Monday, September 28, 2015

CRESA Receives Clean Audit Report For The 22nd Year

Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA 9-1-1), is pleased to report that CRESA received a clean audit with no findings by the State of Washington for 2014. This marks the 22nd  year CRESA has received a clean audit which is something not many agencies can boast about. 

The Washington State Auditor’s Office was on-site at CRESA this summer. During the audit it was noted CRESA has internal controls that safeguard public assets, and we complied with state laws and regulations.  The Auditors examined the Allocation of User Costs, Procurement Processes, Payroll and Open public meetings, in addition to reviewing our Federal Grants and processes. The Accountability Audit Report and the Financial Statements and Federal Single Audit Report are available on the Washington State Auditor's Office web site.  They are located under Report Link 1015233 and Report Link 1015196.

The 22 years of clean audits can be attributed to our dedicated staff being diligent with documentation and their attention to detail.  Here at CRESA we are proud of our staff and the agency’s clean audit history.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What do you focus on?

“Disaster Preparedness” is the catchphrase of the day in many Pacific Northwest communities.  After the New Yorker article highlighting what a precarious situation we might be in, it’s a good time to decide what information we need to focus on. I propose we put aside the shock factor of the mainstream articles and news and place our attention on things that we can guide based on experiences and actions. As Stephen Covey described in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, each of us has a Circle of Influence we operate under in term of our actions. In other words, a set of thoughts, actions, or beliefs that influence what we can control. Obsessing on the worst case scenario or the elements of a bad event really doesn’t serve us.

When it comes to preparing for the worst such as earthquakes or other perceived disaster scenarios, we need to focus on what we have influence over.  Keeping our attention on what we can improve for the common good is our best interest.

And what’s more, let’s focus on what we can do in the present, as opposed to fretting about future events. As individuals our attention should not be eroded by the ubiquitous negativity of our 24 hours news cycle. Instead, I propose we build resiliency and enhance our focus and productivity like this: 

  • Assemble an emergency kit
  • Contact a relative, and ask them to serve as a remote point of contact in an emergency. 
  • Better yet, take an hour or two secure household items with an eye for things that can fall and break.
And it starts with one step. Taking one bite out of the elephant at a time is good way to look at it. Focus on thoughts and actions that will serve you and those you care about the most. To that extent, let’s focus on minimizing distractions.

Look at your focus as something that you must constantly attend to. Notice how you spend your time when you are focused on the bad news or the errant article about the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Do you become more or less productive in the darkness? Do you tend to see the good or the bad in an emergency situation or forecasted disaster? Maybe you have a steady eye towards the glass half full. And if so, your tendency might be to focus on the positive and prepare. Some of you might be inclined to see the low side of things, before you see a bright light. My point in this: Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

In a time when our focus and attention seem to be bombarded by constant stimuli, avoid passively absorbing the trivial and the negative. Seek out the positive solution and focus on that instead.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Back to School Emergency Planning

I cannot believe that I am already thinking and sharing information on back to school topics.  Seems like only yesterday we were sharing information on how to "survive" this unusually warm summer. As your prepare the little ones in your life for the either dreaded or celebrated return to school take a moment to review what would happen if an emergency occurred while your child was at school or daycare.

For many parents back to school preparedness means picking up notebooks, pencils, clothes, backpacks, and other supplies needed to start the year off right.  The beginning of the new school year is also a good time to know your school's emergency plans and how the school will communicate with parents in emergencies.  Emergency plans vary greatly from location to location, but every education or care facility should have some sort of emergency and notification plan.

Back to school planning tips include:
  • Know the school's emergency plan
  • Know where the children will be taken in the event of an evacuation, is there a predesignated parent/child reunification spot?
  • Ensure parent emergency contact information is up to date
  • Pre-authorize a friend or relative to pick up your child, ensure your child and the school are aware of who these people are
  • Have a family communications plan, plan which includes contact information for an out-of-area family member or friend
  • Make a small school emergency kit

Taking a few minutes before school starts to become familiar with these emergency related items could reduce the level of stress during an actual event.  It is an understatement to say a parent's worst nightmare is something happening to your child when you are not there to protect them.  Knowing a few details in advance will help you make smart decisions while responding to emergencies.

