute Care Hospitals. They can be transported by ground, sea or air. Each of the three Mobile Field Hospitals contains:
· Intensive Care Unit beds
· Point of Care lab testing
· Operating Room stations
· Digital X-ray
· Emergency Department beds
· Flexible medical-surgical ward beds
· 130 ventilators
· Reverse Isolation beds
· Cascade oxygen system with concentrators to re-supply
the oxygen system
Personnel can be utilized from specialized California Medical Assistance Teams (CAL-MATs) and Hospital Administrative Support Units (HASUs).
EMSA acknowledges and thanks SCRIPPS Health for their assistance in evaluating alternatives for sustaining the MFH Program. SCRIPPS Health sponsors the premier specialized CAL-MAT and HASU and is recognized as a leader among health systems in disaster medical response.
EMSA also acknowledges and thanks our partners at the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) who are providing EMSA’s rent for the hard leases for MFH warehouse space through an Inter-Agency Agreement. The warehouse funds which were originally appropriated for CDPH warehouse costs were reappropriated during the last fiscal year in order to fund hard lease costs for both CDPH and EMSA.
Disaster Medical Services Division Chief, Lisa Schoenthal, extends special thanks to Response Resources Unit Manager, Bill Hartley, and Health Program Specialist, Jim Hamilton, for their diligence throughout the mission of sustaining the MFH Program. A warm thank you is also extended to each staff member of the Disaster Medical Services Division who helped fill in the gaps while efforts were directed to this effort.
The MFHs have been deployed twice for exercises and have been placed on alert four times for potential deployments in California in response to wildfires and H1N1. They have not been deployed for a real world medical mission as California has not had a catastrophic disaster that exceeded hospital bed capacity in the past four years.
EMSA Headquarters Moved in April
As a necessary cost-savings action, EMSA has moved its main office functions to a new location in the “suburbs” of Sacramento in April. The new address is 10901 Gold Center Drive, Suite 400, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670. In addition to long term facility savings, EMSA has been able to locate all of its headquarters functions at one location. The facility also includes sufficient meeting space that will allow the agency to have many of its meetings and functions at the new location
Since originally locating in the old building on 9th and T Streets in Sacramento in 1991, the department has been charged with additional responsibilities and the staff has grown proportionately. EMSA now has 69 staff members and another half-dozen or so students and retired annuitants
“We were bursting at the seams,” said Daniel R. Smiley, Chief Deputy Director of EMSA who has been with the department since those early days.”For the past several years we’ve had people sharing desks, working at our response station and working in conference rooms while we planned the move. It was just not sustainable. In addition, the lease has ended on the downtown building and that building is being put up for sale.”
The new location has enough conference space to host large stakeholder meetings at the office. “We expect that eliminating the cost and hassle of parking downtown will offset the distance for those who come to meet with us,” said Smiley. Additionally, EMSA now has teleconferencing capability so staff can attend meetings remotely.
Benefits of the new office include a reduced cost per square foot, easy freeway access, proximity to Light Rail service, upgraded information technology infrastructure, and free and ample parking for employees and visitors. Additionally, the new building meets state requirements for energy savings and disabled access, which the old building did not.
EMSA is in good company at our new location – many state departments are already located along what is known as the Highway 50 Corridor. They include the California Emergency Management Agency, the California Army National Guard, the Department of Child Support Services, the Franchise Tax Board, the Contractors State Licensing Board, the Bureau of Automotive Repair and the Department of Technology Services.
The Response Personnel Unit was the first EMSA group to use the new conference room facility for a major meeting. Sixty-five of our state, regional and local medical/healthcare emergency management partners met in April to review the new DHV Deployment Operations Manual. The results from that meeting are enabling EMSA to make significant helpful changes in the Deployment Operations Manual. The participant evaluations were uniformly positive with regard to the facility and the
meeting contents. We look forward to more opportunities to enable our local partners to meet with us at our new facilities. See DHV DOM Workshop article for more information about this meeting, “Disaster Medical Services Hosts Statewide Workshop in the New EMSA Facility.”
Calendar of Events and Coming Activities
– Autumn Charge – A DHV Exercise
– Quarterly DHV Exercises
– November Medical/Health Exercise
EMSA is hosting a series of User Group Calls to address the needs of the DHV System Administrators. The calls must be limited to System Administrators and Medical Reserve Corps Coordinators.
