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‘No More’ Unveils the California License Plate to Fund Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Programs

IMG_0400Reports show that 12.7 million people are physically abused, raped or stalked by their partners in one year and today California policy makers came one step closer to getting that number down dramatically.

Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci joined Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles), Assm. Susan Eggman, Assm. Cristina Garcia, Celebrity Actress and NO MORE Ambassador AnnaLynne McCord, Jill Morris with NO More, Executive Director for CALCASA and Executive Director, Kathy Moore for the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence unveiled a new license plate that takes a stand against domestic violence and sexual assault.
IMG_0447“The national NO MORE campaign is honored and thankful to Assm. Gomez and all the agencies that helped make the California NO MORE license plate possible,” said Jill Morris with national NO MORE campaign.  “This project will raise awareness about the issues as well as resources for the agencies that protect and assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. We think it is a model program and hope other states create similar initiatives.”

To put those millions of victims into another perspective, that’s approximately the population of New York City and Los Angeles combined or 24 assaults every minute.  In response, Assm. Gomez authored and successfully passed Assembly Bill 2321 to create the license plate to raise awareness and funding for domestic violence and sexual assault programs throughout California.
“Domestic violence and sexual assault affects more than just its victims, it impacts everyone,” said Assm. Gomez.  “In California we don’t wait, we act. We wanted to allow people to play an active role in this cause by doing something small, but significant, to say ‘No More!’ to domestic violence and sexual assault. By purchasing the California Says NO MORE license plate, residents will help send real dollars to real programs that make a difference to the fight to end domestic violence and sexual assault.”

Cal OES administers funding and coordinates a number of victim services programs. Specialized staff provides support services like intervention, advocacy and shelter to survivors and children of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“We are honored to play a role and to sponsor this NO MORE license plate and look forward to working with Assm. Gomez and other partners,” said
Cal OES Director Ghilarducci. “California will be the first state in the nation to provide this specialized plate and whose cars will carry the important message that Californians say ‘No More to domestic violence and sexual assault.’”

To be among the first in the nation to have this specialized license plate visit www.NoMorePlate.org.

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Wildfire Awareness Week Kicks Off Near the Site of the 2014 Kings Fire

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SACRAMENTO, CA – Yesterday’s press event in Pollock Pines kicked off Fire Awareness Week that is the first out of five events scheduled throughout California.  Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci joined Cal Fire Director Chief Pimlott, CA Natural Resources Agency Secretary Laird, CA Military Department General Baldwin, Amador El Dorado Unit Chief Kaslin, U.S. Forest Region 5 Regional Forester Moore and other officials who had a chance to speak about the importance of Wildfire Awareness Week.

The purpose of Wildfire Awareness Week is to raise public awareness of wildfires and promote actions that reduce the risk from wildfire to homes and communities.  Fifteen states and four Canadian provinces will observe Wildfire Awareness Week this year.  The International Association of Wildland Fire has proclaimed May 3-9 to be “Global Wildfire Awareness Week”.

IMG_0307 (2)“It’s no accident that the King’s fire is the backdrop for today’s press conference,” said Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott. “What you see behind me is the potential this year and across the state of California. We are standing here today in a 4th year of unprecedented drought in California that has had far reaching impacts on the state,” he added.  “With the perspective of wildland fire, it means critically dry vegetation that is ripe to burn at explosive rates,” said Pimlott.

Wildfires area a natural, periodic occurrence in California and many native species depend on cyclical fires for survival.  Unfortunately, this natural process often conflicts with human land use, and careless or malicious human activity causing many fires that would not have occurred naturally.  IMG_0302 (2)

Yesterday’s press conference held near the site of last year’s King Fire, started on September 13, 2014 and lasted until October 31, 2014.  This fire burned through 97,000 acres before it was contained.  The resulting damage from the fire consisted of destruction of 12 single residences and 68 other minor structures, resulting in 12 injuries.

IMG_0312 (2)“While these impacts were felt intensely by individuals, the local area and the state, the first response efforts demonstrated our capacity to work together during times of crisis,” said Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci. “We witnessed over a dozen agencies, both public and private, participate in a coordinated response and contain the wildfire,” he added.  “I urge all Californians to consider their specific wildfire risks to their communities, places of work and play and make an emergency plan today to make yourself and your families more resilient for this fire season, drought or other man-made and natural threats that we face within California,” said Ghilarducci.

Officials thanked everyone who has been challenged over the course of what is now the 4th year of this devastating drought.  For those who continue to be proactive and work hard under extreme drought conditions.  To the partners in the private sector for their continuous and unwavering support and last but certainly not least the first responders who have stepped up to meet the challenge, as we face what is expected to be another prolonged and intense fire season.