Visit some of the following helpful family emergency preparedness links:

Sunday, August 30, 2015

What light rain means to Wild Fire-

Image result for rain and fire

Light rain is falling in North East Washington State, bringing with it a decrease in the haze and smell in the air, but is it really impacting the fire?  How much help is this type of light rain, (1/8th to 1/2 inch) over a few hours, to the crews on the line?

The rain yesterday and today has significantly benefited the fire fighting efforts taking place throughout NE Washington.  But that does not mean that we are relaxing our awareness or lowering the evacuation levels currently in place.  There is still a great deal of potential for dangerous fire conditions when things dry out. As a rule, evacuation levels are not rolled back until the danger is gone, not just lowered.

The second point we want to make is that, although we welcome the rain, it is a help rather than a cure.  This type of light rain will wet down and soak into lite fuels such as grass; helping to prevent immediate ignition.  But type dry out quickly when the sun comes out and the wind picks up.  This type of rain can also slow down burn out efforts, as they require a lower level of humidity.

Light rain does not penetrate overhead cover, so the fuels and heat that are under the forest canopy are not really impacted.  Heavy fuels, such as logs and trees retain heat and continue to burn in these conditions.

This fire is not out and the fire crews are still aggressively fighting the fire and developing new control lines to fully contain the fire.  So while the rain is bringing some relief, it is only part of the relief effort.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

You've Been Asking About How You Can Help... Here's What We Know...

UPDATED 08/27/2015
UPDATED 08/26/2015

The spreading impact of the fires in Washington has prompted many individual and organizations in Clark County to ask how they can help, We have been doing some checking to help answer your questions.  Here are some things that you can do:

PREVENTION-  Currently even those of us living here in SW Washington are under extreme fire conditions.  We can help in our own back yard by being vigilant to prevent fires in our area.  No open flames outdoors.  Don’t park idling engines on dry grass.  If you live in a rural area make sure you have a brush free zone around your home.

DONATIONS- We have been contacted several times by individuals and groups that want to help by sending sack lunches or toiletries for firefighters.  As a former firefighter, I can tell you, the fire crews that are currently engaged in firefighting efforts are being supported in every way.  They have food, shelter, communications.  In fact they are fed very well.  Because of the strenuous job they perform, firefighter rations must meet a certain calorie count, meet allergy components, and several more guidelines.  They also come prepared for "fire camp" and items are available just in case they forgot something.   So sending them toiletries, food, writing supplies…etc is not only unnecessary, it can be counterproductive.   Donations of food, clothing, toiletries..etc must be tracked, stored and then dispensed.

As of this time, we are told the same applies to donating items to those who have lost their homes. With the current focus of getting the fires under control, there simply are not enough personnel  to track and manage and store all the supplies that would easily flow in after one of these types of disasters.  These actions require time and trained donation management personnel, Those are the two things that are in most short supply.  The current focus is sheltering  and taking care of those who have lost their homes. The best way at this point, is to consider making a monetary donation to one of those organization assisting in disaster response.  At this time these are what we have found:  

  • American Red Cross national site where you can make donations directly for disaster relief or to your local Red Cross Chapter. 
UPDATE 08/26/2015
  • Columbia Basin Hospital is accepting donations of supplies, particularly items needed in the short term. Those include non-perishable food, disposable plates and utensils, bottled water, gas cards, coolers, hygiene products, first aid products and pet food. No clothes are being accepted, said Alayna Lodi, the hospital's spokesperson. The hospital is working with the Wenatchee chapter of the Red Cross, and more information on what is and isn't being accepted is available by contacting the Red Cross, 509-663-3907. Here is their Flyer 
  • The Community Foundation of North Cnetral Washington is accepting monetary donations. They can be made at, or by calling 509-663-7166
 ** We are certain this isn't a full list but we will do our best to add them as we find out about them. 

You can also check the Registered Washington Charities Search   to verify if a charity you have found is registered at the state.  

IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO HAS HAD THEIR HOME DAMAGED-  the State of Washington Department of Financial Institutions has resources to help in both English and Spanish including information on mortgages called: Handling Finances after a Natural Disaster. 

UPDATE:  08/27/2015:

VOLUNTEER- The call has went out, so far over 4000 people have volunteered their services to help fight fires across Washington.   If you have questions about how to volunteer, or what requirements the Department of Natural Resources is looking for, here is the basic rundown:

Washington State Department of Natural Resources says they are mainly looking for people who have wildland firefighting qualifications, including an Incident Qualification Card (Red Card or Blue Card) or those with a letter of certification form a local firefighting agency saying you have performed and completed physical fitness tests, and met the experiences and training standards for serving on wildfire incidences.

