The fire and life safety education partner of the Los Angeles Fire Department has been busy! Thanks to some terrific collaboration with firefighters in the field, our education and awareness programs continue to make a difference for students and older adults. Check out some of our ongoing activities and accomplishments:
The Great ShakeOut 2013
Every year, MySafe:LA designs a drill around the “Great Shakeout” that brings firefighters and students together for a realistic MCI training exercise. The drill took place on October 17th in 20’s district. This year, our drill was the center of attention for a number of agencies, including CalOES, USGS, Red Cross, LAUSD, SCEC, and Council Members O’Farrell and LaBonge. By 0400, our media center was crawling with satellite trucks and reporters.
Coordinating with ESB and with help from Metro Fire and PIO Captain Jaime Moore, MySafe:LA conceived a drill that would include an earthquake preparedness assembly, followed by an MCI requiring firefighters to respond.
The assembly was a huge hit, featuring Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones from the USGS and firefighter (and MySafe:LA director) Margaret Stewart and her dog Bo. After the assembly, the students went back to their classrooms for the annual “Drop, Cover and Hold-On” exercise that began at precisely 10:17 A.M. — followed by a large-scale evacuation of the school.
During the evacuation, faculty determined 20 students and teachers were “missing.” These students and teachers had been moulaged to simulate quake-related injuries, and they were trapped throughout the campus. On arrival, Truck 20 Deuce Tom Kitihata put his crew to work and asked for additional resources. Battalion 11 arrived and IC Captain II Zipperman (from ESB) ran the operation using the MySafe:LA EAP. Check out the video on the MySafe:LA website.
Media coverage of the drill was huge, and TV, radio and print were saturated with images of LA firefighters at work. Our thanks to Chief Rueda, who attended the event, as well as Chief Ruda for his commitment to making the drill run well – and to Capts Zipperman, Mendoza, Ott, Moore and Kithata. Great job to all members who participated!
Some valuable takeaways from this drill include:
• LAUSD wants the principal to stay with students, but the initial on-scene commander may expect the principal to come out and find the IC.
• First on-scene IC must ensure the best possible intel from all on-site sources.
• After a major quake, Metro won’t have the resources you want. Train for degraded mode.
Here’s an update on our ongoing programs.
The Junior Fire Inspector Program:
In the spring of this year, we completed our first phase of the Junior Fire Inspector (JFI) program. Conducted in at-risk neighborhoods, and supported by a FEMA grant, the Junior Fire Inspector Program targets schools via LAFD Battalions, with Batt 11, Batt 12, and Batt 13 our areas of focus for phase-one.
The JFI program involves multiple trips to each school, teaching students how to inspect their homes, how to get working smoke alarms in place, and how to spread the word on fire safety. We provide FREE smoke alarms and batteries, as well as inspection forms, escape plans and videos. Students who complete their home fire inspection and return completed forms earn their own Junior Fire Inspector ID card. This fall, we are in phase-2 of the JFI Program. We want to shout out a special thanks to Captain II Chuck Ruddell and his crew from 89’s for his invaluable help in shooting our JFI video.
The Older Adult Fire Safety Program:
The older adult program is aimed at helping older adults to “know what to do” in the event of a fire or other life safety emergency. Fire is the primary issue – and as with the Jr. Inspector program, we offer FREE smoke alarms and batteries. The Older Adult fire escape plans we are developing are unique to older adults. And our new FireSmart:LA brochure is different as well, with larger type and more check lists. We’ll have all of our program materials in place by the first of the year, and will conduct multiple visits in January thru April of 2014 – months in which older adults seem to be most at-risk.
We’re working on this program in specific neighborhoods, not limited by battalions for now, but potentially in the future. Thanks to B/C Greg Gibson for connecting us with safety expert Meri-K Appy, who is now part of our team for this program. We’ve also secured an Older Adult Fire Safety spokesman in actor Jack McGee, a former FDNY firefighter, who has starred in “Backdraft” and the popular TV Series “Rescue Me.” He joins basketball and Olympics star Pau Gasol as a MySafe:LA and LAFD ambassador.
The 4th and 5th Grade Fire Safety Program:
This is the traditional Fire Safety Program that we’ve produced for years – and on which we’ve enjoyed excellent collaboration with LAFD members. Our trained and uniformed fire educators talk with the students about fire safety. The presentation includes lots of visuals – films, demonstrations, interactive handouts, etc. But the real highlight for the kids is the arrival of the first-in fire company to demonstrate their tools, turnouts and apparatus. During one busy stretch this summer, we had three appearances in a row featuring Captain Rick Godinez, who just happened to be working a 72-hour shift. He and his crew did yeoman duty for the kids each time, and we can’t thank him (and them) enough.
MySafe:LA also supports several other key initiatives:
• Earthquake preparedness and survival – via our QuakeSmart:LA program
• Water safety and drowning prevention – via our WaterSmart:LA program
• Pet safety and first responder K9 EMS training – via our 3Barks program
We have a web video series on K9/pet safety called “Before the Barks;” and we’re about to launch a new fire education web series on the LAFD called “Smoke Eaters.”
We’d love to have you join our cadre of LAFD members who volunteer, typically one or two days every other month. If you’re interested, or just to learn more, please visit our website at www.mysafela.org.
By Todd Leitz, Public Information Officer. MySafe:LA