Haiti, Japan, Northridge and Loma Prieta Earthquakes and the Evolution of US&R

February 27th, 2018

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Deputy Chief Larry Collins is the Cal OES Fire and Rescue Deputy Fire Chief of the Special Operations and Hazardous Material Unit, having joined Cal OES in November, 2016. He oversees the State Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Response Program which includes response, training, terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destructions related operations, flood and swiftwater rescue operations, and hazardous material unit.

Chief Collins joined Cal OES Fire and Rescue Division after serving 36 years in all ranks at the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD). He served up to the Battalion Chief position, with many years assigned to some of the busiest fire/rescue companies and battalions, and has 30 years of experience as a paramedic. He was assigned to three active LACoFD battalions and he spent 19 years as a Captain at the department’s Central Urban Search and Rescue Unit, responding by ground unit or helicopter to a wide variety of challenging technical rescues, multi-alarm fires, and major emergencies across Los Angeles County and surrounding counties. He was a Search Team Manager and Task Force Leader on LACoFD’s California OES/FEMA USAR Task Force (CA-TF2), deploying to disasters including the 2015 Nepal Earthquake disaster; the 2011 Japan Earthquake/Tsunami catastrophe; the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, and the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. Chief Collins has been an active member of the FEMA US&R Incident Support Teams (IST), having served since 1995 as a US&R Specialist, Division/Group Supervisor, Branch Director, and Operations Section Chief to help coordinate federal urban search and rescue operations at Hurricanes Sandy, Katrina, Ivan, Ike, Rita, Frances, Gustav, Irene, Dennis, Wilma, Dolly, Earl, and most recently Mathew. As an IST member, he also responded to the 9/11 Attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing, and various national security events and exercises. 

Chief Collins left LACoFD with a record of innovative leadership and actualizing informed visions for the future of the fire/rescue services. During his employment with LACoFD, Chief Collins demonstrated his ability to initiate, institute, and successfully manage unique improvements and enhancements to public safety. This included many years of invaluable inter-agency and multidisciplinary experiences, collaborations, and innovations that continue to have local, state, national, and international impact. Chief Collins’ diverse list also includes: founding of LACoFD’s Swiftwater Rescue Program and the continued development of LACoFD’s US&R Program, working with Cal OES and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on development of the state and national US&R systems, also working with Cal OES on developing the statewide swiftwater rescue team network, mud and debris flow response protocols and rescue procedures, fireground rapid intervention protocols, active shooter response procedures, aquatic helicopter swiftwater workshop rescue evolutions, terrorism planning and response, new approaches to diverse challenges like trench and excavation collapse rescue, large animal rescue, confined space/deep shaft rescue, and the use of technology to improve search and rescue. His experiences even included new designs for firefighter turnouts/bunker gear to improve the speed by which downed firefighters can be rescued.

Chief Collins frequently served as a bridge between emergency response and the sciences, industry, and government agencies helping to innovate multidisciplinary programs like the California Shakeout Earthquake Exercise; the California Catastrophic Earthquake Plan; the L.A. County Tsunami Plan, and the Post-Station Fire Mud and Debris Flow Response Plans. Chief Collins has been able to communicate and articulate the visions, innovations, and lessons learned to fire/rescue service operators and the public by authoring reports, published articles, and books. Ironically, author Dete Messerve based a main character in her novels “Good Sam” and “Perfectly Good Crime” on Chief Collins and his work.

Chief Collins is also a recipient of the Carnegie Hero Fund Award (1983), and the L.A. County Community Protector Award. He was named as firefighter of the year in several of LACoFD’s contract cities, and he received the Lifetime Achievement and team awards from the Higgins/Langley Memorial Fund for Swiftwater Rescue.