DNR has set up temporary community resource coordination centers for those wishing to commit time or equipment to fighting the current wildfires.  You can also inquire online by completing the Online Intake Form.  

DNR Volunteer Intake centers will close Thursday August 27th at 6pm after successfully processing thousands of inquiries

Centers are being established in three strategic locations:
Omak:  Jay Guthrie
Omak City Hall
2 Ash St. N
Colville:  Julie Sacket
Washington State Department of Transportation
Second Floor
440 N Hwy 395
Castle Rock: Kellie Williams
DNR Pacific Cascade Region Office
601 Bond Rd.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Smoke and Ash Observed In Clark County

Update 8/22 5:45 PM: Oregon Department of Environment Quality has issued an air quality alert for the Portland Metropolitan Area until 4:00 PM Sunday.  Air quality may briefly reach very unhealthy levels late tonight into Sunday morning.  For full details visit

Smoke and ash from the Mt Adams area Cougar Creek fire has been observed in Clark County and throughout the region.

9-1-1 and local fire agencies have received many calls from those who believe the smoke is related to new fires within Clark County.  At this time it is not necessary to report the smokey conditions to 9-1-1 unless you observe actual fire or a smoke column observed within the county.

The smoke may effect air quality and those sensitive to poor conditions should take precautions to avoid prolonged exposure to wild fire smoke.

For additional information visit:

Monday, August 10, 2015

Treat your cell phone and your car as a lifeline

Emergency Preparedness and safety reminders come to us almost daily in articles and lists as these are available everywhere we look.  This article is just a small reminder of two of the most important tools most of us have at our fingertips to keeping you safe.

The difference between saving your life (or not) may be in keeping your cell phone charged and with you at all times.  We hear of people actually turning off their phone at night, leaving it in the car and forgetting to keep it charged.  With the inexpensive charging devices available to us today, there really are not that many  good excuses for not keeping them handy.  But, what if someone was trying to reach you for an emergency call?  What if public officials needed to notify you of a wildfire or flash flood?  Some of you might still have landlines and good for you.  That works if you’re home.  What if you are anywhere else but home?
Life can be scary, but less so if you are prepared.  Having to call 911 for an emergency (Know Your Location please) or receiving an alert telling you of a potential or imminent dangerous situation means you need to keep your phone charged and with you.  See this article from the recent floods in Texas.  Some of the folks that received emergency messages just ignored them.  If we have to send emergency alerts of messages like these, we hope you take them seriously.   

Please try to keep your car filled with gas (or at least half filled) as much as possible  and keep your cell phone charged at all times.  Be ready Clark County!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Clark County Public Health issues algae advisory for Vancouver Lake

Public Health issues algae advisory for Vancouver Lake
Vancouver Lake Regional Park remains open to the public

Vancouver, WA – Clark County Public Health is advising the public to avoid direct contact with Vancouver Lake water due to the presence of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). Because blue-green algae produce toxins that can be harmful to people and deadly for small pets that drink the water, public health officials are recommending:

  • No swimming or wading
  • No wind surfing or sail boarding
  • No water contact for animals
  • Precautions against contact with water while boating or fishing

“It’s especially important to keep children out of the lake because they are more likely than adults to swallow water,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Health Officer.

This advisory will not affect the 2015 PDBA Dragon Boat Regional Championships, which will take place on Vancouver Lake Aug. 1-2. Rowers have minimal direct contact with the water. Spectators can safely watch the event from the lake’s shores.

Caution signs have been posted at the lake and will remain as long as cyanobacteria are present. Public Health will continue to monitor the lake throughout the summer. Signage will be updated as conditions change. For more information and current updates, visit

Water in park restrooms and shelters is not affected by lake water and remains safe to drink. Eating fish from the lake is considered safe if organs such as liver and kidney, where toxins can build up, are carefully removed and people wash hands after cleaning fish.

Warm, sunny weather and the presence of nutrients can cause algae growth. Nutrients that enter the water and promote algal blooms include the phosphorus and nitrogen found in fertilizers and agricultural, human and animal waste.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Beat the Heat... Again... Tips and Places to Stay Cool

Another round of Hot Temperatures are expected over the next few days.  The extended forecast for the Metro area, is calling for temperatures reaching the century mark today and the  mid 90's through Monday.

