2018 Campus Search and Rescue (CSAR) Annual Training

The UCI Campus Search and Rescue (CSAR) program, which is coordinated by Anne LeSage from UCIPD’s Emergency Management Division, held its annual training for new members in August 2018. CSAR is a voluntary program that is open to all UCI faculty and staff, and provides participants with the necessary tools and information to improve their ability to assist family members, neighbors, and colleagues during and after an emergency or disaster.

With the completion of the 3-day, 18-hour training, which was held in the Palo Verde Community Room on August 3, 10, and 17, the campus welcomed its 23rd CSAR Cohort that was comprised of 32 new volunteers. These new members will now bolster the cadre of dedicated CSAR volunteers – over 400 individuals have been trained since the program’s inception in 2004 – that are prepared to answer the call and assist the campus following a large emergency or disaster. For example, should an activation of CSAR by campus leadership be required, these individuals may be asked to assist emergency responders by searching lightly damaged buildings, triaging injured people, providing limited first aid, and performing other duties, as necessary.

As such, the rigorous, yet fun and engaging, CSAR curriculum has been designed to ensure all participants who successfully complete the program have the adequate knowledge and skills to perform the aforementioned vital duties following any emergency or disaster. In all, topics covered during the training include disaster preparedness, emergency utility shut-offs, hazardous materials handling, fire safety and suppression, disaster first aid and triage, light search and rescue, disaster psychology, terrorism and active shooter incidents, and a review of campus emergency management plans. Lastly, the final training session closes with a full-scale drill to practice and reinforce everything learned throughout the course.

If you are a UCI faculty or staff member and are interested in learning more about CSAR, please contact Anne LeSage at awidney@uci.edu, or visit the CSAR webpage.


2018 UC Irvine Commencement – Incident Command Post (ICP) Activation

Newkirk Pavilion – Home of the 2018 UC Irvine Commencement ICP!

View of ICP tech

The 2018 UC Irvine Commencement ceremonies that were held on June 15-18, celebrated the years of hard work and dedication of more than 7,000 students. Nearly 9,800 undergraduate and graduate degrees were awarded this academic year, most of which were granted in one of the 11 ceremonies held at the UCI Bren Events Center over the weekend. Countless friends, family, and loved ones flocked to campus to cheer on their graduates, all of which made ensuring the safety and security of guests, students, staff, and faculty a leading priority.

ICP staff looking towards Bren Events Center

As UC Irvine continues to grow in terms of both student population and physical space, so do the annual commencement ceremonies. This year’s 11 separate graduation services held over 4 days set a record for UC Irvine, and that number is only expected to increase next year. Therefore, with those challenges in mind, staff from the Emergency Management Division of the UCI Police Department (UCIPD) established an Incident Command Post (ICP) in the Newkirk Pavilion Donor Room at the Anteater Baseball Stadium to better position coordinating resources should a major incident occur.

Graduates lining up before entering Bren Events Center

The ICP, which was just a short walk from the Bren Events Center, allowed staff that included representatives from Emergency Management, Strategic Communications, Public Affairs, and Environmental Health & Safety and Risk Services (EHS) to monitor commencement activities, track issues, and maintain close communications with UCIPD officers on the field. Fortunately, no issues were reported and all ceremonies concluded in a smooth and efficient manner. Nevertheless, Emergency Management staff took advantage of this opportunity to enhance their capabilities by practicing setting up a functional ICP and continuing to build positive working relationships with campus partners. It is their hope that a major emergency never occurs in UC Irvine, but nonetheless, practice, train, and drill as if it were a foregone certainty.

Lastly, special thanks to all those involved in the planning and execution of the 2018 UC Irvine Commencement ICP, including UCIPD, UCI Athletics, Campus Dining, EHS, Strategic Communications, and Public Affairs.

Until next year!

ICP set-up

2018 UCI EOC/DOC Functional Exercise

View of EOC at work!

