February 9-1-1 Public Safety Dispatcher of the Month: Lisa Lee

San Francisco Department of Emergency Management’s 9-1-1 Dispatchers manage more than 1.2 million emergency and non-emergency calls annually and are often the “first” first–responders whom San Franciscans reach when facing an emergency or are in crisis.

Every month a DEM Public Safety Dispatcher is recognized for outstanding service while assisting those in crisis. This month DEM Public Safety Dispatcher Lisa Lee is being recognized for the care she provided to a woman in distress.


The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management has selected Public Safety Dispatcher Lisa Lee as Communications Dispatcher of the Month for February 2015 for her expeditious and compassionate customer service that she demonstrated during a 9-1-1 call from a woman who was audibly ill.  The caller told Public Safety Dispatcher Lee she was dizzy, and that she may be experiencing a heart attack or stroke.  Public Safety Dispatcher Lee immediately initiated a call for service with very limited information, while providing calming and comforting words of encouragement.

Public Safety Dispatcher Lee’s compassion moved the caller to personally thank her, which she expressed in a letter to DEM stating “I will be forever grateful for the quick action of all involved who responded.”


For more information about 9-1-1 in San Francisco visit www.sfdem.org/911

San Francisco's 9-1-1 Dispatch Floor

San Francisco’s 9-1-1 Dispatch Floor

Burning Building? Call 911. Burning Question? Call 311.


People dial 911 every day for all kinds of emergencies. At the Department of Emergency Management, our dispatchers are experts at sending the right kind of help to the right location – fast.

But sometimes people call 911 for things that are not emergencies. Like to ask for a Police Department phone number. Or to report stolen property. These non-emergency calls can tie up our 911 phone lines, and make it harder for real emergency calls to get through.

Fortunately, there’s a MUCH better number to call for non-emergency situations – 311. The expert staff at 311 can provide information on an amazing variety of non-emergency City services, both over the phone, and on the 311 app. And just like us, they are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and can provide the answers you need in over 176 languages.

In short: Life-threatening emergency? Call 911. No urgency? Call 311.

Still not sure which number to call? Here’s a primer:

Burning Building? Call 911.                                  Burning Question? Call 311.

Bike accident? Call 911.                                      Bike stolen? Call 311.

Shots fired? Call 911.                                          Flu shots? Call 311.

Blocked airway? Call 911.                                   Blocked driveway? Call 311.

Building collapse? Call 911.                                Building permit? Call 311.

Car accident? Call 911.                                       Abandoned car? Call 311.

Person knocked out? Call 911.                           Street light out? Call 311.

Muni accident? Call 911.                                    Muni late? Call 311.

Need rescue after an earthquake? Call 911.      Need info after an earthquake? Call 311.

Need Police help immediately? Call 911.          Need a Police phone number? Call 311.

Escaped prisoner? Call 911.                                Escaped chihuahua? Call 311.








Get the picture? For life-threatening emergencies, call us at 911, and we’ll get the Police, Fire Department, or an ambulance to your side as fast as possible. For everything else you need from the City, call our friends at 311, and save 911 for the real emergencies.

SBA Offers Disaster Assistance to California Businesses and Residents Affected by the Mission District Fire

Originally posted on Cal OES Newsroom:

SBA LogoSACRAMENTO – Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to California businesses and residents affected by the Mission District Fire that occurred on January 27, 2015, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet announced today. SBA acted under its own authority to declare a disaster in response to a request SBA received on February 13 from Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr.’s designated representative, Mark S. Ghilarducci, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

 The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in Alameda, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

 “SBA is strongly committed to providing California with the most effective and customer-focused response possible, and we will be there to provide access to federal disaster loans to help finance recovery for businesses and residents affected by the disaster,” said Contreras-Sweet. “Getting our businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

 “Low-interest federal disaster loans…

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Local Mission District Restaurants Come to the Rescue

This blog comes to us from John McKnight, Director of Emergency and Disaster Services for the Salvation Army SF Metro and Golden State Division and who is leading the charge to feed the many San Franciscans who lost their homes due to last week’s numerous fires. 