Response Personnel Unit staff is committed to helping you make a smooth transition to the new modifications and enhancements in the DHV System. We are confident you will find that these new upgrades make a great system even better.
Our first User Group meeting was held on September 6th and we had 64 participants. The agenda included a brief update on Autumn Charge and an overview of the recent changes in the DHV System, particularly the Mission Manager and Messaging modules. The Medical Reserve Corps Coordinators also held a meeting in conjunction with the User Group Meeting.
This User Group meeting was the first use of our internal Webinar capacity and served as a positive example of how we can use Webinar technology to increase our connectivity during periods of reduced travel resulting from budget restrictions.
Mark your calendar now to participate in the quarterly User Group Calls
o Tuesday, December 13th at 10:00 am
o Tuesday, March 13th at 10:00 am
o Tuesday, June 12th at 10:00 am
|Quarterly DHV Exercises
The Response Personnel Unit continues to lead Quarterly Exercises of the Disaster Healthcare Volunteers System (DHV) as part of its compliance responsibilities for the national ESAR-VHP program. Many of you have participated in these exercises and we encourage more of you to begin participating in future months. These exercises will be timed to culminate in the Autumn Charge Exercise each September, as we have done this year.
|November Statewide Medical/Health Exercise
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) are pleased to present the 2011 Statewide Medical and Health Training and Exercise with the scenario of a disruption in the public water supply.
The purpose of this exercise is to provide participants with an opportunity to evaluate current response concepts, plans, and capabilities in response to a simulated disruption in the public water system. The exercise will focus on the response capabilities to communicate effectively, share information and disseminate intelligence, review risk communication messaging and respond to a medical surge caused by a disruption in the public water system.
You can find information about the Exercise at California Medical Health Exercise
This year’s exercise will focus on the Homeland Security Target Capabilities of Communications, Information/Intelligence Sharing and Dissemination, Medical Surge and Emergency Operations Center Management.
A workgroup comprised of representatives from CDPH, EMSA, the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA), California Hospital Association (CHA), California Primary Care Association (CPCA), California Association of Health Facilities (CAHF), representatives from Local Health Departments (LHD), Local Emergency Medical Services Agencies (LEMSA), and Regional Disaster Medical Health Coordinators/Specialists (RDMHC/S) has developed a four phased Statewide Medical and Health Training and Exercise program. Exercise tools for each phase have been developed to guide local exercise planners through the process of developing, planning and conducting the exercise program for their organization/jurisdiction.
Disaster Medical Services Hosts Statewide Workshop in the
Sixty-four medical/healthcare leaders from across the state met in the conference rooms of our EMSA Headquarters facility on April 20-21, 2011. The participants worked to review and revise the recently drafted Disaster Healthcare Volunteers Deployment Operations Manual (DOM). The DOM serves as a guide for deploying volunteer healthcare professionals when major disaster incidents create critical medical/healthcare personnel resource needs.
Lisa Schoenthal, Chief,
Disaster Medical Services, opened the workshop and said, “we are approaching this iss
ue in a two-pronged fashion. While it continues to be important to increase the number of Volunteer Healthcare Professionals (VHP) registered on the state DHV system, it is also critical that we create the plans and policies needed to actually deploy these healthcare volunteers in periods of major disaster.” She reminded the assembled group, “we can have thousands of VHPs on our system, but they are of little value if we cannot efficiently and effectively deploy them to sites where t
heir services are needed during actual emergencies.” The volunteer deployment procedures revised at the meeting have moved our system a long way forward in our goals of having both the needed personnel resources and a method for deploying them during emergencies.
Workshop leaders reported they were especially pleased with the excellent participation and input received from all of the participants. Patrick Lynch, Response Personnel Manager, said, “We packed a lot of information in a short period of time, but we also think it was an enjoyable and effective process.” Participant feedback from evaluation sheets and from individual comments were excellent.
We are pleased to report that we have already evaluated all of our feedback from the workshop participants and from other individuals who have reviewed the document in detail. The next iteration of the DOM has now been drafted and is being reviewed. We expect we will be able to get results back to our partners in the field in fall of this year
We are pleased to report that we have been notified that our deployment project has been funded for year two at $200,000 by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. This award enables EMSA to move forward in our efforts to complete and distribute new iterations of the DHV Deployment Manual in partnership with the California Department of Public Health.
