EP 28 The 33rd American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Academy

33rd Annual Disaster Preparedness Academy, American Red Cross

EP 28 The 33rd American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Academy

Todd: Hi, this is Todd DeVoe with EM Weekly and I’m here at the 33rd Annual Disaster Preparedness Academy hosted by the Desert to The Sea Chapter of the American Red Cross.


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EM Weekly In the news.

A deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck nearby Mexico City last Tuesday, leaving over 300 dead and countless missing. The US Geological Survey predicts up to 1,000 fatalities in total and an economic impact of $1B to $10B as a result of the earthquake. The earthquake occurred southwest of Puebla and southeast of Mexico City at a depth of 51km.

Emergency crews from all over the world have been combing Mexico City in search of trapped survivors after buildings were demolished to rubble. The death toll is currently 315, which will likely grow as rescue workers evacuate more rubble. In addition, dozens of buildings have been demolished, pipelines broken and roads left impassable.

The magnitude 7.1 earthquake is currently the deadliest since 1985 and is the latest in a string of earthquakes to hit Mexico in recent months. A magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck southern Mexico earlier this month — the strongest earthquake to hit Mexico in over a century.

Most of the capital of Mexico remains powerless, as rescue workers with dogs search for survivors in offices, hospitals, schools, apartment buildings etc.

As if the earthquake wasn’t enough to handle, the earthquake was soon followed by an eruption of a volcano, located southeast of Mexico City. The volcano eruption caused a church to collapse during Mass at the foot of the mountain, killing 15 worshippers.

Mark Benthien, Director of Communications for Education Outreach at Southern California Earthquake Center at USC, stated —


“Mexico City geologically is situated on a former lakebed, this also means the city lies on top of a big bowl of unconsolidated sediment that exaggerates the effect of an earthquake. The vibrations or seismic waves from the hard shocks below are amplified by the soil and sediments above making the surface and structures built on them shake longer and more intensely. It’s being built on jelly on top of something that’s wobbly.”

In the world news here, a volcano on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali occurred as well. More than 35,000 people have fled a manacling volcano on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali, fearing it will erupt for the first time in more than half a century as increased tremors rattle the region. The numbers Sunday from disaster officials are more than double previous estimates and are continuing to rise. They say it includes people who left voluntarily as well as those told to evacuate from 9-12km, 6-8 mile-zone around the volcano.

Authorities raised the volcano’s alert status to the highest level on Friday following a tremendous increase in seismic activity. The last eruption 1963 killed 1,100 people. A senior cabinet member said Sunday that the district surrounding the volcano must be prepared for the worst. National Disaster Mitigation Agency has praised and welcomed response by local communities on Bali to the flood of evacuees. Thousands are living in temporary shelters, sports centers, village halls and/or with relatives and friends. Some returned to the danger zone but stayed only to tend to and look for livestock.

The National Disaster Mitigation agency spokesman said 14 tons of aid has been sent, including tents, blankets, mattresses and portable communications equipment. Officials said there is no current danger to the people in the other parts of Bali, a popular tourist island, famous for surfing, beaches, and the Hindu culture.

Communications to the Puerto Rican island has been sparse lately due to Hurricane Maria; however, one ham operator has been delivering messages from the battered Puerto Rican island to family members in New York.

So thanks to ham operator some of Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria survivors have been worried family and friends in the United States know that they made it through it.

Bob Myers, 74 one of the Long Islanders that are communicating with Puerto Rico — which was flattened Wednesday by the worst storms of the century — is using century old technology. The Puerto Rican ham operators relay brief messages and telephone numbers of people in the United States to their counterparts. “It’s a wonderful feeling when you make that call — you can almost see the smiles on their faces,” Myers said, the Vice President of the South Bay Amateur Radio Club.

We’re going to have more on the Puerto Rican issue in later episodes.


Todd: Hi, this is Todd DeVoe with EM Weekly and I’m here at the 33rd Annual Disaster Preparedness Academy hosted by the Desert to the Sea Chapter of the American Red Cross, formerly known as the Orange County Chapter.