Links

Cal OES Fire & Rescue

Urban Search & Rescue Task Forces

Sky News Report on the Rescue of Jeanette: Woman rescued after six days Haiti survivor

BUCK HELM — Man Who Lived 90 Hours In Quake Rubble Is Dead

Loma Prieta earthquake: Mercury News coverage, the Buck Helm rescue

4 things EMS providers must know about crush syndrome

 

 

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Leaders React to Major Milestone After October 2017 Wildfires in Sonoma County

February 12th, 2018

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The inferno unleashed on Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino Counties, as well as several other northern California counties, left behind the kind of devastation many have only read about in the history books. Thousands of structures and homes were destroyed, entire neighborhoods left in ruins, and of course the 44 lives lost. There is one neighborhood that symbolizes the destruction and a community’s resilience to bounce back — Coffey Park in Santa Rosa.

In this episode, we hear from four leaders who were instrumental in managing the efforts to find temporary homes for the thousands displaced, removing the massive amounts of rubble and debris, and cleaning the land to modern environmental standards so residents can rebuild. They are:

Cal OES Directory Mark Ghilarducci,

FEMA Region IX Administrator Bob Fenton,

US Army Corps of Engineers Field Office Commander in Sonoma County Col. Eric McFadden, and

FEMA National Qualifications System Director and  Federal Lead for the Housing Task Force Ryan Buras.

We spoke with them on-location to get them reflect shortly after the day debris removal program in Coffey Park concluded. The also talk about the fire and resulting flood and mudslides in Santa Barbara. Here they are, in their own words. 

Links

http://wildfirerecovery.org/

http://caloes.ca.gov/

https://www.ready.gov/

 

 

 

 

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Amber Anderson: At Home with the Santa Barbara Mudslide

January 23rd, 2018

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We sit down with Amber Anderson, an 18 year veteran firefighter, and 10 year veteran of the Santa Barbara City Fire Department. She’s a member of the Santa Barbara County Type-3 Incident Management Team, a fire inspector and investigator and public information officer. In this episode Amber talks about the fire community always learns from previous disasters; this time it’s the Thomas Fire and the ensuing flood and mudslide which devastated her county and the community of Montecito. She also reflects on how  Santa Barbara stood-up their incident management team just prior to the floods and just how important that decision was given the damage and deaths that resulted from the floods. And how in the world was she able to keep a smile on her face amid the long hours, demands and stress put on her during her activation and deployment to the disaster in her home town? She’ll answer that question and more in this episode. Oh, and never mind the noise. It’s a disaster recovery operation.

Links

City of Santa Barbara Fire Department

Santa Barbara County

Cal OES Newsroom

Cal OES Home Page

Montecito Mudslide US&R Update Video

 

 

 

 

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Contractors & Recovery: Disasters Bring Out the Best in People, the Worst in Some

December 19th, 2017

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Shawn Boyd & Rick Lopes

 

With tens of thousands of homes that need rebuilding after the fire sieges in both northern California and southern California, survivors will need reputable, licensed contractors. And contractors will be looking for work; there’s plenty of that to go around.  So, both homeowners and contractors will need reliable information and the warnings that go along with it; and agencies need info too.  Whether it’s a community hit by wildfires, or one that’s been devastated by severe weather or man-made catastrophes, new ways of targeted communication pop-up all the time; now it’s time for you to connect. And if you’re a contractor and you’re not licensed to do business in California you could face a citation for any work you solicit. The fact that there is an emergency declaration will enhance a misdemeanor which could send you to prison.

In this episode, we talk with Rick Lopes, chief of public affairs for the Contractors State License Board in California. This is chat that will benefit state and local agencies, contractors as well anyone looking to hire a contractor, especially after the wildfires of October and December of 2017.

 

CSLB Sign

Links

Contractors State License Board

Cal OES Wildfire Statewide Recovery Resources

 

 

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Butte County Dispatchers Evacuate but Continue to Answer-the-Call During Oroville Spillway Evacuation

October 3rd, 2017

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Being a dispatcher is stressful enough, but imagine being one when your entire county must evacuate? In this episode, Cal OES Public Information Officers Robb Mayberry and Monica Vargas chat with two dispatchers from the Butte County Sheriff’s Office about what it was like when evacuations were ordered for Butte, Sutter, and Yuba Counties this last February.