The best restaurant in town may this week be at the Red Cross emergency shelter located, and hosted by The Salvation Army Mission Corps. An outpouring of generosity and support by local eating establishments in the Mission have filled up most of the meals scheduled for the Shelter residents. Initially, the Mass Feeding Coordinator, John McKnight of The Salvation Army, was put in contact with Vinny Eng of Tartine Bakery and Shakirah Simley of BiRite who began rallying and coordinating all of the good will in the area, on top of delivering meals from their restaurants through the week. Tartine has taken on all of the shelter’s breakfasts, and BiRite has given us the materials to make lunches for the children whose lunches we pack daily.

To date our meal plan includes fine foods from Tacolicious, HeyDay, Sprig, and more eateries are lining up to help. “I must tell you what a wonderful treat it is to be feeding the people of this shelter with such fine foods,” says John McKnight..”They have been through so much, and this generosity by local restaurants is giving the survivors healthy food to eat, and great meals to share together as a community.”
Salvation Army_Feeding Blog

Salvation Army Lunches

Salvation Army Dinner

Salvation Army Dinner Prep


And in the spirit of the how food can bring us together during an emergency, check out our SF72 story from Charles Phan of the Slanted Door:

San Francisco Comes Together to Help Survivors of the Mission Fire

San Francisco, CA – At 6:30 p.m. this evening the City and County of San Francisco, the American Red Cross, and the Salvation Army will open a temporary emergency shelter to help the survivors of this week’s 4-Alarm Mission Fire.  Sixty-seven San Franciscans including 15 children lost their homes and all of their belongings.

“The devastating Mission Street fire tragically took a life, destroyed many homes and small businesses,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “We are working closely to rapidly rehouse displaced residents and support small businesses as they recover.  Confronted with the challenge of rebuilding their lives, we will continue to support them.  We call on neighbors, friends and partners to assist the families and small businesses to help them recover from this tragedy.”

The temporary shelter located The Salvation Army’s Mission Corps Community Center at 1156 Valencia Street will serve as a place where survivors can stay until housing can be found for them.  At 10:00 a.m. Saturday, the American Red Cross will open a Service Center at the shelter, where survivors can meet one-on-one with Red Cross case workers to assess their situation, create recovery plans, navigate paperwork and locate help. Other agencies and non-profits will be available on site to meet with residents to determine their housing and resource needs.  San Francisco’s Human Services Agency (HSA) will work to facilitate mid-to-long term housing matches.

“The Salvation Army, in partnership with the Red Cross, will provide the Mission Fire survivors with both shelter and a place of respite within their own neighborhood,” said John McKnight, Emergency Disaster Services Director for The Salvation Army’s Golden State Division. “The Salvation Army Mission Corps has been a part of the Mission neighborhood for over 90 years and it’s our privilege to serve alongside the City of San Francisco, its residents and partner agencies to help rebuild the lives of those affected by this tragedy.”

The best way to help fire survivors and rescue workers is to make a financial contribution. Monetary donations allow disaster responders to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors. The American Red Cross and The Salvation Army have established mechanisms to accept donations.  At this point, in-kind donations are not being accepted.  Used clothing and used furniture are seldom required during an incident. While well intentioned, in-kind donations such as clothing, furniture, and food can hinder the response effort.

“Financial donations allow us and our partners to be flexible in the help we provide and ensure that we can give our diverse communities the help that is most appropriate for their needs,” said Mark Cloutier, Regional Chief Executive Officer of American Red Cross. “We appreciate the offers to provide clothing, food, and other materials but each disaster is unique and so are the needs of its victims. It takes time and money to sort and distribute donated items whereas financial donations can be accessed quickly and put to use right away.”

