Tuesday, September 23, 2014

CRESA Achieves Clean Audit Report Once Again



September 23, 2014

Contact:  Eric Frank, Public Information Officer, (360) 992-6289

CRESA:  Always Here, Always Ready!
 
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 2013. This marks the 21st  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 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 1012461 and Report Link 1012460.


The 21 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

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

It's Time For the CRESA Community EXPO


Each year, the first Saturday after Labor Day, CRESA closes the street and opens the doors and invites everyone to join us. On Sept 6th from 11am -2pm the tradition continues for the CRESA Community EXPO!! 

Some fun activities planned for children of all ages include face painting, creative button making, games, exploring homeland-security & emergency vehicles, meeting firefighters, police officers, search and rescue dogs and horses.  Kids can stop by the information booth to receive a passport on which they can collect stickers from a variety of booths. Rumor has it even Smokey Bear will be making a visit this year!! 

Enjoy lively demonstrations from Sheriff’s K-9 team, and the Regions Technical Rescue Team repelling off of the Public Service Center.  Learn hands only CPR!  SWAT, Fire, and many local skilled Search and Rescue Groups will all be on hand.   Explore the latest in specialized public safety vehicles including an Armored Personnel Carrier, a Heavy Rescue Vehicle, Fire Engines, Ambulances, Police Command Vehicles, and much more.   




The public will have the unique opportunity to tour the 9-1-1 center and see dispatchers in action taking emergency calls.  Sneak a peek inside the workings of our Emergency Operations Center.  Interact with representatives from our Homeland Security Program, a National Weather Service Meteorologist, and Amateur Radio technical experts. 

September always has a special time for emergency response agencies.  For 9-1-1 dispatchers, it contains the 9-1-1 date of 9/11 and for emergency responders, it signals National Preparedness Month which is celebrated annually throughout this coming month.   

Many local businesses like NW Natural Gas, Corwin, and Frito Lay, have generously donated hot dogs, chips and beverages available on a first-come, first-served basis.

CRESA and the participating agencies and volunteers are proud to offer this free and educational community event!  We look forward to sharing our special day with our community!! Be sure to tag CRESA in your pictures by using #CRESAExpo and check us out more by finding our CRESA Community EXPO Facebook Event!!  


Friday, August 29, 2014

CRESA Kicks Off 5th Year of #30Days30Ways Challenge

September is the 11th Annual National Preparedness Month which means that public safety agencies are busy working on a number of events to ensure that their communities are educated, informed and ready to face any type of crisis situation.  This year’s national theme is “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare!” 

This year, CRESA will  help You take action as we launch the fifth year of our huge online social media game called the 30 Days, 30 Ways Preparedness Challenge which has its own website. Game rules can be found at www.30days30ways.com.    

Being prepared for emergencies should be as common as wearing your seatbelt, and yet nearly every emergency preparedness survey conducted over the past 11 years indicates that 40-80% of people are unprepared to face certain hazards. 

Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA) created this 30-day contest in September 2010 and have, in the last 4 years, recorded the completion of over 10,000 readiness tasks from players in 36 states, 1 territory and 13 countries.    
  



Players are given a daily challenge at 7:00 a.m. PDT each morning.  Players may submit replies to each of the tasks involved throughout the month to either Facebook, Twitter, commenting on the 3O Days Blog or by email.  Players can choose to play as many days as they would like throughout the month. Players may also catch up and complete past tasks for the month if they miss a day.  All tasks will be short and will not require a significant amount of time to complete.   

CRESA’s primary goal is for people to share information about emergency preparedness, on social media, to reach people who may not otherwise think about being ready for disasters.  Through sharing and re-sharing information, it is vital for people to think about these interesting themes.         

Submissions will be reviewed for their creativity, relativity to the task and its evident popularity online.  Thanks to generous sponsors, winners will be selected and rewarded with gift cards to Amazon.  There will also be 2 Grand Prize winners, based on overall play and creativity selected in October, who will win a $50 Amazon card.

This game sparks great conversations and is a wonderful platform for neighborhoods, scouts, schools and workplaces.  Let it help you “Be Disaster Aware...”  to “Take Action to Prepare!”


Thursday, August 7, 2014

What's On Your List Today?

As September quickly approaches it is time to start thinking about getting those kids back to school.  I know, I know it's still August and it feels like Summer has just began, but before we know it we will trade these 90 degree days for leaf clogged street drains.


As I prepare my daughter for first grade I quickly become overwhelmed with the assortment of supplies kids need for school these days.  I remember walking to school with a Dixon Ticonderoga # 2 pencil above my ear and a copy of The Mouse and the Motorcycle in my back pocket.  Clearly times have changed and it is important to ensure our kids are setup to succeed in school.