Dispatchers Jenifer Honea and Trina Valeigh speak openly about their experience and what was going through their minds during the Oroville Dam Spillway Incident. Hear how first responders and this community came together and maintained operations during a stressful time. They will share how they managed to answer the incoming calls while at the same time having to relocate an entire dispatch center, which laid in the path of possible flood waters. Get tips on how to be better prepared in case you ever have to leave your home because of the threat of an imminent disaster. Find out the one thing you should do when you move into a new community. This episode offers valuable information for those thinking about starting a career as a dispatcher and is eye-opening for even the most seasoned dispatchers.

Links 

Oroville Spillway Incident Resource Page

Oroville Spillway Incident

Oroville Spillway Incident in Pictures

Photos

  1. Kimber the Butte County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Dog
  2. From Right to Left Butte County Sheriff’s Office Dispatchers Jennifer Honea, Trina Valeigh, Cal OES PIOs Monica Vargas and Robb Mayberry
  3. Oroville Dam

 

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Captain Pace Stokes Takes the Helm on the Ghost Ship Fire

September 19th, 2017

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Captain Pace Stokes, Alameda County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, sat down with Shawn Boyd at the Alameda County Emergency Operations Center in Dublin, California. Their recording session took place on day-1 of Urban Shield. For this year’s exercise Capt. Stokes was the deputy incident commander, where he said this was the first year that CERT was actively involved in the exercise and that there was a competitive element to their training. Capt. Stokes also talks about what helps him manage a large-scale training exercise like Urban Shield (there were 63 sites across five counties involved,) and about the ghost ship warehouse fire that killed 36 people on December 2, 2016 in Oakland.

Links

Alameda County Sheriff

Alameda County OES

Urban Shield

Cal OES Video Blog on Urban Shield and CERT

 

 

 

 

 

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Public Information Officers: Old Dogs, New Tricks

August 22nd, 2017

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Right to left: John Larimore, Shawn Boyd, Adria Wells, Monica Vargas

Press releases are starting to become a thing of the past, while podcasts, videos and infographics are becoming the future. Why? Information overload, smartphones and packed schedules (among many other reasons) is nudging traditional communications to adapt and change the way information is packaged and shared. Now don’t get it wrong, press releases have their place – but there is always room for change, especially when it comes to serving the public and providing information efficiently.     

In this episode, we chat with the Cal OES team about some of the new and improved ways of doing things as a team. Monica Vargas, Shawn Boyd, John Larimore, and Adria Wells share their experience, insight from the perspective of the PIO, graphic designer and videographer.  

Links

OES Newsroom

Cal OES Inside Look: Mutual Aid

Cal OES Quick Look: Early Earthquake Warning

We’re on Instagram!

More about Cal OES

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Pyrocumulus Clouds, The Six P’s and Safety on the Modoc July Complex Fire

August 8th, 2017

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Battalion Chief Dave Welch

Dave Welch is a 24 year veteran of the Rohnert Park Police Department (Department of Public Safety) and has been with Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District in Sonoma County where he’s currently a part time battalion chief. He’s serving as a Type I and Type II safety officer on the Modoc July Complex fire in Modoc County, California.

