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In this episode retired Santa Monica fire chief Jim Hone reflects on the Northridge Earthquake and the challenges that kept hitting them, one after another. Whether it was the need to evacuate a major hospital, an incident command that had no power, major delays in mutual aid, or his own fire station that was on the verge of burning down, Hone and others kept their eye on the ball in order to stay in front of it. 

Hone joined the Santa Monica Fire Department in January of 1980, and served as chief beginning in 2003 until he retired in 2010.

Prior to serving as fire chief, Hone worked as a firefighter and paramedic, fire captain, chief of the Support Services Division and fire marshal. During his career he responded to six federal disasters to help locals and coordinate FEMA USAR resources including the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center attacks in New York City on September 11th, 2001.

Notable projects he worked on include the replacement Fire Station 2, and the development of the Urban Search and Rescue and Hazardous Materials Response Teams. Hone served six years in the U.S. Air Force as a fire protection crash rescue specialist before joining the SMFD.
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In this episode (#11) we sit down with Mona Lisa Bontty. She serves as the Southern Regional Administrator, which includes managing emergency management and response operations in a region that spans 11 counties, nearly 65,000 miles and serves a population of over 21,000,000 residents.

Mona talks about the challenges of managing emergency response in a region as large and diverse as hers. She also talks candidly about her unique ability to relate to citizens with Access and Functional Needs due to her own AFN connection.

Since her appointment as Regional Administrator in August 2013, Mona has overseen response to various emergencies including fires, earthquakes, floods, drought, a terrorist attack, oil spills and wind events.

Mona has over 24 years of experience in state service including positions with various leadership roles in environmental mitigation and remediation of hazardous cleanup sites, community engagement and leading strategic planning for operational initiatives. She is a certified Emergency Manager with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management and a UCLA undergraduate degree in Psychology. 

Related Links:
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More than 350,000 households were evacuated at the height of the siege, meaning the evacuation could have included more than 900,000 people. Qualcomm Stadium, home of the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, became the evacuation center for thousands of people. It was a brilliant move but not without its many challenges, including how to treat the many who suffered from health and medical problems.  

Dr. James Dunford was the chief medical doctor there, the medical incident commander if you will, and his job was to manage both patients and staff and the makeshift hospital established inside Qualcomm Stadium. In this podcast, he talks about how the tremendous community response aided in the overall success of patient treatment, including pharmacy cooperation, voluntary medical staff, and the success of ICS/HICS. 

Watch the interview here:

Links/Resources

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ErskineFirePeople_1_.jpgAs of this publishing, crews continue to get a handle on the Erskine Fire in the Lake Isabella area of Kern County. 
But as they do there are still concerns and challenges facing them -- hot, dry and windy weather; difficult terrain; safety for everyone involved including the public; and much more. At this point the response phase of the attack is slowly gearing down, and the recovery phase is gearing up. 

Members of the Cal OES public information team were on the ground talking with leaders of the Kern County Fire Department, as well as Kern County Environmental Health about what they're seeing and what may lay ahead down that long road to recovery.  Chief Information Officer Brad Alexander hosts this edition of the All Hazards podcast.

LINKS

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Qualcomm.jpgIn late October 2007, Southern California experienced an unusually severe fire weather event characterized by intense, dry, gusty Santa Ana winds. This weather event drove a series of destructive wildfires that took a devastating toll on people, property, natural resources, and infrastructure. During this siege, 17 people lost their lives, 10 were killed by the fires outright, three were killed while evacuating, and 140 firefighters and an unknown number of civilians were injured. A total of 3,069 homes and other buildings were destroyed, and hundreds more were damaged. 

More than 350,000 households were evacuated at the height of the siege, meaning the evacuation could have included more than 900,000 people. Bob Kanaski was put in charge of the evacuation center at Qualcomm Stadium, home of the NFL’s San Diego Chargers. It was a brilliant move but not without its many challenges. Mr. Kanaski talks about those and how he and his team were able to meet them head-on and win.

Links/Resources

Take a look at the video version of this podcast here:

Read the complete Cal FIRE report on the 2007 California Fire Siege:
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Jerry was born Jerome Michael Haleva in May of 1946. He served as chief of staff for Senator Bill Campbell (namesake for the Cal OES HQ building) from 1975-1990.  But he’s more recognizable as an actor in his comedic roles as Saddam Hussein, especially due to his resemblance to the now deceased Iraqi dictator.  He says he’s a “rock star” among "Achievers," fans of the movie "The Big Lebowski," taking his place at the autograph table at annual Lebowski Fests alongside The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges, as well as John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Julianne Moore and many other actors from the film. 

To date (May 2003) his every credited acting role has been that of Saddam Hussein. (Source: IMDB)
He is currently a contract lobbyist (Sergeant Major Associates) and lives in Sacramento, California. 






Filmography (Source: IMDB)
2002 Live from Baghdad (TV Movie) ; Saddam Hussein
2002 The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest; Hologram Saddam (as Jerry M. Haleva)
1998 Jane Austen's Mafia!; Saddam Hussein
1998 The Big Lebowski; Saddam Hussein
1993 Hot Shots! Part Deux; Saddam Hussein
1991 Hot Shots!; Saddam Hussein (as Jerry Halera)
2009 The Achievers: The Story of the Lebowski Fans (Documentary) Saddam Hussein / Himself

Links/Resources
http://sgtmaj.com/
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0355062/
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Matt Scharper is a Deputy Chief with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services - Law Enforcement Branch and is the California State Search and Rescue Coordinator.  Matt is headquartered out of the Region V office, located in Fresno, CA and is also the Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Coordinator for Region V.  