Workshop Speakers and Presenters:
Lisa Schoenthal Dan Smiley
Patrick Lynch John Lord
Bryan Hanley Adam Sutkus
Jodie Monaghan Michael Ciraolo
Brian Bolton Chris Burghardt
Sheila Martin Sandra Shields
EMS Authority Golden Guardian 2011 Exercise
The 2011 Golden Guardian (GG) Exercise enabled EMSA to evaluate elements of our response capabilities to catastrophic Inland Region flood scenarios. On May 17th, 18th and 19th EMSA exercised its activation of the Department Operations Center (DOC) at Response Station One and deployed the EMSA Communications Vehicle to Sutter County for a Field Communications Event.
EMSA, the Sutter County Public Health Department, and the Yuba Sutter Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) group worked together and developed a Field Communications Event as part of the exercise play with assistance from Sierra Sacramento Valley (SSV) EMS Agency. EMSA deployed our communications vehicle and Communications Specialists to Sutter County as a back-up dispatch resource in response to a resource request and mission tasking. The Response Personnel Unit utilized the DHV System to initiate a test of requests for availability and assignment of Disaster Healthcare Volunteers to support healthcare services in a medical needs shelter. During exercise play, a simulated failure of Sutter County’s primary dispatch operations led to tests utilizing EMSA’s Communications Vehicle as the back-up Dispatch Center for Sutter County. This included communications with participating hospitals throughout Sutter, Yolo and Placer Counties as well as Law Enforcement dispatch centers. The communications vehicle also tested radio communications back to the EMSA DOC as well as Amateur Radio contacts with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in Richmond. SSV EMS Agency also hosted “EMS Appreciation Day” adjacent to the field event.
For additional Emergency Operations Center (EOC) activity, EMSA staffed Medical/Health positions at the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) State Operations Center (SOC), the Inland Regional Operations Center (REOC) and the CDPH EOC in Richmond, California.
This was the first time DOC operations were carried out at Response Station One and based on the exercise “hot wash” following the three day exercise, all DOC activities went extremely well. EMSA has completed the After Action Report and the Improvement Plan for this exercise.
The annual Golden Guardian exercise provides EMSA the opportunity to evaluate plans, policies, procedures and field assets used to respond to disasters. The implementation of the corrective actions that have been identified in the GG 2011 exercise will improve the Authority’s response in the future. A warm thank you and congratulations goes out to all exercise participants as we begin planning for the GG 2012 exercise.
EMSA Staff Participates in Preparedness Training for
“Weapons of Mass Destruction”
None of us want to believe that our community could ever be impacted by a terrorist attack using a weapon of mass destruction. Indeed, it is difficult to fathom the possibility, or to realize what effects such an incident could have on our families, friends and fellow citizens. The stark reality of the events occurring throughout our world compel us, as part of the medical/healthcare system, to take the threat seriously and to make training in “chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive event (CBRNE)” response a part of our regular training.
Staff from EMSA’s Disaster Medical Services Division recently completed specialized training designed for emergency personnel and first responders. The class, developed under the direction of the California Emergency Medical Services Authority, improves awareness, notification, coordination, response and recovery from a CBRNE event. Senate Bill 1350, passed in 2002, directed California EMS providers to undergo “terrorism awareness” training that exceeds that of the federal Office of Domestic Preparedness Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Response Training Guidelines.
This enhanced medical curriculum “Med-Plus,” focuses on the specific signs and symptoms of various CBRNE agents. Instructors were Markell Pierce and Ken Martzen, of the Response Resources Unit of the Disaster Medical Services Division at EMSA. Pierce and Martzen will be presenting this course in counties throughout the state in the coming months. You will hear more about CBRNE training as the classes are scheduled in the coming months.
What are ESAR-VHP and DHV?
The Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP) is a federal program created to support states and territories in establishing standardized volunteer registration programs for disasters and public health and medical emergencies.
Disaster Healthcare Volunteers (DHV), California’s ESAR-VHP program administered at the state level, verifies health professionals’ identification and credentials so that they can respond more quickly when disaster strikes. By registering through ESAR-VHP, volunteers’ identities, licenses, credentials and accreditations are verified in advance, saving valuable time in emergency situations.
Why do we need ESAR-VHP?
In the wake of disasters and public health and medical emergencies, many of our nation’s health professionals are eager and willing to volunteer their services. And in these times of crisis; hospitals, clinics, and temporary shelters are dependent upon the services of health professional volunteers. However, on such short notice, taking advantage of volunteers’ time and capabilities presents a major challenge to hospital, public health, and emergency response officials.