Would you know how to cope with a power outage that lasts 3 hours? Probably so, right? Not too big of a deal – you probably have enough battery on your iPad and phone to get you through half the day. Well, what if you were told the power outage would last 3 days… would you have the resources on-hand to cope with such an event? Not so easy anymore!

UCI staff recently exercised this exact scenario in an effort to ensure our campus community is prepared to face this challenge by continuing to improve our all-hazards strategies and resilience.

On Tuesday, June 5, 2018, staff from various UCI departments with official roles in emergency management response participated in the annual Emergency Operations Center (EOC) / Department Operations Center (DOC) Functional Exercise. This year, participants tackled an extended power outage scenario that aimed to test various planning objectives outlined in the latest revision of the Power Outage Annex of the Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). These objectives included executing scenario-driven processes such as prioritizing generators for refueling, confirming generator refueling schedules and generator run-times, and discussing potential academic calendar impacts of such an event, as well implementing common EOC/DOC processes such as fulfilling resource requests, entering data into a critical information management system, and disseminating timely notifications for staff, faculty, and students.

The exercise commenced at 08:30 AM with the activation of the EOC, followed shortly with the activation of five DOCs that included Environmental Health & Safety and Risk Services, Facilities Management, Office of Information Technology, Housing Administrative Services, and Student Affairs. Participants relied on their previous training to address tough issues designed to be realistic, yet manageable, in order to continue to foster our no-fault learning environment. This year’s functional exercise also boasted some of the highest participation rates for our campus in recent years. The campus’ EOC alone had over 50 participants, including external partners from the Orange County Fire Authority.

Although no exercise or training is perfect, we hope to gather feedback from our participants to continue refining response processes, improving internal and external communications, strengthening relationships, and building better training and exercises.

Thanks to all those who made the exercise possible, including our exercise planning team and participants! Until next time!


Our EOC Planning Section developing the Organizational Chart for the day.

The Student Affairs DOC receiving instruction on the exercise from Jessica Leggett.

Our EOC Management Section discussing emerging issues.

An Ebola Outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Is a Public Health Emergency on the Horizon?

A Harbinger of Worst Things to Come?

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) is experiencing an Ebola virus outbreak that has many in the public health community alarmed. The current outbreak was first confirmed on May 8, but until recently, the active transmission of the virus was confined to a few rural areas of the country. As of Thursday, May 17, that all changed as the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that one person had been infected with the disease in Mbandaka, a provincial capital city with a population of over 1.2 million people.

This important development greatly complicates the fight to slow down and halt the spread of the deadly disease – after all, fighting the virus in rural forest villages that often have single points of ingress and egress is much different than fighting it in an urban setting. To illuminate this point, Mbandaka is a port city on the Congo River that serves as an important transportation hub just downstream of Kinshasa, Congo’s capital with a population of about 12 million people. Therefore, if there is active transmission in Mbandaka, then the potential for the virus to spread even further is truly a disturbing reality.

Of course, if Ebola were to spread to other urban cities, the effects would be disastrous, to say the least. The current outbreak has had at least 45 reported cases, including three health workers, and 26 people are believed to have died due to the disease. These numbers pale in comparison to those reported during the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic, which caused more than 11,300 deaths. Nevertheless, with news of its spread into an urban city, it is certainly time to start asking the question: Is a public health emergency on the horizon?

Take Action Now and Hope for the Best

WHO experts and leadership say not quite yet. Last Friday, May 18, an emergency committee meeting was convened to discuss the international risks associated with this outbreak. It was determined that conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) had not been met… at least not yet. The good news is that the lack of a PHEIC designation does not prevent the flood of domestic and international resources from pouring into the affected regions. Quite the contrary – it seems like every lesson learned from the 2014-16 epidemic kicked into high gear this past week.

