Come what may, otters need to be prepared

California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) is on over 1,000 acres of what is considered by many some of the most picturesque real estate in the world. Part of the long-term enjoyment of what is available necessitates being prepared for any and all natural and/or man-made emergencies including earthquake, fire and flooding. The preparation entails a general four-step action plan proposed by The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to take time to (1) be informed (2) make a plan (3) build a kit–one for home, office and car as applicable, and (4) get involved.

“When emergencies happen, individual community members are often the first to respond helping themselves, their families and neighbors prior to the arrival of police or fire resources,” noted CSUMB’s website, “Based on past experience, emergency managers recommend everyone be prepared to take care of themselves for at least 72 hours following a disaster. If we’re prepared individually, we’re prepared to help others too.”

CSUMB has had some relatively minor emergencies in the past including vegetation fires, gas leaks, and the 2016 Sobreranes Fire in Big Sur area where the university provided extensive support to Cal Fire and to PG&E. These types of emergencies activate the lowest “monitoring” level of CSUMB’s Emergency Operation Plan, which involves keeping key university officials apprised of the situation.

The person responsible for CSUMB’s Emergency Operation Plan is Ken Folsom, emergency manager. Folsom came to the CSUMB University Police Department in January of 2016 with 40 years prior public service in emergency preparedness, and specific health and safety issues on campus are handled by a specialist that reports directly to him.

The following are answers to some of the questions asked Folsom in his role as CSUMB Emergency Manager.

Given the proximity to the ocean, is there any danger of tsunami? I believe there was flooding in the area some time ago that blocked off Highway 1. Is there reason to be concerned?

Ken Folsom: According to the tsunami inundation maps, the campus is not in the tsunami evacuation zone, but this does not mean we will not be affected by such an event. We may very well be cut off by flooding and maybe without power for an extended period of time.

Is CSUMB a designated community evacuation point?
Yes, it is on the Red Cross list as a shelter location and also Monterey County Office of Emergency Services list, it would only be activated on request to the university and if the university has not activated it for ourselves.

Does the university have a trained voluntary team to address emergencies? If so, is it open for others to join?
We do not have a volunteer team on campus anymore, we direct people to the City of Marina, the City of Seaside or the City of Monterey. All of those cities have a community emergency response team.

Are there any drills that take place on campus? Does each building have a designated leader to coordinate actions to be taken?
Yes, each building has a posted evacuation plan with designated assembly areas on the maps. Every year, the university participates in the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill along with a campus-wide evacuation drill. The University has a system in place called the Building Emergency Coordinator (BEC) program with a BEC for almost every building on campus, we are always looking for staff and faculty members to become BEC. These individuals go through initial training and additional training every year.

Are student emergency contact numbers updated or is that handled individually?
This is handled by residential life. All students, staff and faculty are entered into the OtterAlert System when enrolled for email alerts, but they must enter their own cell phone numbers.

Is it correct that each building has first aid and AED devices? Are there ongoing options to receive training? Do we have a team of staff throughout the campus trained in first-aid?
Yes, all buildings on campus have AED and First Aid Kits. CPR/AED classes are held each month for free available for staff, faculty and students at no cost. They are announced on the dashboard approximately 30 days before the class.

Does the university have emergency supplies?
We have a regional mass casualty and sheltering trailer with response equipment and some emergency equipment in multiple building on campus. The dining commons has a supply of food for multiple days.

Do you have a wish list for the work yet to be done?
There is always a wish list for my work, one of the first things is always looking for additional ways to notify the campus community in an emergency. New technology is always coming up and there is always room for improvements. The next thing would be keeping the campus community engaged in emergency preparedness. The last thing is time, time to train more people, time to plan more and time to make the community more emergency aware and be prepared.

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