For example, immediately after the attacks on September 11, 2001, tens of thousands of people traveled to ground zero in New York City to volunteer and provide medical assistance. In most cases, authorities were unable to distinguish those who were qualified from those who were not – no matter how well intentioned.
There are significant problems associated with registering and verifying the credentials of health professional volunteers immediately following major disasters or emergencies. Specifically, hospitals and other facilities may be unable to verify basic licensing or credentialing information, including training, skills, competencies, and employment. Further, the loss of telecommunications may prevent contact with sources that provide credential or privilege information.
The goal of the ESAR-VHP program is to eliminate a number of the problems that arise when mobilizing health professional volunteers in an emergency response.
Disaster Healthcare Volunteers (DHV)
In accordance with federal mandate, California has developed the Disaster Healthcare Volunteers (DHV) System to facilitate and manage the registration, credentialing, and deployment of volunteer healthcare professionals (VHPs) in California. DHV uses a software system for the management of volunteers, including the registration, notification, communication, and credentialing needs associated with volunteer management. DHV system is the single source system operated and administered by local, regional and state, public health, mental health and other emergency and disaster organizations.
DHV is administered by all system stakeholders and maintained by California Emergency Medical Services Authority in a partnership with the California Department of Public Health. DHV volunteers include healthcare professionals, (medical, public health, mental health, EMS, and other personnel) who are willing to be called upon in the event of an emergency or disaster. DHV volunteers are pre-registered and pre-credentialed. Deployment of volunteers will follow standard Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) procedures.
To register on the DHV System or to get more information, visit our website, Disaster Healthcare Volunteers.
Introducing the Response Personnel Unit Staff (RPU)
In this section of our newsletter we will introduce you to two of our staff in the Response Personnel Unit each quarter. While many of you may already know one or more of our staff, we want you to know us a little better so you can be more aware of the people attached to the emails and phone calls you receive from the Response Personnel Unit.
The Response Personnel Unit is part of the Disaster Medical Services Division of the California Emergency Medical Services Authority. Our unit is responsible for administering the statewide Disaster Healthcare Volunteers System (DHV) and supporting the one-hundred and ninety-two DHV System Administrators and forty-two (42) Medical Reserve Corps Members around our state. This organization chart lists our RPU staff and their assignments. The Unit Manager, Patrick Lynch, reports to Lisa Schoenthal, Chief of the Disaster Medical Services Division of EMSA.
In this first Newsletter we are “Introducing” two of our RPU staff. The others will all be introduced in future issues of this newsletter. In this issue we are introducing Sheila Martin, our longest-serving staff member, and Brian Bolton, one of our newest staff members.
Sheila Martin, EMT-I
California Statewide MRC Coordinator
Disaster Healthcare Volunteers Coordinator
Sheila Martin has been with the State of California for 25 years. She has worked in six different departments; however, when she arrived at the EMS Authority she fell in love with emergency response. She has worked at the EMS Authority for 14 years, 6 of those years in the Disaster Medical Services Division.
Ms. Martin is the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Statewide Coordinator. This position works with the 41 Medical Reserve Corps Coordinators in the state to provide resources for the management of their team members through the use of the Disaster Healthcare Volunteers (DHV) System (California’s ESAR-VHP program). She works with stakeholders to coordinate infrastructure for the intrastate use of MRC units during disasters, training opportunities and standardization of mission responses. She also works with the Office of Civilian Volunteers Medical Reserve Corps (OCVMRC) national office to encourage local MRC Units to address the core competencies and the objectives set by the Office of the Surgeon General for MRC activities with their local public health departments.
Sheila has also worked the last 6 years in the Disaster Healthcare Volunteers (DHV) Program. She has worked to procure and sustain the current DHV System. She is one of a team of staff who is actively involved in teaching the system to county Medical Health Operational Area Coordinators (MHOACs), their designees and to the MRC Coordinators throughout the state. She is involved in DHV recruitment activities throughout the state and is working with staff and stakeholders on establishing deployment procedures and recommending training for DHV volunteers. She also has experience in grant writing and reporting.
When disasters strike in California, the DMS staff is utilized for the Medical/Health positions at the Regional Emergency Operations Center (REOC), Joint Emergency Operations Center (JEOC) and the State Emergency Operations Center (SOC) both during proclaimed disasters and during Golden Guardian Exercises. She has staffed all three of these emergency operations centers during the Southern California Fires of 2007 and the Northern California Fires of 2008.
