Monthly Archives: April 2015

DEM Honors San Francisco’s Dispatcher of the Year: Kayleigh Hillcoat

Have you ever wondered who is on the other end of the line when you call 9-1-1? In the advent of an emergency you call 9-1-1 hoping to ultimately reach fire fighters or police officers, but who coordinates with those entities? Who guides them? Who advises them on the situation, and who helps to keep our officers and fire fighters safe in potentially chaotic instances? Dispatchers are the unsung heroes of our emergency response infrastructure. Last week was National Public Safety Dispatcher Week and the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management celebrated all of our fantastic and talented team of dispatchers. DEM also recognized San Francisco Dispatcher of the Year, Kayleigh Hillcoat.

As a resident of the Richmond, Kayleigh was formally recognized by her Supervisor, Eric Mar, during the Board of Supervisor's Recognition of Commendation.

As a resident of the Richmond, Kayleigh was formally recognized by her Supervisor, Eric Mar, during the Board of Supervisor’s Recognition of Commendation.

“Teamwork is vital and I’m proud to work with a team of skilled and compassionate individuals who strive to do their best for our public safety partners and the citizens we serve every day. We put our personal emotions aside and pull through intense, difficult situations together.

The incidents mentioned by Supervisor Mar are no different.  I may have been a voice in the chaos, but I was backed by my co-workers helping to log and forward critical information, make calls, notify our allied agencies of crucial updates and dispatching fire and medical response along the way.” Kayleigh remarked during her Recognition of Commendation.

Usually Dispatcher of the Year is recognized for one incident however, Kayleigh is being awarded for commanding three high profile incidents this year. Kayleigh assisted the San Francisco Police Department during an incident that involved a potential officer down, throughout spontaneous celebrations the evening that the San Francisco Giant’s won the World Series, and during public demonstrations in Union Square related to the Ferguson, Missouri protests.

When asked what her favorite part of her job was, Kayleigh responded “[It’s] challenging, there is something different every day, I appreciate being able to directly make a difference in someone’s day or life depending on what the call is about.” She also enjoys the fact that she provides a service to the public, in addition to assisting our fire fighters and police officers.

Kayleigh Group Shot

What most people are not immediately aware of are the difficult parts of the job. Kayleigh shared, “the lack of closure after the call ends can be hard. There isn’t a lot of follow-up on how the emergency was handled or what happened to the caller.” Sometimes dispatchers interact with callers facing grave circumstances; this is a burden all dispatchers carry.

However, Kayleigh has found a wonderful way to deal with some of the more difficult parts of her job by volunteering her time at San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control (AC&C) where she volunteers with the Fetch Program. The Fetch Program is dedicated to dogs brought into the custody of AC&C due to the fact that the owner may be in the hospital, jailed, or evicted. These dogs are often emotionally stressed after being separated from their owners and the comfort of their homes, that’s where Kayleigh steps in. Kayleigh finds solace that she can help in some way post-call by being on the receiving end of displaced animals due to emergencies.

Kayleigh

This September Kayleigh will mark her 10th year as a DEM Dispatcher. Congratulations Kayleigh for a job consistently well done and DEM is proud to honor you for your vital contributions to public safety.

109 Years Ago…

Tomorrow at 5:12 a.m. will mark the 109th anniversary of the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. This disaster took the lives of an estimated 3,000 people and left the City in ashes as much of the destruction was caused by fires and nearly 300,000 people were left homeless.

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Since the 1920’s, residents have gathered at Lotta’s Fountain to reflect on the devastating 1906 earthquake and fire, and as DEM has done year after year, we will join our fellow San Franciscan’s at this very early hour to commemorate what remains one of the worst tragedies in California history.

But tomorrow isn’t a convening to remember destruction; it’s a convening to remember connection. Because emergencies look more like cities coming together than falling apart, which is what happened here in San Francisco 109 years ago. It’s also a time to honor all those who came before us by preparing for any emergency. Visit SF72.org learn how.

15836__0004HR _Michael Mustacchi

So, if you are a very early riser, please join the commemoration around 5:00 a.m. at Lotta’s Fountain. Look for people dressed 1906 period attire and practice your singing voice as we follow the moment of silence at 5:12 a.m. with “San Francisco” (scroll below for lyrics). If you can’t make it Lotta’s Fountain, you can meet us at the Golden Hydrant (Church and 18th Streets) closer to 6:00 a.m., which gets a fresh coat of gold paint every April 18th to commemorate the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.  For exact locations, check out the SF27 In an Emergency map, which has Lotta’s Fountain and the Golden Hydrant marked.

15836__0035HR _Michael Mustacchi

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San Francisco 

It only takes a tiny corner of

This great big world to make a place you love

My home upon the hill

I find I love you still

I’ve been away but now I’m back to tell you

 

San Francisco

Open your Golden Gate

You let no stranger wait outside your door

San Francisco

Here is your wandering one

Saying I’ll wander no more

 

Other places only make me love you best

Tell me your heart of all the golden west

 

San Francisco

Welcome me home again

I’m coming home

To go roaming no more

DEM Monthly Digest: March 2015

Dispatcher of the Month 

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 Daneshia Adamson is being recognized for the care she provided to an elderly woman in distress.

