UCI Representation at 2015 IAEM Conference

UCC Group Shot 2015

The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the profession of emergency management by networking with its membership to promote the goals of saving lives and protecting property during emergencies and disasters.  IAEM currently has over 5,000 members in more than 58 countries and is structured in seven Councils around the world including Asia, Canada, Europa, International, Oceania, Student and US.

Each year, hundreds of Emergency Managers across the country, representing every sector imaginable, gather for the annual IAEM Conference (US) to network, share best practices and collaboratively work towards building a more resilient nation.  Last week, two staff members from the UCI Police Department, Emergency Services Unit, attended the 2015 conference held in Clark County, NV.  Anne Widney, Emergency Services Manager and Bobby Simmons, Business Continuity Planner represented UCI at both the main conference as well as the Universities & Colleges Caucus (UCC); a higher education-specific emergency management group.

In addition to taking advantage of the professional development opportunities over this five-day event, this year’s conference was particularly special as both of the aforementioned staff were presented with their Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) designation at the awards banquet and concluding ceremonies Wednesday night.  The CEM is the highest designation of its kind in the field of emergency management and involves a rigorous application process requiring candidates to submit proof of years of related experience, professional contributions to the field, 200 hours of training, participation in various types of exercises, a passing score on a the CEM exam and an acceptable written essay outlining the candidate’s knowledge and skills pertaining to emergency management.  The awarded designations to UCI staff are sure to help further develop and promote the emergency management initiatives taking place on campus.

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Get Ready; Stay Ready Campaign 2015

November – Home Hazard Hunt


The “Get Ready; Stay Ready” campaign focus for the month of November is on conducting a home hazard hunt. There are a number of very simple and inexpensive tasks we can complete that can greatly decrease the likelihood of home emergencies and mitigate our risk of injuries resulting from natural hazards. For example, the greatest risks that earthquakes pose to us Californians are not structural in nature but rather the loose; unsecured objects within the home falling at us or on us. This is great news because the majority of us can afford a few dollars for T.V. straps, cupboard locks, museum putty and other earthquake securing products. However, paying a contractor to come out and bid on a seismic retrofitting of your home is rarely something most of us can absorb in our budget. The barriers that most people face are not financially-related at all but rather a lack of education and initiative.

Spend some time with your household members identifying hazards in and outside of your home. Keeping your house safe helps keep you and your loved ones safe. Minimize the impact of an emergency or disaster by safeguarding your home. Anything that can move, fall, break or cause a fire is a potential hazard. If you have young children, be creative and make it fun! Below is a checklist to get you started:

  • Check batteries in smoke alarms every six months and make sure they are on each level of your home and outside every bedroom.
  • Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections.
  • Fasten shelves securely.
  • Place heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Hang pictures and mirrors away from beds.
  • Brace overhead light fixtures.
  • Strap water heater to wall studs.
  • Place oily polishing rags or waste in covered metal cans.
  • Store weed killers, pesticides and flammable products away from heat sources.
  • Clean and repair chimneys, flue pipes, vent connectors and gas vents.
  • Unless local officials advise otherwise, or there is immediate threat to life or safety, leave natural gas on because you will need it for heating and cooking when you return home. If you turn your gas off, a licensed professional is required to turn it back on, and it may take weeks for a professional to respond.
  • If high winds are expected, cover the outside of all windows of your home. Use shutters that are rated to provide significant protection from windblown debris or fit plywood coverings over all windows. Damage happens when wind gets inside a home through a broken window, door or damaged roof. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking and is not recommended.
  • If flooding is expected, consider using sand bags to keep water away from your home. It takes two people about one hour to fill and place 100 sandbags, giving you a wall one foot high and 20 feet long. Make sure you have enough sand, burlap or plastic bags, shovels, strong helpers and time to place them properly.