Just take a moment here to listen to the sounds of the people that are here attending the academy and what they have to say about it.

Amy: Hi, my name’s Amy Estey, I’m the Regional Preparedness Manager for the American Red Cross serving Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino Counties. We’re here at the annual Disaster Preparedness Academy at the Anaheim Convention Center. It’s an annual event that we hold in the fall, each fall. It is just a wonderful preparedness event where we have a day of preparedness, mitigation and response strategies for the workplace.

So there’s over 24 different workshops, 3 general sessions speakers, 50 exhibitors. Just all kinds of resources, tools, incredibly knowledgeable presenters and information to give to workplaces, to individuals, to teachers, to the government. Where we all get to share in our solution and in our abilities to be able to come together and provide solutions when there are unplanned interruptions or disasters in our communities.

So it’s a great place, so check us out redcross.org/dpa

David: Hi I’m David Ono, with ABC7 Eyewitness News, Channel 7, here in southern California.

33rd Annual Disaster Preparedness Academy, American Red Cross

I had the opportunity to speak here in Anaheim to the Red Cross about three or four years ago about my experience within the disaster zone. So this is kind of an extension of that conversation where I’m bringing in the newer disasters that we have covered. And this has been the summer of disaster, which is rather incredible, with the storms and now the earthquakes that we’re dealing with.

But most importantly I take some of these disasters both recent and historic and we examine them. We talk about the good things and the bad things and the lessons that we can take away from those disasters. For instance, Katrina was a catastrophe in so many ways. We did as a government so many things wrong with Katrina, but we’ve really improved how we handle these mass disasters because of what happened at Katrina.

I also take you into Japan and we talk about their 9.0 earthquake and their tsunami and the mistakes that the Japanese government made both before and after that kind of magnified the problems. But also the wonderful parts of how Japan handled that disaster which truly probably is the biggest disaster in human history, yet, 18,000 were killed. And that sounds horrible, but you compare that to Haiti, which was only a 7.0 earthquake and 300,000 were killed.

So we examine those things and take away some really valuable lessons as we go into the future. Or even recently, when we saw Hurricane Irma — one of the most powerful Hurricanes we’ve ever seen — we had over 6 million people heed the warning from the government to evacuate the area of Miami and southern Florida. That’s unprecedented. Because in the old days, nobody would leave.

So that’s that many more people that are out of harm’s way, that rescuers don’t have to worry about and that’s vitally important. Because you’re never going to get a whole community to evacuate. But it’s good to get as many people out as possible, so you concentrate on the few that are left there.

So I think these lessons are great to know. This knowledge is very important going forward because every disaster we learn a new thing about mother nature, a new thing about how people handled it. We try to keep the good and get rid of the bad and improve on it.

I think the media outside of the actual people working the disaster, I think the media is the most important role, along with the local government. Because we’re the ones that get the message out there and we also can tell the story of why this is important. And you have to convince people that this is dire, that this is powerful, that this is unprecedented for them to pay attention. If we just said — “oh another storm’s blowing in, we recommend that you get out of the way,” I mean that doesn’t tell it dynamically enough to convince anybody to do anything.

So when it comes to delivering a mass message the media is the most important part and role in that. And so the better we do in taking that role on, the safer the community is.

One interesting thing that I am pointing out, I give a little history lesson today. And I go back to 1961 and I show a very young Dan Rather, who ended up being CBS Evening News number one anchor for many years and he was a very famous journalist. But he became famous as just a little cub reporter in the Houston area, the same area that got hit with Harvey this year. In 1961 he is the first person to actually broadcast from the National Weather Service, which it seems like a no-brainer today but nobody ever did it before.

Todd: Really?

David: So then he’s also the first person who took a radar screen… and back then they would just show the big storm, but not in relation to the land mass. And he superimposed the land mass of the Texas coast to show how big the storm was and how close it was and where it was going to hit. That’s what convinced hundreds and thousands of people to evacuate and at the time it became the biggest mass evacuation in the US history because Dan Rather got this bright idea to show the storm, but in relation to the Texas coast.

