The Clearinghouse in 2011

Happy 2011!

Hope you all had a great holiday season.  I want to take the opportunity to thank all of our returning members for their renewed enthusiasm and efforts in support of the California Earthquake Clearinghouse (CA EQ CH) and welcome all of our new members to the group.  We had a busy year in 2010 and accomplished a lot.   In October we had a stakeholder’s meeting attended by many new participants, both in person, and via our on-line webinar.  We also carried out the annual Shake Out exercise on 10/21.  The Shake Out exercise included a mock call down to test the procedures for establishing a physical location for the CA EQ CH at a Caltrans maintenance facility following a fictional event in S. CA and one in N. CA.  The Shake Out also included a tabletop exercise coordinated with USGS/SCEC in Southern California.  Last year we also upgraded our website as well as our Clearinghouse Fact Sheet and recruiting flyer, and, we developed a new partnership with the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security/ Customs and Border Patrol (U.S. DHS/C & BP) wherein they will provide overflight support for CA EQ CH post-earthquake activities.  Not too shabby!

Now we’re into a new year and we still have a lot to do.  Looking forward, with regard to Outreach activities, we will be hosting our first stakeholder’s meeting in S. CA in April.  The meeting will be held on Thursday, April 7, at Cal Tech so we need to publicize the meeting and encourage people to attend the meeting, either in person or, via the webinar option.  Another priority for the Outreach group is to arrange to meet with the Cal EMA headquarters group; the people who monitor the RIMS system and match resources to requests for assistance.  Over the last year it became clear Cal EMA HQ are not familiar with the CA EQ CH.  In the event of a major earthquake this lack of coordination could cause serious delay in the CA EQ CHs ability to secure resources necessary to respond (e.g. securing a Mission Task Order to authorize activation of the Civil Air Patrol or use of a Caltrans maintenance facility).  Our goal is to have the CA EQ CH Fact Sheet included in the Cal EMA HQ incident response “play book”.  Finally, the Outreach committee should continue efforts to foster participation by various state/local law enforcement agencies (i.e. city/county, National Guard, Port officials, etc).

We have big plans for the Overflight committee as well.  With our newly formed partnership with U.S. DHS/C & BP in place we need to start identifying the first group of CA EQ CH personnel to be trained on the data collecting equipment onboard the U.S. DHS/C & BP air craft.  We will arrange to schedule at least one training session/demo flight prior to the Golden Guardian exercise scheduled in May of this year.  Also, as exciting as the new partnership with U.S. DHS/C & BP is, we still need to continue to develop/finalize other overflight options including Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and use of a dirigible (e.g. Airship Ventures). 

And let us not forget the IT group.  We have a great new web site capable of accommodating the uploading of photos and other data and referencing said information to an interactive map.  The new web site also has groups where individuals can engage in discussions regarding the various CA EQ CH areas of interest (geology, engineering, etc.).  Cal EMA, one of our CA EQ CH partners, is also working on upgrading the GIS capabilities at Cal EMA.  The Cal EMA system will be able to upload and store data and/or retrieve data, (in various formats) from other servers and make the data available for emergency responders and others, both during and after major earthquakes.  The next step is to figure out how to integrate the new CA EQ CH web site with the new GIS capability under development at Cal EMA.  Primarily, we need to make sure people know where they can go to input various types of data.   In addition, NASA (west coast) and Goddard (east coast) have both approached the Clearinghouse with proposals similar to the offer by U.S. DHS/C & BP, to provide resources for emergency response operations following a major earthquake.  Among the resources being offered are (but not limited to) hardware, data, satellites and band width.  The IT committee will actively pursue these offers and set up whatever agreements are necessary to secure the use of these important resources and make sure the resources we’re developing (i.e. Cal  EMA GIS system) are compatible with these other resources. 

Finally, the Management group will be pursuing several important goals.  On the horizon for the coming year the management group will work to coordinate CA EQ CH participation in the upcoming Golden Guardian exercise in May as well as the annual Shake Out exercise.  We will also continue efforts to increase membership by scheduling the fall stakeholder in northern CA.  We also became aware of a new on-line web tool from Cal EMA to manage our volunteers.  The new tool is not quite operational yet, but when it is available, we will start to use it to coordinate our various resources (e.g. subject matter experts, multi-lingual volunteers, regional experts, etc.) to improve our response capabilities.  This volunteer resource management tool will make it possible for official volunteers to receive “state-funded …worker’s compensation benefits for disaster service worker volunteers who contribute their services to protect the health and safety and preserve the lives and property of the people of the state.  This program was established to protect such volunteers from financial loss as a result of injuries sustained while engaged in disaster service activities and to provide immunity from liability for such disaster service worker volunteers while providing disaster service. “ (California Code of Regulations Title 19, Div. 2, Ch. 2. Sub-chapter 3, §2570.1)  And, in an effort to address the ongoing concern over access into affected areas, we will pursue the idea of a volunteer training program with the goal of issuing a CA EQ CH badge/credential to those who successfully complete training.  This is just one possible solution to the access issue.  Finally, we will establish a new sub-committee to help refine our response according to region/scenario.

There you have it.  We’ve accomplished a lot but we still have a lot to do, so the more people we can encourage to participate, the lighter the load for each individual.  Please continue to make suggestions and take action to improve our organization. 

Thanks to all for your continued help!

Anne Rosinski
Chair, California Earthquake Clearinghouse
California Geological Survey