Emergency Preparedness

C-17 Critical To Protecting Jobs And Homeland Security

Supervisor Don Knabe, Chairman of the Los Angles County Board of Supervisors, denounced a decision by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to end purchases of the C-17 cargo aircraft after 2010.

Knabe will be calling on his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors in opposing the suspension of the C-17 program by introducing a formal motion of opposition next week.

At a time when the Federal Government is pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into efforts to protect jobs and shore-up the economy, it is counterproductive and foolhardy to cut a program that employs 5,000 people at the C-17 plant in Long Beach and another 30,000 people at supplier facilities across the nation, said Knabe.

Beyond the economic impact from losing these jobs, the C-17 continues to prove that it is needed in the battlefield. Now we need to continue the fight in the political battlefield. This airborne workhorse is critical to U.S. forces and to our homeland security. The C-17 has shown its value many times in Iraq and Afghanistan and its usefulness closer to home during disaster relief missions.

Rain Advisory For All Los Angeles County Beaches

Because of current rainfall, Supervisor Don Knabe is joining the County Health Officer in cautioning residents who are planning to visit Los Angeles County beaches to be careful of swimming, surfing, and playing in ocean waters around discharging storm drains, creeks, and rivers. Bacteria, debris, trash, and other public health hazards from city streets and mountain areas are likely to enter ocean waters though these outlets.

Fortunately, discharging storm drains, creeks, and rivers only comprise a small portion of the beach, and therefore, anybody who wants to go to the beach will be able to enjoy their outing, said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Public Health Director and Health Officer. We do advise swimmers and surfers to stay away from the storm drains, creeks and rivers as there is the possibility that bacteria or chemicals from debris and trash may contaminate the water near and around these areas, and some individuals may become ill.

Areas of the beach apart from discharging storm drains, creeks, and rivers are exempted from this advisory. This advisory will be in effect until at least Sunday, March 8th at 7:00 a.m. This advisory may be extended depending on further rainfall.

Recorded information on beach conditions is available 24-hours a day on the County’s beach closure hotline: 1-800-525-5662. Information is also available online at the Department of Public Health website by clicking here.

It’s Time For Your Flu Shot LA County

Los Angeles County Health Officer Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, would like to remind everyone that a yearly flu vaccine is the most important step in protecting against influenza. Flu vaccination is the best way for people to protect themselves and the ones they care about from influenza.

Public Health will be hosting a number of free flu vaccine clinics at schools, churches, and other community sites. We encourage everyone who wants a flu vaccine to get one, said Dr. Fielding. The time to get a flu vaccine begins in October and extends into March because we sometimes see flu cases as late as May.

The flu vaccine clinic schedule and the listing of LA County Public Health Center locations and hours of operation can be found on the Public Health website at: www.publichealth.lacounty.gov. People who do not have access to the Internet can call the LA County information and referral line by dialing 2-1-1 from any landline or cell phone. Operators can assist people in locating a flu vaccine clinic or a Public Health Center near them.

Parents should know that recommendations for flu vaccinations have recently changed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children six months through 18 years of age receive a flu vaccine against influenza every year, unless they have a serious egg allergy. s

When people, especially school-aged children, receive a flu vaccine, they not only protect themselves, they also protect people around them who are susceptible to getting sick, said Dr. Fielding. Flu can easily spread from child-to-child in school settings.

The best way to prevent the spread of flu is to wash your hands often, especially after visiting the restroom, or coming into contact with someone who has flu-like symptoms; cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes; stay home if you are sick or keep your children out of school if they are sick; and get vaccinated against the flu, added Dr. Fielding.

Many pharmacies are also administering the flu vaccine. For these and

Knabe And Antonovich Call For Yearly Metrolink Emergency/Disaster Training

Los Angeles County Supervisors Don Knabe and Michael D. Antonovich introduced a motion this week before the Metrolink Board of Directors, requiring mandatory annual disaster simulation and emergency management training exercises for all five counties served by the agency (Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside).

The motion directs the Metrolink CEO to seek input from County, State and Federal emergency management agencies and other urban commuter rail agencies to develop a risk assessment analysis of the current Metrolink system’s single-tracking, at-grade highway/rail crossings, freight movement coordination, terrorist targets, tunnels, bridges, and stations.

The recent head-on collision of these two trains should never have happened, said Supervisor Knabe. It must be made evident to all of us in Southern California that the lessons learned translate into an improved, fail-safe rail traffic management system which can be counted on to avoid future train-to-train collisions, without exception.

With nearly 1 million boardings a month, Metrolink faces major challenges with sharing track with freight and Amtrak trains, at-grade highway crossings, homeland security and other infrastructure and technological issues, said Supervisor Antonovich. It is imperative that Metrolink inventories all challenges facing the system, develops a strategy to fund the necessary mitigations, and has an integrated and comprehensive emergency management plan for the five counties.

