Shake Up Call

Last night’s magnitude 6.9 earthquake off of the coast of Eureka, California was reminder that we live in earthquake country.  Thankfully, there were no reports of injuries or damage and the ocean tremor did not generate a tsunami. [youtube=http://youtu.be/CVNjK-S9dVQ]

Judy was in Tokyo, riding the train to the airport, when the 8.9 Tōhoku earthquake struck. Her immediate reaction was simple: to reach out to her digital networks, and let them know what was happening. Tomorrow, March 11 is the 3rd Anniversary of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.

Earthquakes can happen at any time with little or no warning.  That’s why it’s important to take simple steps now so we’re ready for any emergency.

Get Connected: When disaster strikes, we come together to help each other. Getting prepared is about knowing your neighbors, saying hi to the regulars at the local market, and staying in touch with family and friends—both digitally and in person.

Gather Supplies: Whether you’re just starting out or a preparedness pro, gathering your emergency supplies is easy. A good rule of thumb is to have supplies for about 3 days, or 72 hours. You’ll be surprised at how much you already have.

Make a Plan with your People: A little foresight can go a long way—make a plan now, so you know how to find and get in touch with your people when something happens. The same connections that are important in everyday life—with friends, family, neighbors, and communities—are even more crucial in a crisis.

For more information visit www.sf72.org.  SF72 is your hub for emergency preparedness. You’ll find information about what to do in an emergency, simple steps to get connected, and useful guides to help you get prepared.

Fear Factor

A volcano in the city. Nothing grabs headlines like fear.  In some circles, yesterday’s earthquake in Southern California was cast as a foreshock to the apocalypse.  Cue the scenes of a volcano erupting in Los Angeles and an asteroid hurling towards earth. Somebody better call Tommy Lee Jones and Bruce Willis because we need a hero!

Are we scared yet? Okay, now let’s all take a step back from the ledge.

Yesterday’s 4.7 tremor?  A simple reminder we live in earthquake country– instead of believing the hype, let’s take small steps towards individual and community resilience.

A shadow puppet

You are more prepared than you think! If the power goes out, you have a flashlight handy, and you know who can pick up your kids if you get stuck at work. You adapt and move on - disaster averted! By managing everyday life you already have what it takes.  So take simple actions now to make life easier when an earthquake happens!

72 hours is a great starting point for preparedness – it’s the first step in preparing yourself and your family for a disaster. Simple tips include keeping a bag of stuff to get you by for 3 days, having an out-of-state contact, and making sure your  family has a safe meeting spot.

So what about heroes? Who is going to save the day?  You will - and so will your neighbors.

In the event of an emergency, communities come together. Past disasters – from Sandy to Fukushima – have proven resilience because of people helping each other.  Being prepared is not just about getting your supplies together; it’s about knowing your neighbors, lending a hand, and sharing your knowledge and skills to help your community.

Neighbors handing out food to others

Take the time to meet your neighbors - at home, at work, or through social networks.  After all, these are the people we rely on everyday no matter the crisis!

For more small steps and ways to get connected check out:  www.72hours.org.  You can also check out our SFHeroes app for mobile devices!

How We Learn from Each Other

By Anne Kronenberg, Executive Director, Department of Emergency Management Anne Kronenberg's Name Tag at the BCEM Conference

On the East Coast it was a super storm, in the heart of Texas it was a gathering of elite athletes, and thousands of miles away it was lessons learned from years of conflict.   As the Executive Director of San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management (DEM) I have the honor of working with talented and dedicated individuals responsible for managing every day and not so every day emergencies.   One of the most important things we can do to become a more resilient San Francisco is to learn from the experiences of others.

Emergency Managers Coming Together to Exchange Ideas and Learn from Each Other

Last month, San Francisco hosted the Big City Emergency Managers (BCEM) Conference. This bi-annual conference brings together emergency managers from big cities throughout the nation.  Over the course of three days emergency managers from New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, San Diego, Boston, Philadelphia and Miami shared experiences, innovations, and best practices.  All of us Big Cities have been working to improve our emergency logistics systems.  At the conference, we learned how the systems were put to the test during Superstorm Sandy.

Emergency Management Doesn’t Always Mean Managing Emergencies

Houston was the center of international attention during the NBA All Star Game.  While not an emergency in the traditional sense, emergency managers coordinated resources to ensure both residents and visitors were safe and could enjoy the festivities. In San Francisco we also activate our emergency management systems in support of city-wide special events.  Hearing how Houston handled the NBA All Star Game was particularly insightful and will help us refine and hone our own practices.

Emergency Officials at BCEM Conference

During the conference, we shared with our colleagues the unique and beneficial partnership that exists between the San Francisco Bay Area and the Fleet Week Association.   Over the last three years, we have conducted disaster humanitarian assistance exercises and seminars with the armed forces.  Taking place as a preamble to Fleet Week celebrations, these exercise and seminars include our men and women in uniform as well as local and state officials.  We strive to better understand each other’s roles and needs should the San Francisco Bay Area experience a catastrophic event.

Medical Training in Israel

Looking Abroad for Innovation in Resilience

We can even learn from our partners abroad.  Through Harvard’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, I joined a delegation of officials from the United States to visit our peers in Israel.   We examined issues related to mass casualty events and population resilience.  For example, patient tracking in Israel involves sharing photos of patients on a common hospital system to help families reconnect with injured and wounded loved ones.  This may not work in the United States but it gets us thinking how we reconnect families separated by disaster.

Bringing Lessons Learned Home

As San Franciscans we enjoy all that comes with living in the Bay Area from our wonderful weather to the diversity of our culture.  We also share the responsibility of caring for one another and doing all we can to prepare for disaster.  This includes learning from the experiences of others and figuring out how we make it work at home.  The lessons we learn from our peers around the country and around the world help us become a more resilient San Francisco.

Anne Kronenberg is the Executive Director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM). She oversees a department over 250 employees providing emergency communications, emergency services and grants management. Anne previously served for 16 years as Deputy Director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. In that role, she was responsible for disaster preparedness, pre-hospital emergency medical services, medical surge, multiple casualty incidents and mass prophylaxis planning.