So the media does play… From then on the media’s always played a vital role in reporting on disasters and impending disasters.

Todd: That’s one of the things I always say to people in emergency management field is that we need to have a good relationship with our media partners, because they really are a disaster partner, just like any other organization.

David: Relationships are so important, because if we trust each other and we get along with each other, then we can better plan for the future as well. If I know what your goal is and you know what my goal is, we find plans and ways to way together and make that goal bigger and better and we both can reach our goals by working together. So yes, that’s super important.

Mark: I’m Mark Benthien with the Southern California Earthquake Center, also lead the Great ShakeOut Earthquake drills worldwide. You know when we see earthquakes around the world like in Mexico, everybody thinks — what should I do during an earthquake, how do I get more prepared, how do you participate in ShakeOut each year? Coming up in October of course. What to do — drop, cover, hold on — etc. Practice that, it’s so important.

So one of the things that we’ve seen as needed is people to really understand what goes on during an earthquake and the role that people can play in helping each other. So we’ve been working on creating a film called “Quake Heroes” that tells the stories of people that experienced the Northridge earthquake, that helped their neighbors, first responders, scientists and others who went into action to make a difference for their neighbors, for the community, for the region.

We’ve been working on this for a couple of years now. Here at the Disaster Preparedness Academy, we had a screening for feedback from the community. It’s still in the works, it’s going to be coming out in Spring and Summer of 2018.

Todd: Cool.

Mark: And the earliest design for leading up to ShakeOut where there will be a tool for high schools and middle schools students with lesson plans to learn about earthquakes, to learn about preparedness, to maybe even join Team CERT Programs.

Todd: That’s awesome. So this video when it comes out and goes live if you are not in California, say you’re in Alaska, will it still be good for that?

Mark: Sure. Yes, it’s going to be a national focus. So while it’s talking about the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and Los Angeles area, we really intend it to be that’s just an example of what happens during earthquakes and really disasters in general.

So the idea that you might be the help until help arrives, that is the neighbor first responder. And the type of training that would make a difference, the things you need to do to get prepared really apply to any disaster.

Tony: My name’s Tony Hager and I do Safety and Risk Management for Charter School District. As far as the Disaster Preparedness Academy goes the information has been very in depth. The video that we just watched, “Quake Heroes” that was very relevant, with stuff that has happened, stuff that could happen, that’s going to happen in the future. I believe that information provided for preparing is great and really look forward for this video to come out in order to help show other employees and other people in the school districts that information is out there and being better prepared whenever the disaster does happen.

Sean: Hi, my name’s Sean Ward. I’m the Senior Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross in the Desert to the Sea Region, which is Orange County, Riverside, and San Bernardino County. We’re here today at the 33rd Annual Disaster Preparedness Academy. It’s a chance for the community and businesses and government to get together, learn about preparedness in all different forms. We have exhibitors here from many different companies and it’s a great chance for us all to get together, to network and to learn about preparedness.

Today I think we have over 600 at the event. It’s a good number for us. It’s about average for this. We average about 600 or so a year. It has been interesting to see the uptick in people signing up in the last two weeks, because of the events that are going on. We were a little worried because this academy is a lot of professionals and emergency management, that a lot of them would be deployed to Texas, Florida, Virgin Islands. But we have seen a surge of attendance in the last couple of weeks, people that are watching the news and saying, hey you know I think I need to do something to be more prepared.

Kelly: My name’s Kelly Lewis. I’m with the California Earthquake Authority. We are here at the preparedness event today in regards to the 100th anniversary, which is super cool for the Red Cross.

We are talking to people about earthquake insurance, how they are able to obtain a policy. Obviously, we live in earthquake country and now that we are of course in Southern California today there has been a lot of talk about earthquakes happening here and in Mexico City. So letting people know how they can obtain a policy through their insurance agent because it’s a separate policy from what you have for your Homeowners Insurance.

We’re also talking to people about the Great ShakeOut which is coming in a couple weeks. So are people ready, do they know how to properly drop, cover and hold on? And also going over stuff about checklists, preparedness stuff. We also have our California Hazfaults website up which shows people the different fault lines and they can put in their zip code or where we are at this exact location right now — geo-target that — to see what earthquakes have been happening and what their movement’s been doing. Just to kind of bring that preparedness to people and showing them that.