County To Evaluate Disaster Response After Deadly Metrolink Crash

In the wake of last week’s Metrolink train disaster in Chatsworth, Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe called for a comprehensive report evaluating the overall disaster response to the accident. The report is expected to be submitted to the Board of Supervisors in 90 days.

The Board of Supervisors approved Knabe’s motion that directed the County’s Chief Executive Office, in close cooperation with Los Angeles City and with the support of the County Coroner, Mental Health, and other participating County departments, to evaluate the initial disaster response. The final report should provide findings, conclusions and recommendations regarding the following subjects: timeliness; speed and effectiveness with which incident command and control was established and maintained; suitability and sufficiency of resources to safely extract and rescue victims; adequacy and effectiveness of communications, including means to respond to concerned family members, press and public. The final report will be reviewed by the Emergency Preparedness Commission for the County and City of Los Angeles.

In addition, the County’s Emergency Medical Services Agency will provide findings, conclusions and strengthening recommendations on all aspects of the pre-hospital and hospital care response, including on-scene responders, supplies, equipment and communications, the triage and hospital assignment process, suitability and availability of patient transport, and of hospital emergency stations, operating rooms, beds, medical specialists and other patient care personnel.

Last Friday’s head-on collision of two trains should never have happened. The victims and families affected deserve and must be given an accurate and complete explanation of what went wrong, said Supervisor Knabe. Furthermore, it must be made evident to all of us in Southern California that the lessons learned translate into an improved, fail-safe rail traffic management system which can be counted on to avoid future train-to-train collisions, without exception.

County Launches Green Award Program

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has started a new Green Leadership Award to recognize sound environmental strategies. The program will help promote "Green" practices in our community and enhance the County’s role as a leader in these efforts by recognizing outstanding environmental sustainability efforts by individuals and organizations.

The competition is open to all County residents, businesses, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, professional and trade’-associations, communities, State, and local government entities. Those who have previously applied will be allowed to apply again.

There will be five categories of awards, four of which will recognize nonprofit agencies, public agencies, businesses and individuals. A fifth award, given by the chair of the Board of Supervisors, will recognize an individual whose leadership and dedication made a significant impact in environmental education.”

Winners will be selected by the county’s Energy and Environmental Policy Team. The Award program will be formally launched in April 2009 to coincide with Earth Day.

Public Health Tips On How To Find A Great Beach

During the summer months, many Los Angeles County residents and visitors enjoy the natural beauty and recreational benefits of our beaches. Before they take that first swim though, they may be wondering if the ocean water is safe, what beach advisories mean, and what they can do to keep our beaches clean.

The vast majority of beach water along the coast of LA County meets State ocean water quality standards, which means it is safe for swimming, surfing, or otherwise playing in the waves, said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. We encourage residents and visitors to keep our beaches healthy and clean by remembering that whatever is discharged into the street or on the ground flows to a storm drain and eventually makes it way into the ocean. People can help prevent ocean pollution by properly disposing of animal waste, pesticides, households paints, chemicals and motor oil, using a broom and dustpan instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks, and by participating in beach clean-up days.

How do you test beach water?

Los Angeles County’s Ocean Water Monitoring Program tests dozens of sampling sites from the Ventura/Los Angeles County border to San Pedro. These sites are tested at least once a week. Samples are also collected at Avalon Beach on Santa Catalina Island from April through October. If beaches are found to have bacteria levels that exceed State health standards, then they are tested more often.

What do warning signs or rain advisories mean?

When bacteria levels exceed State ocean water quality standards, warning signs are posted to let swimmers, surfers, and other beach-goers know that the water in a specific area is unhealthy.

The signs will remain in place until tests indicate that bacteria levels meet State standards. Some areas have permanent signs posted due to historically poor water quality.

A rain advisory is issued anytime there is significant rainfall that may cause bacterial levels to exceed State standards in ocean waters. The advisory stays in effect for 72 hours after rainfall has ended.

On rare occasions, sewage from ruptured sewage lines inland can make its way into the ocean. When this occurs, the affected beach area and water is immediately closed off so swimmers, surfers, and other beach-goers will be protected.

The area will re-open once testing confirms that bacteria levels are again within State standards.

What areas of the beach should I avoid?

It is best to avoid water contact in areas adjacent to or in front of discharging storm drains. Storm drains direct runoff from urban areas to the ocean. While they do not normally contain sewage, water in storm drains can contain disease-causing bacteria. Depending on the amount of flow, the discharging storm drains can affect ocean water quality several hundred yards from the discharge point. Much greater areas may be affected following major rainstorms.

Avoid swimming next to piers. Piers attract birds which may contribute to higher bacterial levels. In addition, plumbing under piers may occasionally be in disrepair and may discharge sewage into the water.

If a beach area is posted with warning signs or is closed, avoid contact with the water in that area. If you have any questions about where it is safe to swim, ask a lifeguard.

How do I find the cleanest beaches in LA County?

Visit our website at www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/beach to see beach grades from A – F. Or call the Public Health Beach Closure and Advisory Hotline at (800) 525-5662 for the latest information on ocean water quality conditions.

