Bringing Order to Chaos for 9/11, Katrina and Sandy

October 4th, 2016

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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.
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Links

FEMA's Mobile App

https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app

Urban Search and Rescue

https://www.fema.gov/urban-search-rescue

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From WWII to the Northridge Earthquake: Retired LA Battalion Chief Remembers Moments of His Storied Career

September 20th, 2016

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Retired Los Angeles City Fire Battalion Chief Larry Schneider's long and storied career began during World War II. He didn't retire until 2007, just shy of his 80th birthday; he says he could have performed his job well for another five years but felt it was time for him to settle down.

We met Mr. Schneider at his home in the hills of LA and spent a wonderful afternoon talking with him about everything from the early days of his career to the Northridge Earthquake.  Take some time to listen to his stories and then check out the links below for some really great photos from his past.


Click here for the story of how Larry Schneider's life was saved, and the great photos of the scene and his hero afterward.



Click here for historical photos of Schneider and his station.


Photo: Photos:Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Archive


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Managing Disasters In California’s Coastal Region

September 6th, 2016

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In this episode Cal OES Coastal Region Administrator talks about the merging of data science and technology and how emergency managers and responders get surprisingly effective help from free phone apps. She also talks about how the state was able to reduce the financial impacts of the Napa quake and keep the important wine industry flowing. Plus, she candidly discusses her way of handling emotionally draining disasters such as the San Diego Fire Siege of 2007 and the San Mateo Floods in 2015, and how she's able to face angry citizens when they accuse government of not doing enough for them in times of crisis. 


Jodi Traversaro has worked for the State for more than 20 years. Traversaro came to Cal OES from the California Department of Human Resources, where she oversaw training and performance management. She worked for Cal OES from 2005 to 2008 where she served as the Director of the California Specialized Training Institute, led the Public Information Office during the response and recovery for the 2007 Southern California Wildfires, Chief of the Legislative Affairs Office and served as an Executive Duty Officer.


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Manage a Disaster Without a Playbook

August 23rd, 2016

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In this episode we sit down with Andrew Lockman, Tulare County Emergency Manager. Lockman has been on the front line in the drought battle, with California now enduring its 5th year. Tulare County, specifically the town of East Porterville, is considered the epicenter of this natural disaster; it's where several thousand people have been without drinking water in their homes because their wells went dry. Emergency officials from the county and state, as well as non-governmental and volunteer organizations and individuals, have all been working to bring relief and solutions as quickly as possible. But it wasn't until things got to this point that it was recognized as a disaster; it slowly sneaked up on everyone. And droughts weren't in disaster plans so emergency managers had to wing it; they had no playbook to which they could refer. Lockman tells about the incredible challenges he and others faced to help the residents now, and the lessons learned and changes being made for future droughts. 

Drought Resources

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

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Saving Fire Stations, Lives and Guitars After the Northridge Earthquake: Fire Chief Jim Hone

August 9th, 2016

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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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Mona Lisa Bontty - A Comforting Smile Behind Disaster Response in SoCal

July 26th, 2016

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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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Overcoming Major Medical Challenges at Stadium Shelter for 2007 San Diego Fire Siege

July 12th, 2016

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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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The Erskine Fire: Beyond the Lines

June 28th, 2016

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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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Chargers’ Stadium Became Home to Thousands of Fire Evacuees

June 14th, 2016

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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 Haleva: The Dude & The Dictator

May 31st, 2016

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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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California’s Search and Rescue Top Cop

May 17th, 2016

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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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Easter Quake Took Lives, Rattled Nerves, Challenged New Fire Chief

May 3rd, 2016

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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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Sheriff James Mele: Big Role in a Small County

April 26th, 2016

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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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Oklahoma City Bombing: California Sent its Best to Midwest Terror Response

April 19th, 2016

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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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Eric Lamoureux: Managing Disasters Face to Face

April 5th, 2016

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Eric Lamoureux has served the State of California in multiple communications assignments.  He’s served in his current position of Inland Region Administrator at the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) since August, 2013. As administrator he leads emergency and disaster response coordination efforts for the State of California. From November 1999 through September 2007, Eric worked his first stint for Cal OES where he served as chief of the department’s Office of Public Information.  He was responsible for managing the state’s Emergency Public Information (EPI) system, directing the activities of the State’s Joint Information Center, and was California’s lead emergency services spokesperson. Mr. Lamoureux coordinated State EPI efforts following 9/11 andmanaged the State’s Y2K Joint Information Center.

Mr. Lamoureux began his career in 1993 with the California Integrated Waste Management Board where he handled media relations activities, managed three successful statewide environmental education campaigns, and edited the agency’s award-winning “Waste Watcher” newsletter.

Mr. Lamoureux studied Government-Journalism at California State University, Sacramento, and Journalism at American River College in Sacramento.

The Inland Region consists of primarily rural jurisdictions with 123 incorporated cities ranging in population from approximately 200 to 500,000.  The total population of all cities and counties in the Inland Region is 7,181,010.  Its geography is vast and varied with terrain consisting of valley floor agricultural centers, grasslands, watershed areas, high desert regions, foothill regions and into the mountain range areas. Along with such diverse terrain, each area presents its own unique set of challenges and threats that affect California.

For more information on the Inland Region, along with the other state regions, their maps and more, click on this link:

http://www.caloes.ca.gov/cal-oes-divisions/regional-operations/inland-region

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A Shot in the Sun: Jerry Sanders Orders Sniper to Take Out Shooter in McDonald’s Massacre

March 23rd, 2016

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 The premiere episode of the All Hazards Podcast features an interview with retired San Diego SWAT Commander Jerry Sanders.  He recalls the day his pager went off on July 18, 1984 when more than 40 people were injured or killed in the McDonald’s massacre perpetrated by 41-year-old James Huberty.

Sanders and his contingent of police officers were up against a number of challenges when deciding tactics including poor visibility due to the sun and windows that had been “spidered” by gun shots, an unknown number of shooters inside the restaurant, and the unknown location and number of hostages.

Sanders considers the massacre one of the most challenging days of his career and one of the darkest in the history of San Diego.  Despite that, many lessons were learned that changed the way police handle similar situations there and in departments nationwide.

 

 

Links/Resources


San Diego PD
http://www.sandiego.gov/police/services/units/
Lessons by the Decades: The lessons learned during this incident are still powerful and relevant today.

LawOfficer.com
San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
http://sdchamber.org/about/team/

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