Disaster Safety Education for Senior Care Facilities
By Candace Anderson, Contra Costa County Supervisor
In our end of the county we are working hard to be prepared for disasters. Lamorinda and Walnut Creek have well organized Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Programs; and in the San Ramon Valley we participate in the San Ramon Valley Citizen Corps Council (SRVCCC). The SRVCCC is a coalition of the City of San Ramon, Town of Danville, Contra Costa County, the San Ramon Valley Fire District and the San Ramon Valley Unified School District. We collaborate and partner to improve emergency readiness. The council increases preparedness through comprehensive training offered, free of charge, to the community through a number of programs including CERT.
The SRVCCC recently created a video to help our senior population when there is a fire or disaster. In the San Ramon Valley we have approximately 79 residential care facilities, the majority housing seniors. Some are small, with 6 or less residents, and others are large assisted living and skilled nursing centers. San Ramon Valley Fire Marshal Christina Kiefer, working with Code Compliance Officer Debbie Vanek, recognized that we needed more training and outreach to ensure that these 79 facilities were safe and that staff knew what to do in an emergency. They organized the SRVCCC Residential Care Facility Working Group with representatives from the care facilities, Hospice of the East Bay, CERT, and other concerned groups.
It was out of the Residential Care Facility Working group that the idea for the video “Residential Care Facility Evacuation Training” was born. The 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion is a reminder of how important it is to ensure that our communities are prepared for emergencies, both big and small. This is especially true for staff who manage 24-hour residential care facilities. As depicted in the video, volunteers rather than staff rescued several bedridden seniors in a care facility in that disaster.
The video targets first responder and residential care facility administrators and staff. It helps to define a residential care facility, illustrates the need to know where these homes are located within a jurisdiction and how to find them, and it demonstrates the special circumstances and challenges that are present to evacuate residents and give staff the needed tools to take action during an emergency. The video was produced in three (3) languages; English, Spanish and the Filipino dialect of Tagalog. It is broken down into functional segments, each less than 5 minutes and can be viewed separately or all at once, which allows staff to watch at their own pace.
The production by local filmmaker Leonard Nelson was made possible through a grant from the Bay Area Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). Over 2500 hours of staff time was devoted to coordinate and produce this project. Additionally, over 100 agencies, businesses, individuals, and care facility administrators and staff volunteered their time and resources. It is being used locally and has been made available, free of charge, to agencies throughout the State. View the video at www.firedepartment.org/seniorsafety.
My office is here to serve the residents of Contra Costa County District 2, which includes San Ramon, Danville, Alamo, Walnut Creek, Saranap, Parkmead, Lafayette, Moraga, Canyon and Orinda. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can provide you with additional information on this topic or on other County issues. I can be reached at [email protected] or 925-957-8860.