Earlier this month Daneshia received a 9-1-1 call from an elderly woman who wanted to report her vehicle stolen. After checking the vehicle’s license plate and information, she discovered that the vehicle had been reported stolen in a previous report. Suspicious that the caller had no recollection of the previous report or phone call, Daneshia stayed on the phone with the elderly woman while simultaneously alerting an on-duty officer to perform a well-being check. Daneshia compassionately stayed on the phone with the caller until an officer arrived, who ultimately decided that a medical evaluation was needed. Thanks to our Public Safety Dispatcher’s keen instinct, the caller was attended to and escorted to a medical evaluation.

911 Dispatchers answering phones

Call 9-1-1 to receive help for emergencies, potential emergencies, or if you are not sure if it’s an emergency.

Disaster Feeding Tabletop Exercise 

Currently, community and faith-based organizations provide food daily for thousands of San Francisco residents. But what would happen if San Francisco were hit with a mega-storm?  Here at San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (and SF72) we often discuss how we would survive during a 72-hour emergency, but how would we as a city provide access to food and uphold our feeding network during a storm that lasted 20 days?

On March 12th, the Kelly Cullen Community Center housed over 50 non-profit, public, private, and NGO stakeholders who came together to participate in the 2015 San Francisco Disaster Feeding Tabletop Exercise (TTX). You may be wondering what a tabletop exercise is…essentially it is a discussion-based forum where participants are faced with different scenarios and have the opportunity to express concerns about the current plan-of-action. This particular exercise brought our group to a San Francisco gone dark, under a 72-hour power outage. In addition, we bunkered down as we faced a 20-day mega-storm, complete with flash-floods, massive and ongoing power failures, and winds of gale force. Our greatest concern during this exercise was how to reach affected populations that were food -scarce, or that had completely run out of food.

Throughout our discussions we considered how some of our most vulnerable citizens, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, and the homeless community would reach food sources. We realized that an ongoing loss of power could lead to isolation, and mobility problems. Seeking shelter also could be dangerous. In addition, how would we provide food for the rest of the city whose food supplies had simply run out or had gone bad? One of the more humbling realizations a few of our partners reached was the possibility that their feeding station, shelter, or business may become un-operational by day-20. However, by facing these hard hitting questions and working together, we found that our unique partnerships could sustain a storm of this magnitude. Where some partners would need support, others would be able to step in. When it came to protecting the city, the people, and the furry friends that we love, we became ever-more resourceful. We found that only through the communication, collaboration, and coordination of our efforts would we be able to reach and provide food for those in need.

Citizen Corps Meeting: Tap Your Knowledge

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (SFDEM) had a fun evening on March 26th to discuss the most important item in an emergency: Water! In celebration of NERT’s upcoming water education program, Citizen Corp learned how the SFPUC manages the water system, the history of Hetch Hetchy, and personally how we can be more prepared with items we have around the house. We saw how the SFPUC tested their plans in Treasure Island in 2012 by distributing water via manifolds, water trucks, and with the help of volunteers. The audience learned how the SFPUC uses manifolds to connect to and safely access water hydrants, as well as the dangers residents face in operating hydrants.

PUC CC pic

Home Fire Prevention Public Service Announcement 

Amid the recent San Francisco apartment fires that left many families having to find new housing, and the unseasonably warm weather and excessively dry conditions, early this week the City urged all San Franciscans to take measures to prevent residential fires.

On Monday, March 30th, City officials gathered at the San Francisco Fire Department Division of Training to learn about and deliver crucial fire safety and home fire prevention methodology. “Fires have potential to quickly become large-scale emergencies, as we experienced in the Mission and in other parts of the City last month” Said San Francisco Department of Emergency Management Executive Director, Anne Kronenberg.

The City engages in many fire prevention practices, including using landscaping goats to control overgrown brush in areas such as Glen Canyon, Corona Heights, and other steep slopes.  San Francisco Public Works also stands at the ready to remove debris or other possible fire hazards and encourages residents to call 3-1-1 to report cases of this nature.

During the home fire prevention demonstration, the San Francisco Fire Department delivered the following fire prevention messages that apply now, during warm and dry weather, and at any point during the year:

While some fire prevention tips apply year-round:

  •  Never leave food on the stove or in the oven unattended
  • Never leave burning candles unattended
  • Keep combustible items away from heat sources
  • Properly dispose of smoking materials
  • Keep matches out of reach of children’s little hands
  • Do not overload electrical outlets

Other warm weather fire tips should be noted as well:

  • Check propane tank hoses & connections for leaks before lighting the grill
  • Douse hot coals or campfires with water before leaving the area
  • Dispose of barbeque coals in a non-combustible container such as a metal bucket
  • Keep a minimum clearance of 4 feet around the barbeque grill
  • Keep weeds and foliage trimmed and clear of fences, decks and homes

As we approach a dry spring and summer, best not wait to integrate these tips into your routine and make necessary adjustments to your apartment or home.