In January, 2001, she helped to start up the Sacramento Regional Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) CA-11 and has functioned as the Administrative Officer for over 10 years. This position has given her experience in volunteer management. She has participated in deployments of CA-11 to Hurricane Ivan, Katrina, Rita, Ike and the Haiti earthquake. In her spare time, she enjoys golfing, volunteers with the Blue Star Moms and is close to her grandchildren.
You can contact Sheila by email by clicking on this link – Sheila Martin
Health Program Specialist I
Brian has recently celebrated his one-year anniversary as an employee of the State of California. He brings with him an extensive background as an executive in the nonprofit sector and a leader in the volunteer movement in California and at the national level. During 18 years as a CEO with American Red Cross Chapters in Ohio and California, Mr. Bolton served in leadership roles in numerous disaster operations including floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, civil disorder, train derailment, landslide and the Northridge Earthquake. While Executive Director of the State Association of Volunteer Centers in California, Mr. Bolton led a process to develop disaster response plans in which Volunteer Centers can manage spontaneous, unaffiliated volunteers in time of disaster. Brian was Chairman of the National Disaster Task Force for the HandsOn Network and Chaired the National Network of State Associations.
In addition to his extensive experience in nonprofit leadership, Brian also has experience in state government management and served as Vice President of Marketing and Advertising for a food company in Ohio.
Brian said, “I have seen the incredible service that volunteers willingly give to their community, especially in times of disaster. California has called on its amazing volunteer spirit in past disasters and I know that when disaster strikes in the future, our medical healthcare volunteers will be an amazing resource to our local emergency management teams.”
In his home life, Brian is a proud grandfather to five and loves to play golf. He is also a professional artist specializing in watercolors and acrylic landscapes and portraits. He tells us his latest project is painting a mural for the reading area at Mission Elementary School in Carmichael where two of his grandchildren are enrolled.
You can contact Brian by email by clicking on this link – Brian Bolton
Wildfire Preparedness and Awareness Tips
CalEMA Website and Links Offer Widfire Preparedness Tips
The CalEMA website gives perspective to the wildfire risks in California: “Over the past 57 years, wildfires have claimed 97 lives and resulted in 1,504 injuries and $2.1 billion in California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA) administered disaster costs.
“Approximately 37 million acres within California are at risk from wildfire, with 17 million acres at high risk. A total of 7.8 million acres of California are developed with housing unit densities considered to meet the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) criteria and a total of 11.8 million homes are located in the WUI.” Depending upon terrain and vegetation, wildfire hazard risk exposure is generally pervasive, with high concentrations in southern California. Since 1950, 56 percent of Presidential declared disasters in California were the result of wildfires.
Learn what you can do to prepare and protect yourself –
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE) – “Ready for Wildfire”
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE) –“Current Incidents”
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – “Wildfire Information”
United States Fire Administration (USFA) – “Citizen Preparedness Tips”
“Defensible Space: You Can Do It”
(from the Firesafe Council)
Remove all flammable vegetation around all structures. State law requires a minimum of 100 feet of clearance, but check with your insurance agent to see if your carrier requires more. For more information about state law, contact your local fire department.
- Trim trees so branches are six feet from the ground and 10 feet from your chimney. Remove branches overhanging your roof.
- Call your utility company for help with trees near power lines. Never trim these yourself.
- Remove any dead trees.
- Cut weeds and dead grasses six inches or shorter.
- Always work early in the morning and make sure your power tools have spark arresters to prevent equipment-caused fires.
- Ask your local nursery about landscaping with beautiful, fire-resistant plants.
- Maintain defensible space by cleaning up plant litter and watering properly.
Wild Fire Safety Checklist (American Red Cross)
More and more people are making their homes in woodland settings, rural areas or remote mountain sites. There, residents enjoy the beauty of the environment but face the very real danger of wild fires. Wild fires often begin unnoticed. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees and homes. In a wild fire, every second counts!
American Red Cross (ARC)- “Wildfire Safety Checklist”
Supplies to take with you if you need to evacuate:
Water-one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply)
- Food-non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply)
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
- Multi-purpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Cell phone with chargers
- Family and emergency contact information
- Extra cash
- Emergency blanket
- Map(s)of the area
- Other essential items that could not be replaced if they were destroyed