We have been coming to this event now for the last two or three years and we absolutely love it. We appreciate what everyone does and we love the feedback that people get and the conversations we have with people as we are in Southern California talking about earthquakes with everyone.

Jeff: Good afternoon my name is Jeff Morin, Director of External Affairs with AT&T and we’re proud supporters of this event for the Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Academy this year in 2017. We’re not only a sponsor but have the ability to come in this year and present on our network disaster recovery program and team and support the Red Cross in these efforts.

Justin: Hi, my name’s Justin Mammen. I am the Security and Emergency Manager for the Orange County Superior Court. Today I am here at the Disaster Preparedness Academy just to network with other emergency managers, learn new tips and tools of the trade as we prepare our courthouses and make them more resilient. Always a great program. Been coming here for several years now. Food’s always great. Different speakers. Yes, it’s a good program.

Ronan: Hi my name’s Ronan Keldron. I’m the Disaster Program Manager for the Riverside Chapter of American Red Cross. And I’m here today assisting with our DPA event. What it means is bringing the community together, showing an awareness of what the Red Cross is all about and bringing our partners in the communities together in case we have a major disaster in the outlying areas of Southern California, nationwide.

Dan: Dan Parke, I’m with Rex EMS. We’ve come five years. We understand that they need to have an education on ways to get people to safety quickly in the event of a disaster. Our product, the Rex — that’s what it was made for. What it does it allows you to have single responder to get an injured person to safety quicker — it replaces a stretcher where there are two or four people needed. It allows you get in and out of nooks and crannies. With all the disasters that are going on today, they need awareness and the product’s new. If you look back to World War I since the stretcher was first used, that’s still what’s being used now to get people. And when you have four to six people back injuries happen, it’s hard to get… And our product allows you to get one person moving people twice as fast with half as many people.

Eileen: Hi, so my name’s Eileen. I’m right now the exhibitor for the American Red Cross Orange County Chapter. So right now what we have in this walk-in museum essentially is just billboards of different pictures and exhibits of what the history of Red Cross. So we have the Anaheim House which is where the Red Cross Orange County Chapter first started in. We just had several uniforms where Red Cross workers and volunteers would wear, so what they were during World War I, World War II and how they would help other civilians essentially.

Then in this booth we have a billboard that’s dedicated to Clara Barton who as you know is the founder of Red Cross, we just have her image and then we have just background history on her. We have first aid textbook, so this is a textbook that I cannot even access, but I’m pretty sure has some pretty neat information in there, yes.

Todd: That’s cool and I saw the magazine over here. Is that a real magazine from 1917?

Eileen: That is. I’m not… That is a real magazine. So, yes it was a Red Cross Magazine. I don’t know what’s in it since my supervisor told me not to touch it, but yes it is a real Red Cross magazine.

Todd: And just to describe the magazine, it says — “Red Cross, The Magazine,” it’s a photograph or a drawing I should say of a nurse and she’s holding the hands of a sailor and a soldier from World War I era and it’s really impressive stuff here.

Well, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate you being here.

Eileen: Thank you so much, Todd. I enjoyed interviewing with you.

Todd: Everybody thanks you so much for taking time to listen to this special podcast for the American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Academy hosted by the Desert to the Sea Chapter. When you have a chance can you please go to the iTunes and tell us how much you like us and share this with your friends and family and everybody else who’d be interested in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management. Thank you very much and we’ll see you at the next one.

Todd: Hi this is Todd DeVoe from EM Weekly. If your company is in the Emergency Management and Response space, EM Weekly is the place for you to advertise. Each week we bring in experts in Emergency Management Response and leadership from around the world and they’re here to share their best practices. Our listeners are eager to learn about new products and ideas, so this is the space for you. For more information please contact Brian at brian@emweekly.com.

Show Notes

To contact DPA organizers, please email RedCrossDPA@redcross.org or call (714) 481-5341


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