The psychological of impact of disasters can oftentimes be more devastating to survivors than the physical damage or tangible losses themselves. Also, it’s very difficult to quantify this impact on a given population when conducting disaster preparedness activities and, as a result, efforts to mitigate these impacts can oftentimes be overlooked. The CSAR program covers a broad overview of disaster psychology, however, there was a recognized need for additional training. We wanted to provide our campus responders with a greater depth of knowledge in this area so that they will be more capable to effectively address the mental health concerns of disaster survivors after a devastating event.
On Monday, April 17th the UCI Emergency Management Division hosted a 2nd offering of the American Red Cross Psychological First Aid course to members of both the Campus Search & Rescue (CSAR) and Care & Shelter Team (CAST). The objectives of this training were to 1) Help responders be able to recognize the signs of stress in clients, co-workers and themselves, 2) Apply Psychological First Aid principles in providing immediate support to people who may be experiencing stress, and 3) Understand how to obtain additional mental health support for themselves, co-workers and clients.
There were 36 campus responders that attended this course and the class was delivered by a certified American Red Cross Instructor. The American Red Cross has been an outstanding partner to the UCIPD Management Division over the past few years with the development of the CAST initiative and continue to help shape and improve the program as it evolves.
It’s hard to believe that this past weekend, Easter Sunday – April 16th, marked the 10-year anniversary of the largest school shooting in the U.S. and second deadliest shooting spree (to that of the tragic 2016 Orlando, FL nightclub shooting) in U.S. history. The Virginia Tech tragedy of April 16, 2007 has been referred to by many as the “9/11 for Institutes of Higher Education” (IHEs) – drawing parallels to the legal and operational change in requirements to prepare for and respond to acts of violence on campuses as those national homeland security measures resulting from 9/11. To this day, universities and campuses look to the lessons learned from this tragic event and best practices implemented by Virginia Tech’s now robust emergency management program which has, in some ways, become a “gold standard” in higher education emergency preparedness.
The following article does an excellent job capturing the events that unfolded that day, summarizing the State and Federal legislative actions taken afterwards to strengthen safety and security measures for students, and telling the narrative of Virginia Tech’s response, recovery and continued dedication to protecting its community.
Next month, Virginia Tech will be hosting the “5th Annual Best Practices in Higher Education Emergency Management Conference” and the UCIPD Emergency Management Division has been selected to speak on a related topic to share best practices and contribute to the growing body of knowledge that can be shared among other higher education emergency management professionals to increase the resiliency of the institutions they serve.
Retains Prohibition on Wasteful Practices
Following unprecedented water conservation and plentiful winter rain and snow, last week Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. ended the drought state of emergency in most of California, while maintaining water reporting requirements and prohibitions on wasteful practices, such as watering during or right after rainfall.
“This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner,” said Governor Brown. “Conservation must remain a way of life.”
Executive Order B-40-17 lifts the drought emergency in all California counties except Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne, where emergency drinking water projects will continue to help address diminished groundwater supplies. Today’s order also rescinds two emergency proclamations from January and April 2014 and four drought–related executive orders issued in 2014 and 2015. For more information see http://www.oesnews.com/governor-brown-lifts-drought-emergency-retains-prohibition-on-wasteful-practices/
This week is National Public Safety Telecommunications Appreciation Week (April 9-15). We want to give a special thank you to our UCIPD Dispatchers as well as Dispatchers around the country.
UCIPD Dispatchers are the first to respond to the needs of our community when they call the Communications Center for assistance. The UCIPD Communications Center serves as the critical link between the University community and all public safety emergency and non-emergency responders. The Communications Center is a Public Safety Access Point (PSAP) for all 9-1-1 calls originating from University of California, Irvine, UC Irvine Health, and most cell phones on campus property.
Whether it is a call for assistance or a high stress emergency incident, our dispatchers provide a calm and compassionate response to the community and victims in distress, while simultaneously ascertaining critical information necessary to provide to responding emergency personnel. Dispatchers are truly everyone’s “back-up” on every call, providing information and resources to help keep the community safe.
For more information on this dedicated week visit: http://www.npstw.org/
#nationaltelecommunicatorsweek #thankadispatcher #dispatcher #911whatsyouremergency #911police #911dispatcher #UCIPD #UCI #UCIrvine #UCIpride #KeepUCIsafe
Last month, the Homeland Security Act for Children (H.R. 1372) was introduced to congress which, if signed in to law, would ensure a much greater level of attention to the needs of children in disaster preparedness, response and recovery planning. This bill, an amendment to a subsection within the Homeland Security Act 2002, is the result of findings dating back to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that children experience disasters much differently than adults and that such traumatizing events can change the trajectory of their lifetime. The basis of this bill is similar to the recent legislation passed and progress made by local, state and federal emergency management agencies to fully integrate the Access and Functional Needs (AFN) community in all aspects of the disaster planning process rather than by mere representation in an annex at the back of the Emergency Operations Plan.