As I was making my list I started to get separation anxiety and worry about my daughter's ability to cope with unpredictable circumstances.  Did I teach her about stranger danger?  Does she know what to do if she starts choking?  Does she know my phone number?  I wouldn't say I freaked out, but I began to question my efforts in preparing her for increased independence in this world.  I do this for a living, why hadn't I thought about her individual preparedness?  We have a fantastic family plan and kit, my car is a preppers paradise, and I generally feel I "walk the walk".  But for some reason I never thought about my daughter's level of preparedness when she was not with her Mother or myself.

With a little "Google Therapy" my anxiety quickly eased.  Even though the idea of "kids kits" hadn't hit me before, it was clear that a lot of people had put great thought into the topic.  I found numerous lists of recommended items to include in your child's school bag.  Do a quick Google of "kids preparedness kits" and you'll see what I'm talking about.


After reviewing a few lists I narrowed down what I thought was most necessary and reasonable for a 7 year old to carry with them.  Obviously a 7 year old's kit is going to look quite different then a 14 year old's.  Use your best judgement and really think about what your child may need if there were no adults around to guide them in an emergency situation.

Here's the list I came up with for my first grader:
  • Disposable rain poncho (we do live in the Pacific NW)
  • Assorted waterproof  band-aids
  • Emergency phone numbers on the back of my business card
  • Pencil and small notebook
  • $5.00 in $1.00 bills
  • Light stick
  • Energy bar
  • Whistle 
  • Water bottle ( one with a large opening so all items can be stored in it) 
The kit can adjusted seasonally to add things like sunscreen and lip balm in the summer.  My daughter helped me pick out the items for her kit and then helped me assemble it.  I think she thinks this is what I do at work, I can't break it to her that I sit in front of a computer most of the time.  Please feel free to share your Kids Kit suggestions in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.  I'd love to see some different ideas.
Every year I see numerous back to school drive buckets and always pick up extra supplies to help fill the bucket.  Please help fill these buckets throughout the county.  I think this year I might make a few extra kits and drop them in the bucket with the supplies.

I am done talking about fall, you may return to your Regularly Programmed Summer now.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Relay For Life This Weekend


Relay for Life will be this weekend and this year there are about 79 Teams and over 639 individuals participating.  To date, over $140,000 has been raised locally.  

WHAT IS RELAY?

Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.

Relay For Life events are held overnight as individuals and teams camp out at an athletic track, park or other gathering area, with the goal of keeping at least one team member on the track at all times throughout the evening. Vancouver's Relay for Life will be held at McLoughlin Middle School at 5802 MacAurthur Blvd.   Teams do most of their fundraising prior to the event, but some teams also hold creative fundraisers at their camp sites during Relay. Relay celebrates people who have battled cancer, remembers loved ones lost, and provides participants with an opportunity to fight back against the disease – all aimed at furthering the American Cancer Society’s efforts to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays.

JOIN US!

A part of Vancouver’s Relay For Life event is the Luminaria Ceremony, in which illuminated bags line the track, each bearing the name of someone who has fought cancer, to light the way for walkers.  Anyone that has particpated can tell you how heart-wrenching this visual is.  The Luminaria Ceremony will start at 10:00 pm on Saturday.  

A special Fight Back Ceremony, held during the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Vancouver, will provide everyone in all of Clark County the opportunity to make a pledge to take personal action in the fight against cancer. The ceremony will be held at 5:00 pm.

Its not too late to participate or even donate.  Check out the Relay for Life of Vancouver for more information on what you can do to help support this great cause!!  For more information you can also check out Relay for Life.Org.

We hope everyone stops out to this amazing event.  If you do, please stop by the CRESA booth and say hi!  We will be located on the north end of the track almost directly below the scoreboard.  Look for our Bright Blue CRESA Canopy!!

Let's Relay!!

Information for Relay for Life - Vancouver USA can be found here.  

National Relay for Life:   http://www.relayforlife.org/index

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Accreditation Assessment Team Invites Public Comment


CRESA Press Release
 
A team of assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®) will arrive August 2, 2014 to examine all aspects of the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency's policy and procedures, management, operations and support services, Director Anna Pendergrass announced today.

 The Assessment Team is comprised of Team Leader Commander Cheri Akselsen, Johns Creek Police Department (GA) and Team Member Ms. Michelle Provencher, Goffstown Police Department (NH).  Verification by the team that Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA) meets the Commission's state-of-the-art standards is part of a voluntary process to gain re-accreditation – a highly prized recognition of public safety communications excellence, Pendergrass stated.

