The following are some accounts we received from facilities during the 2008 California Wildfires.  We share these with the permission of the authors, providers who stepped forward to help their staff, their communities, and its residents.  By doing so, we hope to inspire innovative thinking in your disaster preparedness and response efforts.  If you too would like to share a disaster related story, please email us at info@cahf.org.

We are participating very actively in the city's EOC (Emergency Operations Center) during this fire emergency.  Originally the mayor tried to discourage us from attending because it was a "tedious and tactical meeting that not every citizen can understand" (can you imagine?).  Well, we are very active and supportive of the needs of the community, so the fire chief called me on Sunday because they needed to evacuate a disabled couple from their home.  Of course our doors are open and they know that.  During the first meeting the fire chief was so relieved to know that we had our facilities under control, residents were taken care of, and air filters being changed daily that he openly said "it is so good to know you guys are taking good care of the patients so we don't have to worry about you guys, I know that you will call me if you need anything, so we will move these resources to other areas".  It did feel good to have such recognition.

Right now we have "oxygen stations" at Fillmore Convalescent and Orange Blossom for community members, especially the elderly that are at home but need some fresh air, so they don't have to go the ER.

IT CAN BE DONE and DOES work very well. Thank you for your teaching, help, and support.

Eduardo Gonzales, President/CEO






All of our facilities in San Diego County (6 in total) are fully staffed and operational.  We have had no interruptions of service.  We have taken in between 40-50 evacuees from hospitals and SNF's. Our headquarters was evacuated Monday morning and within 2-hours we set up a remote emergency response center in Temecula where a team monitored and communicated fire activity continuously to our SD facilities.

Facility leaders in our 6 San Diego facilities (and 3 facilities in Orange and San Bernardino Counties) worked brilliantly to ensure continuity of supply lines, staffing, and proper communication with local emergency management (including CDPH).  Staff responded swiftly, resourcefully and were able to actively admit medical evacuees since Monday.  At least three of our staff members lost their homes and many more simply do not know the fate of theirs.  Remarkably these same people stayed at their posts cheerfully caring for residents, calming their fears and comforting families.

We have taken aggressive precautions against sustained power outages and air quality issues.  We positioned large portable generators to augment existing generators where air quality is poor so we can maintain air handling equipment that the original generator systems were not designed to support.  Facilities significantly improved internal air quality by using air filtration equipment that we pre-positioned as a result of the 2003 Cedar Fire.  We also deployed the first of potentially a series of RVs at our Oceanside facility for our staff to have a place to sleep and change clothes in circumstances where they were evacuated from their homes or volunteered to stay for multiple shifts.  This was calculated both to help dislocated staff members, keep them close to the facility, and keep staffing levels high for our residents.

Our facility leaders have taken existing evacuation plans and turned them into dynamic multi-layered plans that address potential evacuation route restrictions and potential long range transport.  Fortunately we have not had to use these plans but we are ready should things change.  Each facility has been in active communication with local sheriff, fire, and CDPH authorities throughout and continues to apprise them of our status.

We were grateful for the CAHF evacuation considerations that your team circulated.  We distributed the materials widely and discussed the suggestions with administrative and clinical staff at all levels.  The emergency response center we put together supplied fire maps and other important intelligence around the clock since Monday, which allowed us to plan in real time and adapt plans to meet the changing fire patterns and resulting evacuation route restrictions. Not over yet! But we are poised to meet what comes next.

Paul, Mark and Scott
























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