Visit the following websites for more information about securing your home and products that can help you do so: www.earthquakecountry.org and www.quakehold.com


Critical Infrastructure Security & Resilience Month


Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, observed in the month of November, builds awareness and appreciation of the importance of critical infrastructure and reaffirms the nationwide commitment to keep our critical infrastructure and our communities safe and secure. Securing the nation’s infrastructure, which includes both the physical facilities that supply our communities with goods and services, like water, transportation, and fuel, and the communication and cyber technology that connects people and supports the critical infrastructure systems we rely on daily, is a national priority that requires planning and coordination across the whole community.

The following link provides additional information about this declared month, offers tips on ways we can get involved and support this initiative and contains a link to the President’s Proclamation made last week: http://www.dhs.gov/critical-infrastructure-security-resilience-month. Additionally, it contains information about 16 specific infrastructure sectors that the nation is focused on protecting. A few of these include communications, critical manufacturing, dams, emergency services, financial, information technology, transportation and water/wastewater.


Campus Search & Rescue (CSAR) Welcomes New Graduates


The UCI Campus Search and Rescue (CSAR) Program wrapped up training series #20 last week; welcoming 23 new graduates to the team.  There are now close to 350 trained faculty and staff members prepared to help support the needs of our campus following a catastrophic earthquake or any other natural or manmade disaster. These individuals received training on disaster preparedness, hazardous material and fire safety, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, disaster psychology, terrorism awareness and workplace violence. In addition to now being a resource for the campus, even more importantly, these members are now better prepared to handle crisis situations they may come across in their personal lives as well.

Traditionally, the course has been held each Fall, however, it appears as though the Emergency Services Unit may be able to offer it a few times each year moving forward in to 2016. For more information on this please stay tuned to this blog and like us on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/UCIrvinePD More information will become available in the New Year.  If you are interested in taking this course, please email Anne Widney, Emergency Services Manager, @ awidney@uci.edu to be placed on the interest list. Again, congratulations to the new graduates and thank you for helping us make our campus a more resilient community.



When Godzilla Arrives, Will You Be Ready?


If you haven’t yet heard the townspeople say “Godzilla is coming, Godzilla is coming” then you probably haven’t been watching a whole lot of news. For months now, meteorologists and other geo weather experts have been warning southern Californian’s of the “Godzilla El Nino” that is expected this winter; particularly in the months of February and March 2016. It is important to note that El Nino doesn’t necessarily mean hurricane-type winds or ravaging storms but rather a mere consecutive pattern of moderate size storms with no break in between. The warming of the sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean allows the jet stream that is typically redirected from southern California to pass through all season long. Some of the pacific jet stream prediction models are suggesting that southern California will receive more rain than we did in either of our two previous El Nino winters in 97’ – 98’ and 82’ – 83’.

So, what can we do to prepare for this anticipated very wet winter? Well, quite a bit actually. The LA Times recently published a very good article about 28 things you and your family can do to get ready over the next couple of months. Some of these recommendations include fixing leaks, cleaning gutters, assessing your window glazing compounds, storing emergency repair material, checking the tire tread on your car, purchasing new windshield wipers, trimming your trees, considering flood insurance and many more. For more detailed information about these and other preparedness measures view the article @ http://www.latimes.com/home/la-hm-el-nino-20151017-story.html

Additionally, last week was the 2015 California Flood Preparedness Week and the California Department of Water Resources, the sponsor of this campaign, still has some very good reference material on their website accessible @ http://www.water.ca.gov/floodsafe/ca-flood-preparedness/fpw_home.cfm

Lastly, UCI is taking the El Nino warning very seriously and has established a working group made up of several essential campus departments to prepare for and mitigate against the substantial amount of water we may see here on campus in an effort to safeguard the community and it’s assets.


When Critical Transportation Routes Get Shut Down


Most of us understand how critical our transportation routes are in and out of southern California; however, few of us ever stop to think what a potential problem it could be if one or more of these were completely shut down. Last week, hundreds of thousands of California motorists, including the author of this comment, got to experience firsthand exactly what this looks like and just how important it is to keep a “go bag” in your vehicle, access information in a timely manner, and always have a backup plan.