 As part of the on-site assessment, agency employees and members of the community are invited to offer comments by calling (360) 992-6274 on Monday, August 4, 2014 between the hours of 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM.  Comments will be taken by the assessment team.    Telephone comments are limited to 10 minutes and must address the Agency's ability to comply with CALEA standards. 

Persons wishing to submit written comment about CRESA's ability to comply with the standards for accreditation may send them to the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®), 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite #320, Gainsville, Virginia 20155.

The Agency has to comply with 219 standards in order to retain accredited status, Director Anna Pendergrass stated.  Pendergrass further explained that accreditation will provide official recognition of the dedication and hard work of the professionals at CRESA who work tirelessly 24-hours a day, 7-days a week to assist community members in emergency situations.

 Accreditation is for three years, during which the agency must submit annual reports attesting continued compliance with those standards under which it was initially accredited.

 For more information regarding the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., please write the Commission at 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite #320, Gainsville, Virginia 20155; or call (800) 368-3757 or email calea@calea.org.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Take precautions during upcoming heat wave

Please enjoy these tips from our good partners at Clark County Public Health. 
With an extended period of heat and humidity predicted for our region, health officials are advising residents to take steps to protect themselves from the heat.

“Heat-related problems are preventable,“ said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Health Officer. “We are encouraging people to avoid or limit physical activity outdoors, take shelter in air-conditioned buildings, and drink plenty of fluids. Elderly people and the very young are especially vulnerable during periods of intense or prolonged heat.”

Residents are encouraged to observe the following tips to help prevent heat-related problems: 

§   Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. If your doctor limits the amount of fluid you drink, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot. 

§   Limit intake of drinks with caffeine, alcohol, or lots of sugar; these can cause you to lose more body fluid.

§   Stay indoors, in an air-conditioned location if possible. If your home is not air-conditioned, go to the shopping mall or public library for a few hours. This can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.  

§   NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially young children. This applies to pets as well.

§   Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature reaches the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off. 

§   Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
 
If you must be out in the heat: 

§   Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours. 

§   Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, avoid the midday hours and drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour.  A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. 

§   Try to rest often in shady areas. 

§   Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.  

Heat related illnesses 
Although any one can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on Infants and young children, people aged 65 or older, and those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure .  

 Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Warning signs of heat stroke may include a body temperature above 103°F; red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating); rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; and unconsciousness.

If you see any of these signs, have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the victim. Place the victim in a tub of cool water or in a cool shower, or spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose. Do not give the victim fluids to drink.

Less severe heat related illnesses include heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Heat exhaustion can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures. It is the body's response to an excessive loss of the water and salt contained in sweat.

Heat cramps usually affect people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. This sweating depletes the body's salt and moisture. The low salt level in the muscles causes painful cramps.

For more information, visit http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heattips.asp.

 

 


 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Burning Ban Begins July 15th


** The following information is shared on behalf of Clark County Fire Marshal


July 7, 2014

Contact: Jon Dunaway, Fire Marshal, (360) 397-2186 ext. 3324,
               jon.dunaway@clark.wa.gov

 

Outdoor burning ban from Tuesday, July 15, through Sept. 30


Vancouver, WA – As of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, July 15, all land clearing and residential burning in Clark County will be restricted until further notice.

Also, the Fire Marshal is rescinding all burning permits issued prior to the ban. Permits can be reissued or extended when the ban is lifted. The burning restrictions do not apply to federally managed lands.

In an effort to have predictable and consistent burn bans, Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania counties jointly implement a policy to ban outdoor burning from July 15 through Sept. 30 each year. Designating this period was based on years of information about fuel conditions. However, in extreme fire hazard conditions, a ban can begin sooner or end later.

“We want the public to know about the annual burn ban dates so they can plan to burn during safer times of the year,” said Fire Marshal Jon Dunaway. “After Sept. 30, please contact the Fire Marshal’s Office to be sure the ban has been lifted before burning.”

Recreational campfires on forest lands are allowed only if built in improved fire pits in designated campgrounds, such as commercial campgrounds and local, county and state parks. On private land, recreational fires are permitted when built according to the following regulations:

·         Recreational fires must be in a metal-, stone- or masonry-lined fire pit such as those in improved campgrounds or available at home and garden stores.
·         Size may not exceed 3 feet in diameter by 2 feet in height.
·         Fires must be at least 25 feet from a structure or other combustible material and have at least 20 feet of clearance from overhead fuels such as tree limbs, patio covers or carports.
·         Fires must be attended at all times by a responsible person at least 16 years old with the ability and tools to extinguish the fire. Tools include a shovel and either five gallons of water or a connected and charged water hose.
·         Portable outdoor fireplaces, also known as patio fireplaces, designed to burn solid fuel (wood) should not be operated within 15 feet of a structure or combustible material and must always be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
·         Completely extinguish recreational fires by covering them with water or moist soil and stirring with a shovel until all parts are cool to the touch.