Once again we want to share tips in keeping yourself, friends, family and pets safe during this latest heat wave hitting the Pacific Northwest.  

A few tips on keeping Family, Friends, and pets safe

  • Stay indoors and in an air-conditioned environment as much as possible unless you're sure your body has a high tolerance for heat.
  • Drink plenty of fluids but avoid beverages that contain alcohol, caffeine or a lot of sugar.
  • Never leave any person or pet in a parked vehicle.
  • Check frequently on people who are elderly, ill or may need help. If you need help, arrange to have family, friends or neighbors check in with you at least twice a day throughout warm weather periods.
  • Make sure pets have plenty of water.

If you go outside

  • Plan strenuous outdoor activities for early or late in the day when temperatures are cooler; then gradually build up tolerance for warmer conditions.
  • Take frequent breaks when working outdoors.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sun block and light-colored, loose-fitting clothes when outdoors.
  • At first signs of heat illness (dizziness, nausea, headaches, muscle cramps), move to a cooler location, rest for a few minutes and slowly drink a cool beverage. Seek medical attention immediately if you do not feel better.
  • Avoid sunburn: Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.

But even on hot days, many rivers and lakes in Southwest Washington remain cold.

  • Cold water − especially when high or swift − can immobilize even the strongest swimmer in minutes.
  • Know the water: Washington waters are cold enough to cause hypothermia even on the hottest summer day. Hypothermia can weaken even strong swimmers.
  • Know your limits: drowning often occurs when a swimmer tires.
  • Wear a life jacket when swimming anywhere without lifeguards or whenever you boat, jet ski, go tubing or do other water sports.
  • Ensure children wear lifejackets. Inflatable toys and mattresses will not keep children safe. By law, children 12 and younger must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket or vest on all vessels 18 feet or smaller.
  • Never leave children unsupervised in or near water, even for a minute. Drowning can happen swiftly and silently. Supervision requires complete attention, even if other adults are present.
  • Always avoid alcohol when swimming or boating.

Looking for Places to Stay Cool?

  • Check out local malls, restaurants, theaters and shops, libraries, and community recreation centers.
In Vancouver:
  • Marshall/Luepke Community Center, 1009 McLoughlin Blvd Monday-Thursday 5:30am to   9pm; Friday 5:30am to 8 pm; Saturday 7am to 7pm; closed Sunday
  • Firstenburg Community Center, 700 N.E. 136th Ave.; Monday-Thursday, 5:30am to 9pm;  Friday 5:30am to 8pm; Saturday 8am to 7pm; Sunday noon to 6 p.m.
  • Vancouver Public Works' Water Resources Education Center, along the Columbia River and waterfront trail, is an air-conditioned option for exploring our natural resources, from the aquaria to hands-on exhibits to toddler-size learning at Puddles Place.  Regular Water Center hours are 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, and from noon to 5pm on Saturday. Admission is free. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
  • And Vancouver Parks and Recreation has a fantastic interactive map for locating parks with potable water access.
In Washougal: 

  • Cooling stations are now available at Washougal municipal complex at 1701 C Street during business hours to provide relief from the expected high temperatures.   

  • City Hall:  M – F 8-5
  • Washougal Library:  Wednesday 10:00am - 6:00pm, Thursday 10:00am - 6:00pm, Friday 10:00am - 6:00pm.
  • Washougal Community Center: M-Th 9-3 and Friday 4-6


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

New Phone Scam Uses 9-1-1 For Call Spoofing Now Hitting Clark County

CRESA 911 would like to warn the public of a new phone scam now hitting Clark County.  Recently several news media outlets ran a story where it makes it look like 9-1-1 is calling you, then someone says you will be arrested if you do not send money.  To complicate it more, if you do call back, it actually does call the real 9-1-1 center.

The message goes on to state that if you do not call back within 30 minutes, you will be arrested.

What is confusing most is that the Caller ID is coming in stating its 9-1-1.  CRESA 9-1-1 would never ask for this type of personal information.  We would never leave someone a voicemail telling them there is a warrant for their arrest.  

If you receive one of these calls or voicemails, we encourage you not to call 9-1-1 back unless there is an actual emergency.

Please contact the Washington State Attorney General's Office to file a complaint.   His office can be reached at 360-753-6200 or you can complete the online complaint form.

We are also including a story about this shared on KGW last week.