DEM Talks Tsunami Preparedness with KGO-7

Deputy Director Rob Dudgeon talks to the Bay Area’s KGO-7 about Tsunami Preparedness. San Francisco plans for all emergencies including Tsunamis. For tips on how to prepare for tsunami or any disaster visit www.72hours.org. You can also see if you live or work in a Tsunami Inundation Zone.

DEM talks Tsunamis with a Reporter

Deputy Director Rob Dudgeon Talks Tsunami Prep with KGO-7

Tsunami Preparedness in San Francisco

San Francisco DEM

This week marks national Tsunami Preparedness Week and DEM wants San Francisco to know what to do in the event of tsunami hitting our shorelines.

Tsunamis are NOT like normal waves at the beach. When they approach land they are like a surge or fast flood. Earthquakes are nature’s warning for a possible tsunami, so if you are by the coast and the earth moves, first: drop, cover, and hold on; second: when the shaking stops, get to high ground; and third: stay away from the coast.

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Sometimes it takes many hours for the first waves of a tsunami to reach the shoreline, and often times the first waves (or surges) are not the highest or most powerful.  Whether we are under a tsunami advisory, watch, or warning it is imperative that anyone in coastal areas listen to DEM’s instructions.  Our primary methods of issuing the notification are AlertSF and

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Step Up (Literally!), San Francisco

Take steps towards community preparedness and join us for our first ever SF Tsunami Walk Saturday, March 30th at 10:00 am. Bring your family, invite your friends and meet your neighbors and find out what to do in case of a tsunami, which is to walk UP to higher ground.

highground

Meet us at the intersection of The Great Highway and Lincoln Way.  As we would during an actual tsunami evacuation, we’ll walk inland and away from the beach. The short walk ends at Francis Scott Key Elementary School which is the neighborhood’s Tsunami Evacuation Assembly Area. So, sign up here or just show up at 10:00 AM!

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Meanwhile, next week kicks off Tsunami Preparedness Awareness Week (March 24-30, 2013).  Tsunamis are a very real risk to San Francisco; in fact, we have many tsunami inundation zones along the city’s coastlines.  And two years ago we had a tsunami warning in San Francisco, which was caused by the Tohoku, Japan earthquake.

Throughout Tsunami Preparedness Week we’ll post preparedness tips on our blog and @EM4SF on Twitter.  And remember, you’re more prepared than you think!

To learn more about emergency preparedness in general, visit our preparedness web site 72hours.org.

Fear Factor

A volcano in the city.

Here comes the apocalypse!

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

Ever done this before? Then you probably have a flashlight stashed away in case the power goes out.

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

New Yorkers helping neighbors after Super Storm Sandy.

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

San Francisco Hosted the Big City Emergency Managers Conference in February

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

L to R: Bijan Karimi – DEM Assistant Deputy Director, Rob Dudgeon – DEM Deputy Director, Anne Kronenberg – DEM Executive Director, Major General Melvin Spiese – I Marine Expeditionary Force

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

Hospital staff participate in mass casualty 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.