A number of business owners were also affected by the Mission Fire. The Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development  will be at the Mission Police Station Community room on Friday from 10:30 a.m. -1:00 p.m.  assisting businesses with filling out disaster declaration forms so that an application can be made to the State of California  as part of Small Business Administration approval requirements.  Staff will be available to answer questions from business owners and outplaced employees that were impacted by the fire. For direct assistance, businesses can contact Francis Chan at (415) 816-3816. For outplaced employees, contact Carmelo San-Mames at (415) 701-4848. Or visit www.oewd.org/missionfire to learn more about available resources and services.

“In an event like this, where the needs of the displaced resident are so great, they are best served when all of the responding agencies are coordinated. A response like this would easily challenge the resources of one agency, and the services required need to come from various programs. Only through a coordinated effort can all of the multiple resources be brought to bear, and that is the role of the San Francisco Human Services Agency,” said Benjamin Amyes, HSA Disaster Response Manager. ‘Our role is to be sure that all of the needs are met as efficiently as possible by bringing together all of the responders and directing the residents to the services that best fit their needs.”

How to Help:

American Red Cross
All Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. Help people affected by disasters like the Mission Fire and countless other crises by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org/donate, or call 1-800-REDCROSS.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services program provides a number of services to meet the needs of each unique disaster, whether a house fire or major earthquake.  Some of these services include food service, shelter, donations management, emotional care, and disaster case management. Salvation Army assistance is free, funded entirely by donors, and is provided to disaster survivors without discrimination. The Salvation Army uses 100 percent of all disaster donations in support of disaster relief operations. To help, please visit http://salar.my/ewNl69 or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY and mention “The San Francisco Mission Fire” when you give.

While the Salvation Army is not accepting in-kind donations for survivors of the Mission Fire, gifts of gently-used household goods, clothing, etc., support the day-to-day work of the Salvation Army in the community. Please consider giving these items to your local Salvation Army Family Thrift Store.

Fire Safety and Prevention is in Your Hands

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher Remember the word P.A.S.S PULL -Place the extinguisher on the floor. Hold it by the tank (pressure on the handle could pinch the pin). Pull the pin straight out. AIM -Start 10 feet back from the fire. Aim at the base of the fire. SQUEEZE -Squeeze the lever on the fire extinguisher SWEEP -Sweep from side to side, moving in slowly until the fire is out.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Remember the word P.A.S.S
PULL – Place the extinguisher on the floor. Hold it by the tank (pressure on the handle could pinch the pin). Pull the pin straight out.
AIM – Start 10 feet back from the fire. Aim at the base of the fire.
SQUEEZE – Squeeze the lever on the fire extinguisher
SWEEP – Sweep from side to side, moving in slowly until the fire is out.

Last night’s 4-Alarm Fire in the Mission was tragic as one person lost their life and dozens were left without a home.   As fire investigators determine what happened it is important to remember that there are simple things you can do prevent a fire in your home.   Here are a few:

  • Never leave candles unattended.
  • Don’t overload extension cords.
  • Never leave food on the stove or in the oven unattended.
  • Always unplug small appliances when they are not in use to prevent overheating as well as conserving electricity.
  • Keep combustibles away from space heaters or other heat producing appliances.
  • Allow sufficient space around computers to let them vent properly.
  • Keep your eyes open! If your lights dim every time you plug something in, it could be a sign something is wrong. Likewise, if your circuit breaker keeps tripping, then you should call an electrician to help you.
  • If you see a fire starting at a wall outlet, pull the plug out of the wall and turn off the power to the outlet. Then call 9-1-1.  It is important you do not put water on an electrical fire as this only make things worse.

Finally, remember that smoke alarms should be installed inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level.  Test all smoke alarms at least once a month and replace batteries every six months; however, we recommend upgrading to an extended life smoke alarm (for example: 10 year smoke alarm).

Ready for more?   The San Francisco Fire Department has additional resources to educate yourself and others about fire safety.  Visit www.sf72.org  or take the City’s free Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) training to prepare for any emergency.

A Little Now Means a lot Later

This afternoon, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake occurred southwest of Ferndale, California (approximately 260 miles north of San Francisco). We think this is a good reminder that we need to do what can now, before the next earthquake impacting San Francisco, because that will make our City’s recovery all the more effective.