A word about sun safety:

Before you take that refreshing dip in the ocean, take a moment to protect your skin, said Dr. Fielding. Skin cancer is still the most common form of cancer diagnosed in the United States, so it is important for men, women, and children to protect themselves by applying a sunscreen with a minimum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15, avoiding tanning and tanning beds, and staying in the shade as much as possible.

Prevention tips:

Use a beach umbrella or other covering to stay in the shade as much as possible.

Avoid sunburn by applying a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day may reduce one’s risk if used properly. Make sure to thoroughly reapply sunscreen after water activities, such as swimming, surfing, or otherwise playing in the waves. Sunscreen should also be reapplied often, even if you are not spending time in the water.

Cover up with long sleeves and pants, and wear a wide-brimmed hat to further avoid sunburn.

Wear UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths. Try a sunless tanner instead.

Infants under the age of six months should be kept out of the sun. Sunscreen should be used on babies over the age of six months, and their exposure to sun should be limited as much as possible.

For more information on sun safety, check the Skin Cancer Foundation’s website at http://www.skincancer.org

It’s Time For Your Flu Shot LA County

Los Angeles County health officials announce that flu vaccines, including FluMist nasal spray, will be available at community health centers and community outreach clinics starting now through early December for groups at high risk for serious complications related to the flu. County community health centers are able to dispense free flu vaccine to qualifying patients without a regular health care provider or whose healthcare provider does not offer flu vaccine, regardless of income level. Qualified patients include those 50 years of age and older, children from six months to five years of age, women who will be pregnant during the flu season, or those with a medical condition that puts them at risk for flu complications (e.g. chronic heart or lung conditions, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS). There is no shortage of flu vaccine this season.

Influenza is a serious and highly contagious illness that is rapidly spread from person to person through uncovered coughs and sneezes. The virus may also be spread by touching an object with the virus on it and then touching ones mouth, nose or eyes. People with flu can start spreading the virus to others one day before symptoms appear and up to five days after showing signs of illness.

Some people could experience a few short-term side effects after getting a flu shot. These include soreness, redness or swelling at the vaccine site, low fever and aches. Symptoms should clear up within two days, but if they do not people should talk to a doctor. Side effects associated with the FluMist vaccine include runny nose or nasal congestion, sore throat in adults, and a fever higher than 100° in children two to six years of age.

For those whose usual health care providers do not have vaccine, other sources are available. Many pharmacies are administering flu vaccine. These and other places can be found by logging onto www.findaflushot.com

The following is the list of stops that the Outreach Program is going to be making in the Fourth District:

County Influenza Campaign Underway

The 2007-2008 Influenza Campaign is underway across Los Angeles County, Supervisor Don Knabe announced recently. The campaign will focus on administering flu vaccinations and delivering information to residents across the County. The campaign’s main program, the Flu Shot Outreach, will be making over 250 stops throughout the County from October 22 to January 6. The Flu Season is already upon us, but it is not too late to get your flu shot, said Supervisor Knabe. With this campaign underway, getting your vaccination will be as accessible as ever.
For other flu clinic information, including a link that allows individuals to search for a flu clinic near them, please visit the Department of Public Health’s immunization program website at http://www.lapublichealth.org/ip/flu/2007-2008.
The following is the list of stops that the Outreach Program is going to be making in the Fourth District:

County to Acquire New Mobile Hospital for Disaster Response

The County of Los Angeles will soon have a new mobile hospital to provide support to local hospitals in the event of a large-scale disaster such as an earthquake, pandemic influenza, or bioterrorism incident, thanks to a Homeland Security grant accepted by the Board of Supervisors.

The $5,390,000 grant will allow the County’s Department of Health Services (DHS), through its Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Agency, to purchase a new Mobile Hospital, medical equipment for the hospital, a warehouse lease to house the hospital, and personal radiation equipment.

The mobile hospital system consists of a tractor-trailer facility and a tent facility. Each facility is self-contained and can be deployed independently of each other depending on the type and scale of the incident. The Tractor-Trailer Mobile Hospital Component consists of two 53-foot tractor-trailers, and will serve as the patient care facility, which includes two surgical suites and ten critical care beds. The Tent Structure Mobile Hospital Component is comprised of four 25-bed tent modules, and can be deployed as a 25-bed, 50-bed, or 100-bed facility. Each module is fully equipped with a heating and air-conditioning system, an electrical power distribution system with generator, folding patient cots and treatment beds, sanitation facilities, and a refrigerator.

DHS applied for the funds through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s 2006 Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) Grant program, which provides funding to address the unique equipment, training, planning and exercise needs of large urban areas. The grant process is being overseen by the California Office of Homeland Security.

This new mobile hospital and emergency equipment will greatly enhance our ability to respond to a natural disaster or an act of terrorism, said Supervisor Don Knabe. I applaud the Department of Health Services for working hard to secure these critical funds.