Border surveillance measures have been strengthened in 13 countries near Congo, where arrivals are screened for signs of the disease. At the various city ports of Mbandaka, infrared thermometers are being used to scan travelers, as well, even though the demand far outweighs the number of equipment on hand at this point. Elsewhere in the affected region, places where people congregate have started to provide hygiene basins, where people can use soap and water to wash their hands. Societal norms have also been pushed aside, as people are advised to not shake hands to greet one another. Furthermore, hospitals and clinics are making the transition to become Ebola receiving sites, or at the very least, began separating individuals suspected of being infected with the virus for isolation and treatment. In the field, responders are being equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) and a large number of body bags are being supplied for burials.

The international community is also lending their support. The most publicized of which is the use of an unlicensed vaccine produced by Merck that produced very positive outcomes during the waning days of the 2014-16 epidemic. As of Monday, May 22, over 4,000 doses had been delivered to the country – the first to be vaccinated will be the responders, including health care and funeral services staff. Yet, this influx of medication does not come without its challenges – this vaccine must be stored in very low temperatures, and in a country that faces unreliable power supply, this is certainly an issue. In addition, a cadre of experts have been flown in and voluntary organizations are already in place opening treatment centers and conducting valuable surveillance work.

If we learned anything from the 2014-16 Ebola virus epidemic is that a sluggish initial response coupled with a lack of international attention does not help curb this deadly communicable disease. This time around, action is being taken early while hoping for the best.



  1. BBC: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-44194065
  2. The Globe and Mail: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-ebola-spreads-into-congolese-city-as-canadian-vaccine-arrives/
  3. The New  York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/17/world/africa/ebola-congo.html
  4. WHO – Statement on the 1st meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee regarding the Ebola outbreak in 2018: http://www.who.int/news-room/detail/18-05-2018-statement-on-the-1st-meeting-of-the-ihr-emergency-committee-regarding-the-ebola-outbreak-in-2018
  5. WHO – WHO supports Ebola vaccination of high risk populations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: http://www.who.int/news-room/detail/21-05-2018-who-supports-ebola-vaccination-of-high-risk-populations-in-the-democratic-republic-of-the-congo

2018 National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day

Did you know that tomorrow, May 5, is not only Cinco de Mayo, but also Wildfire Community Preparedness Day?

That’s right… 2018 marks the 5th anniversary for National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. On this day, individuals everywhere are encouraged to volunteer a few hours of their time (or a whole day if you are super awesome!) in order to help reduce their community’s wildfire risk. We cannot stress enough how important it is to be informed about and prepared for the risks posed by wildfires… after all, we do live in sunny Southern California!

To learn more about why you might want to get involved with and support Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, check out this video.

So now you might be asking, “Well, all this information is great and, sure, it is important, but how can I get involved?” Lucky for you, there is a map for that! To find volunteer projects near you, visit the National Fire Protection Association’s webpage and search their project map. However, if you are in the Irvine area, we recommend attending the Orange County Fire Watch’s 3rd Annual Fire Watch Symposium, which will be held at the Quail Hill Community Center (39 Shady Canyon Drive) from 8:00am-12:00pm. It will be a great opportunity for those in attendance to learn more about fire prevention from experts in the field. If that doesn’t hook you in, then they will also have wildland firefighting equipment and personnel in attendance for folks to check out!

Lastly, don’t forget to view our UC Irvine fire preparedness webpage to learn more about what to do when you encounter a fire emergency.

Until next time – May the Fourth be with You!

44th Annual National Volunteer Week – Recognizing UCI Volunteer Groups Active in Disasters

This week, April 15-22, the world celebrates the 44th Annual National Volunteer Week. It is a time meant to highlight the impact of volunteer service in our communities, and at UC Irvine, we would be remiss not to mention and be thankful for our cadre of outstanding volunteers. Without our volunteers’ time, talent, and dedication, our campus community would not be the strong and resilient institution that it is today, especially when addressing emergency preparedness, disaster response, and recovery operations.

