On-Scene with Woolsey and Hill Fires Incident Commander Kendra Bowyer; Debris Removal Progress

March 5th, 2019

Kendra Bowyer is the Incident Commander for the Woolsey and Hill Fire debris removal operations in Southern California. She has served in many other capacities in nearly a dozen previous debris Removal operations for the state of California since 2015.

Kendra Bower was hired as an Emergency Services Coordinator with CalOES in early 2018 following six years of emergency management in the private sector. She specializes in recovery and wildfire debris removal. Kendra loves the work she does because she feels that this is a way to truly give back to society, by helping those in need at a most crucial time in their lives. As a young adult, Kendra lost her childhood home in a tornado so, needless to say,  her passion and love for this work is directly influenced by her personal experience.

Links

Nearly 120 Properties Cleared of Woolsey, Hill Fire Debris

For more information in Los Angeles County, visit lacounty.gov/LACountyRecovers or call 1-626-979-5370.  For more information in Ventura County, visit www.venturacountyrecovers.org or call 1-805-504-7869.

 

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

September 20th, 2016


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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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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Chargers’ Stadium Became Home to Thousands of Fire Evacuees

June 14th, 2016

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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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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