In this episode Scharper takes pride in lives saved over his 30+ years with SAR, and talks about one of the most recent rescues and how it nearly turned into a recovery mission. He also talks about how inexperienced outdoor enthusiasts put too much reliance on Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs and SEND) which unnecessarily puts other lives at risk. And there's the technology and military mutual aid that has made night SAR missions possible. 


Sharper is a recognized expert in the field of Search and Rescue, he spent 13 years as the Search and Rescue Unit Coordinator for the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Department and has over 34 years of combined search and rescue experience.   He has coordinated literally hundreds of searches, rescues, and large and small-scale disasters.  A previous college instructor for search and rescue topics of: Search Management and Tactics, Technical Rope Rescue, Swift water Rescue, Man Tracking, and Law Enforcement Incident Command Systems along with other Law Enforcement topics.  He is the lead instructor for the Cal EMA Search and Rescue Instruction Program, instructing the “Direction and Control of the Search Function Course” and the “Winter Operations SAR Management Course” and is responsible for all State of California SAR programs.  Matt’s 30 year law enforcement career has earned him California’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certificates of “Advanced, Supervisory, and Management”. 

The Law Enforcement Branch is responsible for coordinating state mutual aid for search and rescue in California. In addition, it receives and coordinates interstate requests under the auspices of the National Search and Rescue Plan. The branch also coordinates all local requests for state and Federal agency assistance. Because search and rescue missions are often life threatening, requests for out-of-county, state or Federal resources can be made directly to CalOES.   

 

 

Links/Resources 

Search and Rescue Mutual Aid 

3rd Battalion 140th Aviation Battalion Security and Support 

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At 3:40 in the afternoon on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010, the Baja California earthquake struck, registering a 7.2 magnitude on the moment magnitude scale. It's epicenter was 16 miles south of Guadalupe Victoria, Baja California, Mexico. It's said to have lasted about a minute and a half. The strongest shaking was felt in the ejido of Alberto Oviedo Mota, in the municipality of Mexicali, Calexico, and Guadalupe Victoria. Most of the damage in this earthquake occurred in the twin cities of Mexicali and Calexico on the Mexico–United States border. Four people were killed and 100 people were injured.

Imperial County, California, immediately activated its emergency operations center while first responders rolled into action. Leading the charge was the relatively new fire chief Tony Rouhotas, Jr.; he was also the OES coordinator. Chief Rouhotas was suddenly facing the kind of situation he'd never dealt with before -- a large earthquake that damaged buildings and injured people both in his county as well as in his neighboring Mexicali. Despite being south of the border his agency had an international agreement with them to provide mutual aid. The challenges he faced and the decisions he had to make were immense but he stepped up to the plate and swung for the fences. What he learned during and after that disaster paid dividends for him, and it can for you too. Take a listen. 



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James Mele was elected as Tuolumne County Sheriff in 2006. He comes from a family of law enforcement professionals. His father spent 35 years with the LAPD. Mele is says while he’s a sheriff in a small county he still often finds himself in meetings with the governor, US senators and representatives and other high-powered officials. Early on he struggled finding his “self” but took a proactive approach to fixing that. He also says his ego sometimes got in the way of success, as it does with many people. One of the challenging times during his time as sheriff has been managing law enforcement personnel during the Rim Fire; the biggest causes were radio limitations and interoperability. He says as a leader you need to know that you can’t do it all yourself; you need partners and his during the Rim Fire his was Cal OES and its MIGU.

 

Links/Resources

http://www.tuolumnecounty.ca.gov/index.aspx?NID=341

USC Price School Leadership Programs

USC Price School in Sacramento

2014 California Mobile Command CenterRally a Success in Sacramento (Topic: MIGU)

 

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On April 19, 1995, a yellow moving truck parked in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building; at 9:02 AM, it exploded. The death and devastation it left in its wake was like nothing ever seen in the U.S. The blast killed 168 people and injured more than 600 others; it destroyed half of the building that was full of employees. The enormous and dangerous rescue and recovery operation began immediately and Oklahoma officials called on California for help. Mark Ghilarducci and Kim Zagaris were dispatched to the scene because of their urban search and rescue and disaster response expertise. Unbeknownst to Ghilarducci, he would soon be assigned as commander of the management team, for an operation bigger and more complex than anything he’d ever encountered.


Mark Ghilarducci, Cal OES Director

​Mark S. Ghilarducci serves as the Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), appointed July 1, 2013 by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. Ghilarducci previously served as Secretary of the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) appointed in February 2012by Governor Brown.  As a member of the Cabinet, Director Ghilarducci serves as the Governor’s Homeland Security Advisor (HSA) and oversees statewide public safety, emergency management, emergency communications, counter-terrorism efforts and the State Threat Assessment System (STAS).

 

Kim Zagaris, State Fire & Rescue Chief

Kim Zagaris serves as the Executive Coordinator for Cal OES Fire and Rescue Services Advisory Committee/FIRESCOPE Board of Directors. Chief Zagaris is responsible for managing the FIRESCOPE Program, California Incident Command Certification System, the California Fire Assistance Agreement, State Assistance for Fire Equipment Program, as well as, serve on numerous state and national committees,associations and programs, including Cal OES representation on the California State Strategic Committee on Terrorism, the California Wildfire Coordination Group and more. He joined Cal OES in 1987.

Links / Resources

Stronger in the Broken Places: Nine Lessons for Turning Crisis into Triumph by James Lee Witt

Terror Hits Home: The Oklahoma City Bombing

Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

For more on Mark Ghilarducci, click here

For more on the Cal OES Fire & Rescue Division, click here

Photos by: Fire Chief Kim Zagaris

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