The UC Irvine Police Department’s Emergency Management Division coordinates many of the campus’ volunteer groups that would be active during an emergency or disaster. Our volunteer groups may be activated or called upon for many reasons – from directing and facilitating building evacuations, to working in evacuation shelters, or undertaking search and rescue operations, and even assessing damages to campus infrastructure, just to name a few. We ensure that all of our volunteers are adequately and continuously trained, properly equipped, and supported to handle the duties they are assigned. If you are a member of the UC Irvine community and would like more information about any volunteer groups outlined below, please contact the UC Irvine Emergency Management Director, Anne Widney-Lesage, at (949) 824-7147.


Zone Crew

With nearly 790 volunteer members comprised of UC Irvine staff and faculty, Zone Crew members help facilitate building and campus evacuations or shelter / secure-in-place orders during an emergency. The campus is divided into thirteen ‘Zones’, each with a designated Zone Captain. Zone Captains, who are responsible for coordinating the Zone Crew activities for each zone, select Building Coordinators for every single building on campus to assist them during an activation. Floor Wardens, and in some buildings, Lab or Suite Representatives, are volunteers who assist the Building Coordinators to ensure orders are followed in their assigned areas of responsibility.

Thank you, Zone Crew volunteers!


Campus Search and Rescue (CSAR)

The Campus Search and Rescue (CSAR) team is comprised of nearly 235 individual volunteers from the UC Irvine community. These dedicated individuals have received specialized training (18 hours provided free-of-charge by the UCIPD), which includes modules on disaster preparedness, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue operations, and disaster psychology, in order to provide supplemental assistance in a variety of tasks when large-scale emergencies affect the campus community. By the end of the training curriculum, CSAR team members are able to improve their emergency preparedness at home, in their own communities, and on campus.

Thank you, CSAR volunteers!


Care and Shelter Team (CAST)

The Care and Shelter Team (CAST) is comprised of over 40 trained UC Irvine volunteers who would provide supplementary assistance to the American Red Cross, should one of our two designated shelter sites, the Anteater Recreation Center or Bren Events Center, be activated for shelter operations. CAST volunteers may often be our “first-on-site” personnel who would be responsible for opening up the shelter location and gathering shelter supplies. All CAST members must take the American Red Cross Shelter Fundamentals course to be eligible.

Thank you, CAST volunteers!


Rapid Building Assessment Team (RBAT)

After a major earthquake or similar significant incident, it is critical for campus infrastructure to be assessed for damages in order to ensure the safety of our community members. The Rapid Building Assessment Team, which is comprised of nearly 73 trained volunteers from various campus departments, is responsible for providing an initial assessment of damages to buildings, while also providing recommendations for continued use and re-entry. These initial assessments will certainly expedite the process for resuming our day-to-day functions following a significant incident, while also identifying hazards that will need to be corrected. All RBAT volunteers have completed the ATC20/SAP Training provided by the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES).

Thank you, RBAT volunteers!


Emergency Operations Center (EOC)

The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at UC Irvine is the location from which centralized emergency management operations are coordinated during a major disaster or emergency. The EOC performs this function by providing a single point for centralized information management, decision-making, and resource management. Nearly 70 UC Irvine volunteers that represent several campus departments staff the EOC. All volunteers have received formal training in one or more sections – Management, Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance & Administration – to ensure that a holistic approach to emergency management is implemented.

Thank you, EOC volunteers!

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month!

Learn to protect yourself and UC during National Cyber Security Awareness Month

You’ve read the headlines. Organizations big and small, including even large retailers and mega companies, are not immune to data breaches and hackers’ increasingly sophisticated schemes. It seems daunting and you may ask yourself, “What can I do?”

You can protect yourself — and the university — from becoming victims by staying vigilant.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) and a good time to remind ourselves that the information and systems we use to carry out UC’s mission of teaching, research, and public service must be safeguarded. Technological protections alone are not always enough. Keeping that information secure is a shared responsibility, and everyone at UC has an opportunity to protect it.

