Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training
CERT is a 20-hour FEMA training program that is promoted at the state level utilizing local program managers at no charge to participants. The WRA is a member of the Santa Barbara County Executive CERT Committee and already approved for a 2019 class. I am suggesting that the WRA sponsor one complete CERT program to be held locally that would include as part of the sanctioned program a fire evacuation drill. The program would include instructors from Santa Barbara County Fire, Santa Barbara City Fire, City of Goleta, UCSB and City of Carpinteria. Our graduates would also participate in the county wide drill later in the year.
Community Education and Outreach
Phil Seymour is the WRA CWPP Committee representative. His recommendation, based on Page 179 of the CWPP, is for the WRA to proceed with the development of an ongoing educational program for all area residents on structure hardening and maintenance of defensible space. This would be in cooperation with the Santa Barbra County Fire Department and supplement the statewide program, “Ready! Set! Go!” The elements of this outreach would include:
- Update wildlandresidents.org to include comprehensive and current information on home vulnerability analysis, structure hardening options, defensible space requirements, evacuation planning and preparedness, local emergency plans, and contact information for further inquiries.
- Develop a “newcomer” style outreach program for new area residents that would include written information and face-to-face contact by experienced residents or firefighters regarding fire danger, evacuation planning, defensible space maintenance and structure hardening options. This program would encourage new residents to sign up for emergency alerts.
- Update the WRA 20 Weeks to Preparedness booklet list of supplies and publish updated local information sheets and pamphlets for distribution at community events, on wildlandresidents.org or upon specific requests.
- The WRA should sponsor an annual preparedness workshop for the entire San Marcos Pass community with subjects including long-term fire weather forecasts, updates on fuel management, evacuation, local firefighting, available assistance for structure hardening, chipping program and defensible space.
- Establish a speaker list of qualified local representatives from fire agencies and the scientific community to speak at events regarding wildfire safety issues, structure hardening and fuel management planning.
Currently, evacuation planning is minimal – perhaps more reactionary than planned – at the county and local community level. Historically, the county has utilized telephonic notifications coupled with door-to-door contacts by Search and Rescue and/or sheriff’s deputies. These efforts have been enhanced by the WRA utilizing the “San Marcos Pass Emergency Radio Systems” (SMPERS AM-1040) and our website: wildlandresidents.org. Massive ember showers with ensuing spot fires and people becoming trapped in their vehicles are real threats of profound importance that we as a community need to address. I would like to propose a WRA sponsored community workshop to develop a more formal evacuation plan that
includes how to help disabled and medically assisted individuals, children and animal care.
Evacuation and Safety Zones
The CWPP addresses the need for safety zones and assistance for those potentially trapped or that cannot evacuate safely. Locations need to be identified and proper authorization obtained to use them. This effort needs to include a drill to ensure that everyone knows what is involved in reaching them in a timely manner. This would be modeled after the yearly drills conducted at Hollister Ranch. I would also like to obtain grant funding or private donation(s) for a passenger van that could be used to assist in evacuations and during prolonged closures, to transportation of residents to and from their homes to pick-up medications and check on personal assets. This vehicle could also be utilized by our mitigation teams and for
local firefighter support.
Emergency and Public Information Communications
The WRA has established a formal communications group (KI6HFQ) under the supervision of Trustee Phil Brittain. We have signed a formal Agreement with the local Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) teams within Santa Barbara County to provide mutual aid assistance as may be required. The intent is to provide reliable, local and updated information during an emergency. We need to explore how to best utilize these resources and how to deploy the necessary assets effectively and efficiently.
Under the leadership of Yesi Thomas and with significant support from FLIR, the WRA has developed a formal Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV or “Drone”) program. The primary objective is to provide training and incident support. This can include aerial video of conditions such as traffic, fire activity, community security and reconnaissance. Training and further policy development is continuing but how to best incorporate this technology to support the community is essential. Coupled with our website and SMPERS, the UAV can be an important advancement in our ability to disseminate accurate and timely information based on real time observations.
Local Water Resource Management
Water resources and their management is a profound challenge confronting the entire state. Major changes have already occurred with more in the immediate future that will include small private well systems. The WRA could assist local water companies and purveyors in appreciating the importance of remaining informed regarding regulations and testing mandates. As a community, we need to have a better understanding of what our total water resources are in the event of an emergency. I would propose a WRA sponsored one day workshop for all local water companies and individual operators to come together and discuss issues of mutual concern.