Monthly Archives: February 2012

FEMA Think Tank in San Francisco

Last Friday the FEMA Think Tank (a forum to engage FEMA’s partners, promote innovation, and facilitate discussions in the field of emergency management) held its monthly conference call discussion from our City Hall.

FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino, San Francisco City and County officials, private sector, non-profits and faith based organization participate in FEMA’s Think Tank conference to discuss how to improve communications during emergencies and disasters.

FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino, center, and to his left, DEM Executive Director Anne Kronenberg, were joined by representatives from the public sector, private sector, non-profits and faith based organizations during the FEMA Think Tank conference call.

Conducted by FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino, the topics of discussion focused on how to improve communications during an emergency with specific emphasis on amateur radio operations and mobile apps.

Many participated in the call via Twitter. We encourage you to search the Twitter hashtag #femathinktank for a recap of the call’s key discussion points.

Meanwhile, Deputy Administrator Serino shared his thoughts about the Whole Community approach to emergency management and to how San Francisco is on the forefront of recovery planning and bringing the whole community together to promote a resilient San Francisco.

Thanks to the Neighborhood Empowerment Network for capturing Deputy Administrator Serino’s comments:

Safe Enough to Stay

Last week the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) opened Safe Enough to Stay, an exhibit for the public that teaches us what steps we should take to make San Francisco a Resilient City. Within the exhibit is a recreation of a San Francisco apartment, which allows visitors to experience what living in a retrofitted home after a major earthquake might be like, along with recommendations to make our homes safe enough to stay. The exhibit is in support of the SPUR report, Safe Enough to Stay.

Several of us at DEM went to the opening and had a similar experience: seeing a San Francisco-esque apartment replica with damages an earthquake would likely cause really drove home (forgive the pun) the core message of the exhibit—staying at home after an earthquake really is doable.

“People would far prefer sleeping in their own beds as opposed to living in a shelter” said Laurence Kornfield, Special Assistant to the San Francisco City Administrator in the San Francisco Earthquake Safety Implementation Program. “Not to mention, most of us have a big concern about the security of our homes should we leave, so if the building is not leaning or obviously structurally damaged, most homes are safe enough to stay.”

DEM is a leading agency in recovery planning for San Francisco and knows a vital factor in our ability to recover is that San Francisco residents are able to stay in their homes. And as SPUR stated in the report, Safe Enough to Stay, “the city has a limited number of emergency-shelter beds, and its ability to provide interim housing is constrained by low vacancy rates and minimal vacant land. This means San Francisco is at risk of losing its most important asset: its people.”

Thank you SPUR for creating  resonating experience that educates us on how to stay in our homes after an earthquake.  The exhibit is free to the public and will run through April 18, 2012.

Prepare to Prosper

Kenzi and his fiancée discussing their preparedness planning

When it comes to disaster preparedness for people with disabilities, thinking about building capacity to prosper is a powerful message. This message is effectively presented in Prepare to Prosper, a video that shares the preparedness stories and planning tips from Bay Area residents with disabilities. The video follows Jim, a man with a physical disability, and his quest for an answer to the question of “how do I get prepared for the next disaster?” He meets Ana-Marie Jones of CARD – Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters, and learns that the key to preparedness is not a focus on some distant fear; the key is preparing to prosper every day. Rather than planning on the quickest way to get help to arrive, the message of prepare to prosper encourages all of us to think creatively and resourcefully about our daily living environment. We may find we already have many assets in place to allow us to prosper. In short time, Jim’s lesson in preparedness becomes a lesson in how to be the best he can be in any circumstance. Because we at DEM believe most are more prepared than they think, we say amen this message!

CARD worked with the Center for Independent Living (CIL), SF Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC), and the Community Resources Independent Living (CRIL) to create the video. “It’s an honor to work with the leaders of the Independent Living Centers; and I’m absolutely delighted to have CARD’s Prepare to Prosper approach and curriculum shared across the region. We’re all excited to be part of changing the preparedness paradigm” says Ana-Marie, a passionate advocate for ending America’s disaster victim cycle and building resilient communities, where even the most vulnerable members will survive, thrive and prosper in the face of disasters and emergencies.

The video also shares prepare to prosper tips for personal assistance services’ providers and community-based organizations that support persons with disabilities. The production was funded by a Homeland Security Grant obtained by the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA).

For more information on ways for using video as part of a larger community preparedness effort, please contact one of the agencies highlighted in the video.

1. Yomi Wrong, Center for Independent Living (CIL)
2. Jessie Lorenz, SF Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC)
3. Sheri Burns, Community Resources Independent Living (CRIL)
4. Ana-Marie Jones, CARD – Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters

Here’s the video available with subtitles:

Here’s the video available with audio description:

When SF Celebrates SF DEM Activates

All smiles (working in the EOC on Sunday night isn't so bad when you work with great people)!

San Francisco has no shortage of things to celebrate—most recently being the 49ers NFC Championship Game. Although we were disappointed our team lost the game, we do not see this as a total loss. Why? Because when the masses in San Francisco celebrate, we have cause to activate the City and County of San Francisco’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). And activate our EOC is what we did to support the various coordination needs that arise with big events such as an NFC Championship game.

Most who have interacted with DEM Division of Emergency Services Director, Rob Dudgeon (AKA sfdemRob) have heard him refer to himself as “just a medic” (for those who don’t know Rob, he spent four years as an EMT and 15 years as a Paramedic before joining DEM). Rob sees these special events as opportunities to hone our skills as a local-level department of emergency management.  “When I was training to become a medic, one of my instructors said it was better to learn how to read an X Ray without issues before learning to read one with issues” he says, “and the same rings true for us as emergency managers.”

2100 and still going strong!

So, DEM treats celebratory events of city-wide significance as opportunities to test our skills, plans and procedures so when we activate for an emergency or disaster, we are practiced, focused and confident.

The 49ners did not win, which means we will not need to activate our EOC for a Superbowl. Silently, some of us are breathing a sigh of relief. But there are many more opportunities to activate our EOC on the horizon, including the 101st Bay to Breakers race in May and the America’s Cup in August. Then there are events we cannot schedule (the not-fun, emergent kinds) but when they do happen, we will quickly and efficiently get to work. So until then, Go Giants! Just kidding…