Cybersecurity resources:
– UCI’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month page http://security.uci.edu/cyber-security/index-ncsam.html
– UCI’s Information Security and Privacy website https://security.uci.edu/
– UC’s systemwide Information Security Awareness website https://security.ucop.edu/resources/security-awareness/index.html

Ask questions or get help by contacting the OIT Help Desk:
– Online at OIT’s website
– By email at oit@uci.edu
– By phone at 949-824-2222

National Preparedness Month, Week 3: “Practice & Build Out Your Plans”

National Preparedness Month has been observed in September since 2004 and has already reached its 13-year anniversary. The objective of this declared observance is to encourage Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools, and communities. Some of these steps include building emergency supply kits, making a family emergency plan and communications plan, staying informed on disaster information and related risks, and taking advantage of opportunities to get involved in preparedness/response efforts. There are a number of exciting things going on in the preparedness community this month which can be found at https://www.ready.gov/september

The focus of National Preparedness Month Week 3 is on practicing and further development of your emergency plans. Hopefully, you have done or will do your homework on gathering information about the hazards and/or potential disasters that could harm you or your family members. Perhaps you’ve taken that crucial step in disaster preparedness by building your emergency kit or “go bag.” And if you’ve really taken your preparedness seriously then you have probably developed an emergency plan for yourself and/or your family (see http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan). But now what? One of the most important things you can do to validate your preparedness efforts is to practice them. So what does this mean exactly? How might you practice them and what elements should you focus on? Consider the following and get creative with it:

Exercise your emergency plan with your family

a. Identified evacuation routes (travel)
i. Practice evacuating to the destinations you have identified by taking the routes you have identified in your plan.
ii. Time how long it takes.
iii. Understand traffic/road construction patterns at different times of day.
iv. Think about possible vulnerabilities of these routes and how they may be impassable (under/over bridges, overpasses, etc.) following a large disaster; in particular, for us southern Californians, a large earthquake.
v. Drive alternate routes to arrive at the same destination.
vi. Ensure that am radio stations are preset in your car to those stations that will provide local disaster information; particularly regarding evacuation routes.

b. Identified evacuation routes (in home)
i. Practice the evacuation routes with the family to get outside the home.
ii. Make sure that nothing is obstructing these routes and that doors, windows, garage doors, etc. all open and function correctly.
iii. Test everybody’s knowledge of where the primary and backup meeting locations are outside the home and validate that they are still in safe; open places.
iv. Ensure that everybody has close-toed shoes accessible next to or near their bed to avoid walking over sharp objects.
v. Time how long it takes for the family to evacuate and did they grab the things identified in the emergency plan (i.e. “go bag,” pets, etc.)

c. Written emergency communications plan
i. Make sure everybody in the family has the contact information for the out-of-area point-of-contact to check-in with following a disaster. Likewise ensure the out-of-area point-of-contact has the contact information for those family members that will be calling. Validate all contact information is up-to-date.
ii. Call this out-of-area contact person and remind them that they are the primary point-of-contact identified in the communications plan. Also, consider identifying a back-up and tertiary. Make sure that you have a conversation with these back up contacts about this plan.
iii. Ensure that everybody knows what information to provide this person following a disaster (i.e. condition, location, needs, reunification status, etc.)
iv. Everybody send each other a “TEST Emergency” text message.

Check your emergency kit or “go bag”:

a. Pull everything out of you emergency kit and refresh yourself on what’s inside. Many people buy kits pre-packaged which is great but not everybody takes the time to go through it to see what’s inside and understand how everything works.
b. Make sure others in your home know what’s on the inside and when these supplies might be used.
c. Check the functionality of these supplies and replace/replenish batteries and anything else that need to be occasionally switched out or that may expire.
d. Identify any other items that should be added to your kit and fill some of these gaps. The idea is to continuously improve your kit or “go bag” over time.
e. Put your backpack on your back and wear it or hold it for a little while and get a feel for how heavy it is. Ask yourself whether or not you would be able to carry it for very long.