Specifically, the primary objectives of the bill would accomplish the following:
- Direct FEMA to integrate planning for children in disaster into all facets of response, and includes the appointment of a technical expert;
- Integrate feedback from organizations that represent children into the work of the undersecretary for strategy, policy and plans; and
- Integrate the House and Senate Homeland Security committees into the conversation and accountability process to ensure the needs of children are met.
The Orange County Operational Area, chaired by the Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA) chairs a collaborative KIDs disaster planning working group which includes both public and non-profit partnerships. There is also a Schools committee which, inherently, integrate children in to the planning process. These efforts have been ongoing for some now; however, a federal law mandating greater attention on children could assist in future planning efforts down the road for Orange County in terms of both financial and non-financial resource allocation. More information on this bill can be found at https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1372/text
Tsunamis are among Earth’s rarest hazards. But, even though tsunamis do not occur very often, and most are small and nondestructive, they pose a major threat to coastal communities, particularly in the Pacific. A tsunami can strike any ocean coast at any time. There is no season for tsunamis. We cannot predict where, when or how destructive the next tsunami will be. However, while tsunamis cannot be prevented, there are things you can do before, during and after a tsunami that could save your life and the lives of your family and friends. The National Weather Service provides some excellent educational material on tsunamis and what you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe in the event of a tsunami. Visit them at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/Tsunami/
We have a lot of coastline here in Orange County and not that far from our UC Irvine community. So, in the event that our coast was struck by a fairly significant tsunami we would, without a doubt, be impacted here on campus. Many of our community members live or have family/friends who reside in Newport Beach and neighboring jurisdictions. The rest of us probably visit one of these coastal communities from time to time so it is extremely important to heed the warning and immediately move inland or to high ground following an earthquake. Every coastal city in Orange County is “Tsunami Ready,” as designated by NOAA/NWS (http://www.tsunamiready.noaa.gov/) which is why you will see the Tsunami Hazard Zone signs near the beaches (image attached). Do not take this instruction lightly. Tsunamis travel quickly and gain strength with each set of waves so it is no exaggeration to state that “every second counts.”
There have been hundreds of videos uploaded to YouTube with raw footage from the 2004 Sri Lankan Tsunami as well as the 2011 Tsunami that struck Japan after their devastating 9.0 earthquake. While these clips are sad to view, they provide us with a better understanding of the sheer magnitude and force carried by these types of disasters. For more information on Tsunami Preparedness Week visit http://www.tsunamizone.org/california/
On Tuesday, March 7th the UCIPD Emergency Management Division traveled up to Culver City to meet with Sony Pictures Global Security, Crisis & Emergency Management Team to learn how they protect their enterprise from natural and human-caused hazards worldwide. The meeting included a tour of both Sony’s Global Security Operations Center (G-SOC) & Emergency Operations Center (EOC). There were best practices shared between the two entities in regards to how each (UCI & Sony Pictures) prepares for, responds to and recovers from disasters discussing emergency management and business continuity. One of the most beneficial conversations throughout the day was the information shared by the Global Security Team regarding the 2014 state-sponsored cyber hack on Sony Pictures and the extent of damage to which the corporation has still not yet recovered from. This discussion was particularly relevant for the UCI emergency management team as Cyberterrorism is now ranked within the top five threats to the university following the most recent Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (HVA) that was completed at the end of last year. Sony’s team was kind enough to squeeze in a tour of the studio campus as well for the UCI staff as seen in the picture with the original Ghostbusters ride (Ectomobile or ECTO-1). Overall, a great day and unique opportunity to partner with a private-sector entity for mutual benefit as it relates to preparedness programming. UCIPD Emergency Management plans to host Sony’s team on campus for a tour at the end of March to reciprocate the hospitality.
“Over a century and a half ago, as gunfire echoed through America’s skies and division flared between North and South, a trailblazing woman, Clara Barton, braved bullets and cannon fire to deliver much-needed care, comfort, and supplies to wounded soldiers of the Civil War. Undaunted by expectations of women at the time, Clara Barton persevered, as she had her whole life, and strived to aid those who sacrificed to save our Union. Determined that humanitarianism could thrive in peace as well as in conflict, she carried her resolve overseas upon the war’s end and was introduced to a relief organization in Europe that inspired her to come home to the United States and establish the American Red Cross.”
A tradition which began by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943 established March as American Red Cross Month. During Red Cross Month, the American Red Cross is recognizing the country’s everyday heroes – those who reach out to help people in need. These are the people who –
- Help disaster victims get on the road to recovery
- Give blood to help a hospital patient
- Brighten the day of an injured service member who is in a hospital far from home
- Take one of our lifesaving classes and step forward to assist someone having a heart attack or to save a drowning child
The Red Cross responds to a community disaster every eight minutes, providing shelter, food, emotional support and other necessities to those affected. It provides 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families at home and around the world. It must collect 14,000 units of blood every day to fulfill the country’s needs. It trains millions of people in first aid, water safety and other lifesaving skills. And it supports the vaccination of children around the globe against measles and rubella.
