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In light of the reality of Hurricane Katrina and the literal collapse of emergency management services during the initial stages, it is certainly understandable for our communities to be concerned about their own welfare. In Shasta County, we have the following emergency management structure:
Management Director: Sheriff Tom Bosenko
Management Deputy Director: Fire Warden Kyle
Services Coordinator: Lt. Mark Lillibridge
The Emergency Management Council, which supports the Director of Emergency Services, consists of the following additional members:
- Chairman of the Board of Supervisors
- County Chief Executive Officer
- County Public Health Officer
- County Director of Environmental Health
- County Director of Social Services
- County Director of Public Works
Additional county departments and community organizations are drawn on as resources on a routine basis, to include: Mental Health, the Agricultural Commissioner, Red Cross, Salvation Army, and representatives of affected local jurisdictions.
Shasta County has extensive Emergency Operations Plan. It is not a "how to manual" , but a "resource" guide to ensure optimum flexibility during unanticipated or anticipated local emergencies. Emergency services preparedness is the ability to manage crisis, not try to foresee every eventuality, to identify the various resources that are available to us to meet any eventuality, whether it be natural or manmade.
Shasta County is very fortunate to have an incredibly skillful Emergency Services Overhead Team that utilizes the Incident Command System (I.C.S.). We have safely coordinated a large variety of incidents: The Cantara Spill, winter floods, rolling blackouts, and devastating fires (Fountain Fire, Lakehead, two Jones Valley fires, Happy Valley and French Gulch).
Please join me in remembering those affected by the recent national tragedy and take this opportunity to look at our own readiness. The key here is: Don't depend on government to assume responsibility for your disaster preparedness. Be prepared!
County authority, powers, duties, etc., are defined in County Ordinance chapter 2.72 and Government Code section 8630-8634, and sections 26620-26624.
Additional articles will address: Personal, home, workplace, school, and community emergency preparedness; public health; social services; environmental health; evacuation; and home security issues.
Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. The best way for families to work through a disaster is by preparing in advance and working together as a team.
Find out what could happen to you:
- Ask what types of disasters are most likely to happen. Request information on how to prepare for each.
- Learn about your community's warning signals: what they sound like and what you should do when your hear them.
- Ask about animal care after disaster. Animals may not be allowed inside emergency shelters due to health regulations.
- Find out how to help elderly or disabled persons, if needed.
- Next, find out about the disaster plans at your workplace, your children's school or daycare center and other places where your family spends time.
Create a disaster plan
- Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.
- Pick two places to meet: 1) Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire, 2) Outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home. Everyone must know the address and phone number.
- Ask an out-of-state friend to be your "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Other family members should call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your contact's phone number.
- Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your pets.
Complete this checklist
- Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.)
- Teach children how and when to call 911 or your local Emergency Medical Services number for emergency help.
- Show each family member how and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches.
- Check if you have adequate insurance.
- Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type), and show them where it's kept.
- Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
- Conduct a home hazard hunt
- Stock emergency supplies and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit.
- Take a Red Cross fist aid and CPR class
- Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.
- Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.
Practice and maintain your plan
- Quiz your kids every six months so they remember what to do
- Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills
- Replace stored water every three months and stored food every six months.
- Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer's instructions.
- Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
If disaster strikes
- Remain calm and be patient
- Follow the advice of local emergency officials
- Listen to your radio or television for news and instructions
- If the disaster occurs near you, check for injuries. Give first aid and get help for seriously injured people
- If the disaster occurs near your home while you are there, check for damage using a flashlight. Do not light matches or candles or turn on electrical switches. Check for fires, fire hazards and other household hazards. Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows, and get everyone outside quickly.
- Shut off any other damaged utilities
- Confine or secure your pets
- Call your family contact - do not use the telephone again unless it is a life-threatening emergency
- Check on your neighbors, especially those living alone, elderly or disabled.
- If local authorities ask you to leave your home, they have a good reason to make this request and you should heed the advice immediately.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and sturdy shoes so you can be protected as much as possible
- Take your disaster supplies kit
- Take your pets with you, do not leave them behind. Because pets are not permitted in public shelters, follow your plan to go to a relative's or friend's home, or find a ""pet-friendly" " hotel.
- Lock your home
- Use travel routes specified by local authorities - don't use shortcuts
- Stay away from downed power lines.