Self-contained camp stoves are a safe and easy alternative to camp fires.


For more information, please contact the Fire Marshal’s Office at (360) 397-2186 or visit the county’s website at http://www.clark.wa.gov/development/fire/burning.html.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

There's An App For That!

     

It seems like nowadays there is mobile app for just about everything.  You want to track your daily jog, there’s an app for that.  Want to test you simulated farm skills, there’s an app for that.  Want to track your bowel movements, yes, believe it or not there’s actually an app for that.  With all of this energy, money, and resources dedicated being to creating smart phone apps it is nice to know some apps are actually useful, and could even save a life.

As an emergency manager I am often asked which mobile apps I recommend for emergency situations.  As an agency we need remain impartial, but there are a few we would recommend or I find personally interesting.  Here are some apps I found that could be helpful in emergency situations.  If you've already proven your farm skill to your friends and are tired of waging war on swine with angry fowl take a couple of minutes to check out these apps.  Please feel free to share your personal emergency related apps or share feedback on the ones I've listed here.

Red Cross Mobile Apps


Download Red Cross Apps!

Our partners at American Red Cross have a whole slough of apps just prime for your next emergency situation.  The apps offered by the Red Cross range in topic from everyday emergencies to major disasters, their Earthquake App is my "go to" earthquake monitoring source.  A number of the Red Cross mobile apps are available in Spanish.

FEMA Mobile APP

Cover art
Say what you want about FEMA, but they actually have a pretty good  mobile app.  The FEMA App contains preparedness information for different types of disasters, an interactive checklist for emergency kits, a section to plan emergency meeting locations, information on how to stay safe and recover after a disaster, a map with FEMA Disaster Recovery Center locations (one-stop centers where disaster survivors can access key relief services) and Shelters, and general ways the public can get involved before and after a disaster.


Pulse Point Mobile App

PulsePoint enables subscribers who are CPR trained to be alerted on their Smart Phone to a cardiac arrest in a public location the same time emergency responders are notified. You only need to be willing to do “Hands-Only” CPR. According to the American Heart Association, Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR in the first minutes of cardiac arrest.  Subscribers can also view active fire and emergency medical incidents and monitor emergency radio traffic.  Currently PulsePoint is only available in Clark County and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue supported areas.
I've included a link above to Mashable reviewing some of the top-rated weather apps.  There are too many weather related apps to mention.  The features and dependability of the apps vary greatly.  Considering most of these apps are free I recommend you compare a couple at a time to ensure you are getting the information that matters most to you.  My current favorite weather app is WeatherBug.  Not only is it a smooth and nice looking app, but it includes resources that others don’t, just last week I used the exclusive Spark real-time lighting tracker.

Knots 3D
Knots 3D
Caution, rope required! This seems like a fun app, I just wish it was around when I was trying to master all these knots in the Boy Scouts.  Knots 3D will give you a whole new perspective on the time honored art of knot tying.  You never know when your life might depend on your ability to tie a double bight figure eight, with this app you can perfect tying complex knots in a couple of minutes.  With a total of 94 knots taught in over a dozen languages I think I might just challenge my coworkers to a "knot off".

Breaker, Breaker this app is Far Out! The Zello app turns your "smart phone" into and old-school CB style radio. You can use it one-on-one with a friend, for a live group call with your family or soccer team. The Zello app can even replace 2-way radios at work.  The free push-to-talk app for mobile devices is easy to use and just plain cool.  Even if you don't use it in a real emergency you are sure to have fun playing around with it.


Emergency Response Guide Mobile App
A fun and interestingalbeit scary app for road trips is the Emergency Response Guide (ERG) mobile app. Ever wonder what those colorful and sometimes graphic labels on semi trucks and trains mean?  Now with the ERG app you can  hold the answer to deciphering those placards in the palm of your hand.  The guidebook includes important safety information about the hazardous materials traveling down our roadways.  This is meant to be an informative and educational app, please leave the response to hazardous material spills to the experts.

As you can see there are many mobile apps that are, useful, informative, and just plane fun.  I only listed a few that I've run across myself or have heard others recommend.  Nowadays our mobile devices are perhaps our most important emergency response tool.  We have the ability to carry a wealth of knowledge in our pocket or purse and it's a matter of understanding the tools before an emergency to starring you down.  As we've become increasingly dependent on these devices I urge you to have backup supplies and a contingency plan for when your device is not available, not charged, or not connected to the rest of the world.  

As I said above we would love to hear from you about your favorite emergency or disaster related mobile apps and thoughts on the ones listed above.