Severe weather and flash flooding hit the northern perimeter of Los Angeles County last Thursday which caused an absolute mess on the roads. Miles of mudslides caused the north and southbound routes of Interstate 5 to close along with highway 58 which runs from Mojave to Bakersfield and is an alternative route to I-5 for southern California travelers. These are two of the four major northbound exit routes that a person can take out of southern California (along with the 101 and 395) and for them to be closed was a significant problem!

The following news clip provides an excellent synopsis of the seriousness of this recent weather event. It is also a great reminder to all of us that become complacent with our “sunny and seventy-five” weather that we are by no means exempt from these types of incidents and must always be prepared.


If you have not prepared a “go bag” yet for your vehicle, the following link may be helpful in getting you started: http://www.wellness.uci.edu/facultystaff/UCI-RA-Flyer.pdf

Also, if you find yourself stuck on the highway due to weather-related interruption you should be sure to download the “Caltrans” app for route closures and “SigAlert” app for traffic reports. AM radio is always a “go to” as well for these situations.



Get Ready; Stay Ready Campaign 2015

October – Clothing & Bedding


The “Get Ready; Stay Ready” campaign focus for the month of October is on having access to appropriate clothing and bedding in the aftermath of a disaster. It can take weeks and even months, in some cases, for significantly impacted areas to get back to a sense of normalcy and we must be adequately prepared to live with the circumstances of our situation; whatever that may look like. Are we suggesting that you go out and buy a new wardrobe to pack away with your disaster supplies? Of course not! In fact, this aspect of disaster planning can perhaps be one of the easiest and cost-friendly strategies of all as many of these items are things we typically donate, sell or throw away periodically throughout the year. So, before you pack that old sweatshirt in the “donation pile” or post those extra pair of shoes on eBay for sale, consider how these items might be used for disaster planning. As always, tailor this inventory to meet the needs of you and your family. The following recommendations may serve as a guide in this process:

A complete change of clothes (multiple sets) — sturdy shoes or boots — rain gear — hat and gloves — extra socks — extra underwear — thermal underwear — sunglasses — blankets — sleeping bags — pillows.


The Great California Shakeout


Are you more earthquake savvy than a 5th grader? ‪#‎UCIShakesOut‬ ‪#‎ZotReady

Join UCI this Thursday at 10:15 AM by practicing “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”.


UCI Festival of Discovery


Have you ever experienced an 8.0 magnitude earthquake? If not, what if you had the opportunity to do so; would you take it? Might it increase your personal level of preparedness for you, your family, and your pets? Find out the answers to these questions and more at UCI’s annual Festival of Discovery taking place this Saturday, October 3rd from 9am – 3pm in Aldrich Park. The UCIPD Emergency Services Unit would like to invite you out to our shared booth with Public Health staged at the Local + Global Impact Pavilion (see bottom of map) where we will be promoting earthquake safety and disaster preparedness. Our interactive display includes the Quake Cottage, an 8.0 magnitude earthquake simulator, and tips on how to prepare and keep safe during an earthquake. The Festival is open to the public and includes free admission and parking. Invite your friends, family, neighbors… This should be a fantastic event and an opportunity to better understand why we say “Drop, Cover & Hold On.”




UCI ZotReady Campaign


As a part of National Preparedness Month, UC Irvine Police Department is kicking off the ZotReady Campaign. ZotReady is a UC Irvine program designed to promote skills in emergency mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Our campus will soon begin seeing ZotReady posters throughout campus and receiving emergency-related material through a variety of methods. The ultimate goal is to reach each student, staff, faculty and resident on campus with, at least, the most urgent need-to-know information to prepare for and respond to emergencies. We’ve created Facebook & Twitter pages specifically designated to this campaign. Please take a moment and help us kick this messaging off together by “Liking” and sharing us with friends/family @ www.facebook.com/zotready & www.twitter.com/zotready

So, how ZotReady are you!?