So, let’s use Ferndale’s earthquake as an opportunity to not only build upon our earthquake preparedness, but connect within our community networks about emergency preparedness in general. Have a conversation about preparedness with your family, neighbors, friends, and coworkers. Talk about what you would do if an earthquake causes damage in our city, and in our neighborhoods. Visit www.sf72.org to learn how to be prepared for earthquakes (along with any type of emergency), and ask your neighbors to do the same.

Plan Basics

We also encourage everyone connect into emergency preparedness by taking the San Francisco Fire Department’s free Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) training, and register for the City’s e-mail and text-based notification system www.AlertSF.org.

We know disasters, whether it is an earthquake, tsunami, or something human made, can happen at any time with little or no warning. That is why it is important to take steps now so we are ready for any emergency. Let’s not wait until the next disaster to show how connected and prepared we are.

More Prepared

It’s Not too Late to Get a Flu Shot

As I write this blog, I’m home sick with a head cold. Thankfully I could work from home in an effort to prevent the spread of flu…but I don’t have the flu, perhaps thanks to the flu shot I got last November.

“But wasn’t that flu vaccines not as effective as originally thought it to be?” you may be wondering?

Our friends as the San Francisco Department of Public Health want us to know about the benefit of getting a flu shot—even at this stage in the flu season. Their point is simple and reassuring: even during a season when the vaccine is only partially protective against one flu virus, it can protect against the others.

“Even though the flu shot is not a perfect match for all of this year’s flu viruses, it is still worth getting,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, San Francisco Health Officer. “The shot will still protect against other strains of flu that are circulating, and can prevent the severity of flu if you do get sick.”

The facts about the flu (and how to prevent its spread):

Flu Prevention Blog 2

Every year, flu sickens and kills thousands of Americans and is particularly dangerous to the young, elderly and those with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems. In addition to getting vaccinated, it’s important to practice good hand washing and health habits. People who are ill can help stop the spread of germs:

  • Limit contact with others – stay home from work or school
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based rub
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone six months of age or older, but is particularly important for those at higher risk of severe influenza, including pregnant women, children under five years of age, the elderly, and persons with certain underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, asthma and heart disease. Vaccination of pregnant women also helps to protect infants too young to be vaccinated.

This flu season can still become severe. Those at highest risk who show flu symptoms should contact their physician immediately in order to get the most effective treatment.

Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.

Visit a flu vaccine location near you to get immunized. For more information about influenza, visit http://www.flu.gov.

One Strap at at Time

Originally posted on SF72:

“Non Structural Mitigation” is a fancy term for doing what you can to prevent things like furniture, appliances, wall decor, etc. from falling or tipping over during an earthquake. This blog is an ongoing journal by DEM’ers (and SF72 enthusiasts!) first-hand incremental steps to prevent the big mess that the big one could cause. We’d also love to hear about anything you’ve done to Beat the Quake, so please share here!

The first in this series of “One Strap at a Time” comes to us from Francis Zamora, DEM’s Public Information Officer, Mirolama Park resident, and soon-to-be first-time dad.


1 Strap at a Time_1

We all have a little bit of “I should” in us.  I should get back to the gym or I should know what does and does not belong in the compost bin by now. For many us, preparedness is no different: I should be more prepared for an emergency.  While getting…

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Happy New Year, San Francisco!

Originally posted on SF72:

Isn’t the New Year inspiring? Who doesn’t love a chance to start fresh and really focus on what you want to accomplish—with a whopping 365 days to do so. We have a hunch that preparedness may not be number one on most New Year’s resolutions lists, but in its most boiled down state, preparedness is easier than most think.  And by taking stock of your preparedness, you are doing something now, before an emergency, that will make a big difference after.

More Prepared

So, here are a few simple ideas to help jump start meeting a preparedness New Year’s resolution:

  • A little foresight can go a long way—make a plan now, so you know how to find and get in touch with your people when something happens. The same connections that are important in everyday life—with friends, family, neighbors, and communities—are even more crucial in a crisis.

Plan Basics

  • Print and fill out the

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