Red Cross Month is a great time to become part of the Red Cross. You can work on a preparedness plan with members of your household so you are ready for emergencies. You can also become a volunteer, give blood or make a financial donation. For more information, contact the local Orange County Chapter @ http://www.redcross.org/ca/orange-county
Looking back on 2016, it’s difficult to believe that so many significant disasters could occur over a single calendar year. Many of these we recall seeing in the “headlines” but only long enough until news outlets and social media could catch the next major story. Oftentimes, the “camera” stops rolling before the storm has even moved on or the wildfire is contained. The aftershocks of an earthquake even have a difficult time getting news coverage unless it exceeds the magnitude or damage of the initial shaking. So, because “awareness” is a step towards “preparedness,” it seemed appropriate to recall these major incidents with a “2016 Year in Review: Disaster Edition.” Below is a summary of the most devastating disasters that took place over the last calendar year. Additional information on all of these can be found @ http://www.livescience.com/57303-biggest-natural-disasters-of-the-year.html
Winter Storm Jonas:
The massive winter storm left the northeast U.S. covered in such extensive snowfall that the white precipitation was clearly visible from space. Over the course of one weekend (Jan. 23-24), Jonas broke records for snowfall in various places along the East Coast.
On Feb. 6, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit 17 miles (28 kilometers) northeast of Pingtung City in southern Taiwan. It’s relatively shallow depth (14 miles, or 23 km, below the surface) caused widespread damage, toppling buildings in the city of Tainan. The quake caused an estimated 117 deaths and left hundreds more injured.
A series of wildfires blazed across California this year, burning more than half a million acres. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 6,938 fires had burned 565,070 acres (229,000 hectares) as of Dec. 11, 2015.
Tremendous downpours inundated Louisiana in August, when some regions received more than 20 inches (50.8 cm) of rain over a 72-hour span (from Aug. 12‑14). At least six rivers hit record levels during the rainfall.
Central Italy was rattled this year by three strong earthquakes in just three months. A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck Aug. 24 about 6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers) southeast of Norcia, Italy. The initial quake was followed by several aftershocks, including a 5.5-magnitude earthquake that struck 2.5 miles (4 km) northeast of Norcia the same day. The temblors rocked Central Italy, killing hundreds of people as medieval-era stone buildings collapsed.
Hurricane Matthew was a powerhouse of a storm that circulated through the Atlantic Ocean in October. The strongest storm seen in the Atlantic since Hurricane Felix in 2007, Matthew briefly reached Category 5 hurricane status — with winds exceeding 157 mph (252 km/h).
New Zealand Earthquake & Tsunami:
A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand on Nov. 14. Though the quake’s epicenter was northeast of Christchurch, the massive temblor was felt as far away as New Zealand’s capital of Wellington, located 120 miles (200 km) away, on the North Island. About 2 hours after the initial quake, tsunami waves over 7 feet (2 meters) tall hit the coast.
Areas around Gatlinburg, Tennessee, were consumed by wildfires on Nov. 28, closing the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and forcing thousands to flee their homes. The inferno spread rapidly through the area’s drought-stricken forest, pushed by gusty winds. According to meteorologists, the gusty winds blowing dry leaves spread the blaze, also knocking over power lines and sparking new fires.
During the first week of March, a 7.8-magnitude temblor struck about 500 miles (800 km) southwest of Sumatra, an island in western Indonesia. On Dec. 7, another earthquake shook the island nation. The shallow 6.5-magnitude quake’s epicenter was 12 miles (19 km) southeast of Indonesia’s Aceh province, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). It damaged hundreds of structures in the district of Pidie Jaya in Aceh.. At least 100 people were killed and 136 seriously injured.
The eye-opening events taking place in Northern California this week, with the breaches of the Oroville Dam, may prove to be an example of how disasters can sometimes be the result of a failure to act. There is a significant amount of documentation, dating back to 2008, that the remedial measures taken to fix the defects of the main spillway found in numerous inspection reports sent to state and federal officials were insufficient. Additionally, there were a number of other warnings and “red flags” raised about the possibility of massive erosion of the emergency spillway which, in fact, occurred and resulted in the evacuation of nearly 200,000 residents in downstream communities from the reservoir. However, there are a number of external inspectors and engineers that have defended that state’s management of the spillway and reported that all standards for dam inspections and maintenance had been met leading up to this incident. The following article provides more information about the Oroville Dam failures and debate over whether or not anything more could’ve been done to prevent the current situation: http://www.govtech.com/em/disaster/Alarms-raised-years-ago-about-risks-of-Oroville-Dams-spillways.html
Fortunately, this disaster was purely infrastructure-centric and did not result in a loss of life or community but it very well could’ve. The preliminary estimated cost associated with repairing this infrastructure suggests around $200 million and, again, this is without the subsequent costs of an actual disaster to the communities around it. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered the Department of Water Resources to perform a forensic analysis aimed at determining the cause of the chute failure. So, while the “jury” may still be “out” on whether or not gross negligence played a factor, this incident will likely be a great case study on the cost-benefit of mitigation measures for the outdated infrastructure in this country moving forward.