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, cfncw.org 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
Email: CRC.Omak@gmail.com
Colville:  Julie Sacket
Washington State Department of Transportation
Second Floor
440 N Hwy 395
Email: CRC.Colville@gmail.com
Castle Rock: Kellie Williams
DNR Pacific Cascade Region Office
601 Bond Rd.
Email: CRC.CastleRock@gmail.com

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 http://inws.wrh.noaa.gov/weather/alertinfo/25850705

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 www.clark.wa.gov/public-health/pools/beaches.html.

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.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Take A Hike, The 10 Essentials

With so many amazing trails in the Pacific Northwest it’s no wonder that hiking remains one the most popular “leisure” activities in the region.  One of our responsibilities here at CRESA is to support Search & Rescue operations for missing hikers.  It is hard to be prepared for every situation you might face while on the trail, but by carrying these "10 Essentials" you can increase your odds of a returning home safely.

Navigation - A map is no good without a compass, and a compass is no good if you don't know how to use it. It doesn't matter how fancy your compass is, but if it doesn't have a compensation setting for true North, make sure you know how to convert magnetic to true North. In Western Washington magnetic North is 20-22° east of true North. GPS units are great, but they are not substitutes for knowing how to use a map and compass.

Water and a way to purify it - It is essential to drink a lot of water while hiking, especially with the hot summer we are having so far. Without water, your body doesn't perform as well and you could grow more susceptible to heat stroke, hypothermia and altitude sickness.

Extra food - Always bring extra food when hiking in case an unexpected situation delays your return - be it detour, injury or sickness, difficult terrain, weather, etc. Bring at least one extra day's worth.

Rain gear and extra clothing - Weather can change quickly in the mountains. A sunny, warm day can turn into a cold downpour in a very short period of time.

Fire starter and matches - Always bring along waterproof matches in a water-tight container and have a dry or waterproof striker. You might also bring a cigarette lighter as a backup. And in the Northwest you can expect to have to deal with wet kindling.

First aid kit - Don't just have a first aid kit - have a useful first aid kit. If your kit just has a few band aids and some aspirin, you won't be able to do much. Make sure you have the supplies to deal with major injuries, and make sure you have the knowledge.

Flashlight and extra batteries - It's dark out there! A light source is vital if you get caught in the woods after dark. Also carry spare batteries and an extra bulb and make sure you test your light before each trip. Batteries have a limited shelf-life and contacts can become corroded, blocking the flow of current.

Knife or multi-purpose tool - Knives are indispensable in the back-country. They can help you prepare food, cut Moleskin or bandages, repair gear and more. 

Sun screen and sun glasses - Your eyes need protection, especially if you are on snow or above tree line. Sunglasses are a must. And those rays are strong and damaging; sunscreen is important for people of all skin types.

Emergency Shelter - When a day hike becomes an overnight adventure the need for shelter quickly becomes a priority. Options include an ultralight tarp, a bivy sack, an emergency space blanket, or even a large plastic trash bag.

For more information on hiking in SW Washington visit:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Off To New Adventures

July 15th marks the last day for a long time CRESA employee, Karen Murphy,  who will be beginning a new chapter of her life.  When I asked her if I could share a little about her and this new journey she gladly said yes, as long as it wasn't about her.

Those of you that know Karen, know how fitting that statement is for her, and the role she has played as the Human Resource Manager for CRESA for so many years.  Karen has always looked out for those of us that work here at CRESA, making each and everyone of us her priority, the best that she could.   Karen has viewed her role as  "serving in a position that supports the people that serve the public."

Looking back, Karen admitted she has very fond memories of her time here, and seeing the changes ,and growth CRESA has made.  Growing from a tiny, single agency, that was only dispatch, (our initials were CRCA back then,) to where the agency added Technical Services and Emergency Management and the name change to CRESA.

As we continued down memory lane she reflected on when she came to work directly for CRESA and that major turning point for the agency.  "CRESA turned the page from being a large, small agency as we emerged to a small. large agency."   Prior to that time, CRESA contracted, like we did for some other services through the county for HR services.   The realization that "we had grown to the point we needed to have our own HR personnel and IT in house was a major step for CRESA .  The agency really began to blossom."  The agency grew from a philosophy that by creating a regional model, we could add services, and by thinking "We can do this better together,"  the area and residents we serve began seeing the results of "We are already doing this better," and finally to where we are now, "Regionally together where can we still do better?"

I asked Karen what was one of her biggest challenges in her time at CRESA, and her response was, "Learning to speak Dispatcher."  She recalled a time in her early days at the agency, where during an In-service, she was to lead an ice-breaker activity.  As she was explaining the activity, she remembers looking up and seeing administration and management staff nodding along, yet when she looked at the dispatchers, they all had a different look on their face.  Finally someone helped "translate" the activity and they all saw it.  Over time she learned to appreciate what some would consider blunt straight forward talk, and the benefits that can come with the direct dealing of something instead of the windy curvy path in parts of the outside world.

As I wrapped up the few minutes I took to sit down with Karen, I asked her about her fondest memory in her time here at CRESA.   She talked about the people that work here.  From walking the hallways of the building, and seeing everyone she had a part in hiring, to crying with dispatch staff on the floor after a really bad call, there is a very human connection with people that work in public safety.  "It might take them a bit to let you in, but once they do, they don't want to let you go!"

As Karen begins her next big adventure in life, she hopes she has been a good steward, leaving CRESA a better place than when  she found it.  Karen I can say.. Yes you Have!!

We salute you Karen,  as you jump into your next adventure.. .CRESA and all of us will miss you!!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Clark County Fire Marshal Issues Ban on Recreational Burning

Effective immediately, the Clark County fire marshal has banned all recreational burning in unincorporated Clark County and within the city limits of La Center and Battle Ground due to extreme fire danger. These jurisdictions join the city of Vancouver, which implemented a recreational burn ban on Wednesday.

The ban prohibits:
·         Campfires
·         Outdoor fire pits
·         Outdoor fireplaces including those with a chimney
·         Portable fireplaces also known as patio fireplaces

Gas and charcoal barbecues are allowed as are self-contained camp stoves.

Here is the news release from the Fire Marshal's Office.  For more information visit:

Monday, July 6, 2015

Community Volunteers- It’s good for you and for us

If you are a regular reader visitor to this site you will know that we place a great deal of value in our community volunteers.  Regardless of their affiliation, their willingness to give of themselves to better their community is a cornerstone of our disaster preparedness and response organization.  It would be an understatement to say that volunteers are good for our community.  They are critical to the health and wellness of our community.
And being a volunteer could be critical to the health and wellness of our community members. 
A growing body of evidence suggests that being a volunteer-getting out and working with and for your community-of giving back—is actually good for you. 
  • One study found that three quarters of respondents who volunteered in the past year made them feel healthier, with an additional 20% admitting that it also improved their overall mood.
  • Volunteering is a chance to make a contribution in a way that you control, with 80% of volunteers reporting an increase in feeling in charge of their health.
  •  Volunteering may lower the risk of mortality.  The conclusion of a 2012 study by the American Psychological Association found that those who volunteer for altruistic reasons have a markedly lower mortality rate.
  • According to a Duke University study of individuals with post-coronary artery disease, those individuals wo volunteered after their heart attack reported less symptoms o despair and depression compared to those patients who were not volunteers.

For those of you who are volunteers this is not surprising.  For those you who don’t regularly volunteer.  Give it a try.
For more information about how volunteering is not only good for your community, but good for you check out these sites.

If you’re interest in learning more about volunteer opportunities in Clark County go to our website or leave us a note and maybe we can help http://cresa911.org/volunteer-programs/