 

Links

Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District

Modoc July Complex on InciWeb

Levels and Types of ICS Management

 

Type 5: (very small wildland fire only)

• Initial attack

• Short duration, seldom lasting into the next burn period

• Few resources assigned (generally less than 6 people)

• Little complexity

Type 4

• Initial attack or first response to an incident

• IC is “hands on” leader and performs all functions of Operations, Logistics, Planning, and Finance

• Few resources are used (several individuals or a single strike team)

• Normally limited to one operational period

• Does not require a written Incident Action Plan (IAP)

• Examples: Search & Rescue (SAR), motor vehicle accidents, small fires

Type 3

• Extended initial attack on wildland fires

• IC walks the line between a manager and a 'doer'

• Resources may vary from several single resources to several task forces or strike teams

• Some Command/General Staff positions (ie, Division Supervisor, Unit Leader), may be filled

• May extend into another operational period (12 hours), and require an IAP

• Examples: Larger SAR’s, law enforcement incidents, special events, technical rescues, fires

Type 2

• IC spends all time being a manager

• Most Command and General staff positions are filled

• Large number of resources utilized

• Incident extends into multiple operational periods

• Base camp(s) established

• Significant logistical support is required

• Examples: Major fires, VIP visits, lengthy search and rescues, law enforcement incidents, multi-day special events

Type 1

• All functions are filled, plus leaders, branches etc.

• Multi-agency and national resources

• Large number of personnel and equipment are assigned to the incident

• It is a large, complex incident

• Examples: A major Incident—hurricanes, very large fires, natural disasters

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Large Scale Disaster Management with Bob Fenton (encore presentation)

July 18th, 2017

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Imagine this situation — the first time you visit New York City it just happens to be on 9/11. The second time you visit is during Hurricane Sandy, and the third time, would you even go back? The man we’re going to talk to today experienced that string of disasters and suddenly found himself leading the initial emergency response to those historical events. He’s a UC Davis alum and 5th generation San Franciscan.

Robert J. Fenton, Jr. was appointed Regional Administrator for FEMA Region IX in July 2015. Since joining FEMA in 1996, Mr. Fenton has played a significant role in numerous large-scale response and recovery operations in the U.S. and has responded to more than 50 Federal disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, the four Florida Hurricanes of 2004, the Southern California Wildfires of 2003 and 2007, the Super Typhoon Pongsona in Guam, and the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attacks.

Links

FEMA's Mobile App

Urban Search and Rescue 

FEMA Region IX: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, & the Pacific Islands

 

 

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Lake Tahoe’s Angora Fire Commemorated with 10 Year Anniversary

June 27th, 2017

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In this episode we travel to South Lake Tahoe to talk with Chief Tim Alameda of the Lake Valley Fire District. We caught up with him days before they commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Angora Fire.

According to an article in the Lake Tahoe News published September 13, 2016, "Alameda was a division chief and the fire marshal for North Tahoe Fire Protection District prior to joining the LVFD in 2016.

Alameda got his start as a firefighter reserve in Meyers in the 1980s. At that time is was a joint program between Lake Valley and South Lake Tahoe fire departments.

Starting in 1984 he spent 27 years with Reno Fire Department. He went from a rank and file firefighter to the chief.

In 2011, Alameda retired from Reno. North Tahoe recruited him to be a fire marshal. He took this job seriously – spending many a day walking around his jurisdiction, into businesses and talking to people. He was seeing where the hazards were, listened to concerns and helped educate people.

He rose to division chief and then took over Meeks Bay.

Those in the fire community call Alameda a true professional, forward thinker and good with personnel. Until the ink is dry, people were hesitant to go on the record about Alameda. The same goes for his current boss, Mike Schwartz.

Wildland fires are something Alameda is well aware of. He was president in 2015 of the Lake Tahoe Basin Fire Chief’s Association. The wildland urban interface is a constant issue for fire agencies when it comes to protecting the community from a blaze that starts in the forest.

While he didn’t lose a structure during the Angora Fire, a house he and his dad built on Boulder Mountain was destroyed.

Those 254 houses that burned in 2007 were part of that wildland urban interface.

As a kid, he spent many summer days fishing at Angora Lakes or hunting grouse in the area."

To read the entire article click here.

Links

Angora Fire Data

The Angora Fire 10 Years Later: What have we learned? Field Trip & Symposium

Angora Fire Lessons Learned

Angora Fire Restoration Project

 

 

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