Testing and exercising the above aspects of your plan and supplies are important but can be made fun at the same time. You may choose to use a disaster scenario of your choice, activate your family’s practice run of this plan without any notice to them, or treat them to ice cream after your family has successfully “survived the zombie apocalypse.” It’s ok to add some humor to it and, in fact, this is one way in which many people learn and retain information the best. It is especially recommended to make these “dry runs” fun if you have small children in the house because this will get them used to and conditioned to some of the actions to be taken in a real emergency.

Disasters don’t plan ahead, you can!

Enjoy the Eclipse, Protect Your Eyes

We are now within a week of one of the most anticipated celestial events in recent history, however, before running out of the classroom, workplace, or your home to observe next week’s solar eclipse there is some precautionary information you should know. The Orange County Register published an article yesterday which answered some commonly asked questions related to eye protection during a solar eclipse.  The questions and answers are summarized below but to access the complete article please visit: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/08/15/how-to-protect-your-eyes-during-next-weeks-solar-eclipse-in-southern-california/

How can I safely view the partial (for southern Californian’s) eclipse?

Wear eclipse glasses or watch with a handheld solar viewer or through a pinhole projection. Eclipse glasses must meet the worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2.  Recommended vendors can be found here: https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters

Why aren’t dark sun glasses good enough?

Regular sunglasses, at most, absorb 90% of sunlight while eclipse glasses are designed to absorb 99.9%.

What happens if I look directly at a partial eclipse?

Damage can occur in seconds, not minutes. The retina is a delicate structure in the back of the eye that can be permanently scarred by the intensity of the sun.

What has research shown about eye injuries after an eclipse?

Injuries are most common in children or young adults. In particular, teenagers and young adults that still bear the natural developmental trait of “invincibility” tend to incur injuries as a result of believing they cannot be harmed by staring at the sun.

While wearing eclipse glasses, is it safe to take pictures or use binoculars?

No, the intense solar rays coming through the devices will damage the solar filter and your eyes.

Is it safe to watch from the car or indoors?

No, tinted glass does not provide adequate protection.

Are some people at greater risk than others?

Yes, those with lighter eye color or underlying eye disease are more susceptible to damage.

For more information about the solar eclipse on August 21st and safety-related measures please visit the NASA website at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/eclipse-who-what-where-when-and-how  Stay safe and enjoy!


UCI Emergency Management Hosts FEMA Training

Last week, the UCI Emergency Management Division hosted a two-day; 16-hour FEMA training titled “Executive Seminar: Prevention of, Response to, and Recovery from Campus Emergencies.” The curriculum provided participants with an understanding of and ability to navigate through the difficult aspects of dealing with campus emergencies involving natural or human-caused events, including acts of violence.  The course consisted of small; problem-based, integrated group activities that required a coordinated approach to solve.  Through tabletop scenarios, course participants observed developing incidents and responded in a manner that was consistent with currently established campus plans, policies and procedures.

The training was made possible through FEMA’s National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC) and this course, specifically, was delivered by three subject matter experts from Louisiana State University’s (LSU) National Center for Biomedical Research and Training (NCBRT). The course was well attended and included both UCI staff as well as public safety personnel from other local colleges and universities which contributed greatly to the quality of class discussions.  A few of these other institutions included CSU Dominguez Hills, Loyola Marymount, Coastline Community College, UC San Diego and Los Angeles Community College District.

The training provided UCI emergency management with new “tools” and operational concepts to consider regarding campus preparedness, however, it also validated what a strong emergency management program the campus currently has in place. In fact, during the lead instructor’s final remarks, he commented that having delivered this course to more than 120 colleges and universities during his tenure, UCI has one of the strongest and most robust emergency management programs that he has ever seen.  Furthermore, he requested permission to use the UCI Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) and related Annexes in future courses as “best practices” to benefit other institutes of higher education.

UCI strives to be a leader in education, research, patient care, innovation and world change and the Emergency Management Division has adopted this same vision as it relates to being a leader in emergency preparedness both within higher education and the larger community as a whole.