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CDFA Holds Public Drought Forum

Approximately, 120 people showed up at the Fresno Fairgrounds to attend a drought forum hosted by the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. In addition to the CDFA Board Members, other state officials in attendance included California Department of Food & Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross; Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency Secretary Anna Caballero; Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci; Board of Food and Agriculture President Craig McNamara; and California Department of Water Resources Drought Manager Bill Coyle.

Speakers talked about current drought conditions, restrictions for conservation, and possible solutions for the future. Secretary Ross spoke of the Innovation Technology Fund of which the CDFA is actively involved. “We need these ideas to get to the next phase of how we conserve water at a whole new level,” she said.

The forum was open to the public and the board members heard comments from farmers, landowners, and concerned citizens. One of the concerns on a lot of people’s minds was if additional mandatory restrictions would be enforced. Director Ghilarducii responded that, “We are evaluating steps that need to be taken every day.”

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DENIM DAY 2015

If you were wondering why people were dressed a little more casual than usual Wednesday, it was for a good reason. April 29th was Denim Day, a campaign started 16 years ago in response to an overturned rape conviction in Italy because the victim was wearing tight jeans.

With April being Sexual Awareness Month, Denim Day has become the highlight and a way to bring attention to the misconceptions that surround sexual assaults. In addition to a progressive online campaign, many communities, campuses, and organizations participated in events as a show of support to end sexual violence.

This year’s event in Sacramento took place on the West steps of the Capital, which was attended by a number of legislators that have authored, sponsored, or supported bills to help bring justice to victims of sexual and domestic violence.

“This event pushes back on the culture that it is okay and everybody is doing it,” said Senator Jean Fuller. “Someone will hear and know that they can be helped and reach out.”

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The Victim Services Grants Division at Cal OES provides funding to programs serving victims of sexual assault, as well as domestic violence and child abuse. The sexual assault programs are designed to address sexual violence through a variety of efforts including education and training, rape crisis centers, and the training of forensic medical personnel.

“Last year over 26,000 survivors of sexual assault were provided crisis intervention services in California and almost 13,000 survivors received advocacy services,” said CalOES Assistant Director of Grants Management Gina Buccieri-Harrington. “However, our work is far from finished.”

Those attending the event this year were welcomed to sign a “Pledge To End Sexual Violence” board, which was filled with signatures by the end of the day. Visit DenimDayInfo.org for more information.

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California Deploys Urban Search and Rescue Team to Aid in Nepal Earthquake Response

Cal OES & Fema Logos

Today, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. approved the deployment of Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 2 (CA-TF2) through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to aid in the response to the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck central Nepal.

At the request of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Nepalese officials, CA-TF2, which consists of 57 personnel, will assist local emergency operations in and around the hardest hit areas of the country conducting search and rescue operations.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Nepalese people and we are eager to get our world-class first responders on the ground to help those that are still being impacted by this terrible event,” Cal OES Director, Mark Ghilarducci, said.

The earthquake struck Nepal at approximately 11:11 p.m. PST on April 24 at a depth of about nine miles. The epicenter is northwest of Kathmandu, the nation’s capitol. Aftershocks are significant in number and intensity, continuing to cause further damage. The Task Force is expected to arrive on Monday in Kathmandu, Nepal.

CA-TF2, sponsored by the Los Angeles County Fire Department, is one of eight such State/National teams that make up the California Urban Search and Rescue Program. These teams have specialized skills and equipment to assist during major disasters, CA-TF2 alone has six canine search handlers. They also carry survival and rescue kits that contain anything from heavy concrete cutting equipment, chainsaws, search cameras and sonar to locate victims, specialized communications and generators. In a forward-leaning effort to prepare CA-TF2 for deployment all team members were put on alert status within hours of the earthquake to prepare personnel and equipment for a potential deployment.

Members in California Urban Search and Rescue teams have been deployed for duty during Hurricane Katrina, 2010 Haiti earthquake, 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami, 2013 Oklahoma tornadoes, 2014 Washington State mudslide and many other of the world’s major disasters.

Inside the Eye of the Storm: The Cal OES/NOAA Tsunami Exercise

NOAA and the Calif. Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) conducted a test of the tsunami warning communications system on March 25th in coastal areas of central and southern California.

NOAA’s National Weather Service Offices in Monterey, Oxnard and San Diego broadcast the “Required Monthly Test,” and was also broadcast on NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, local television and radio stations. Cal OES collaborated with 20 coastal counties in addition to NOAA and the Civil Air Patrol to carry out the annual Tsunami Warning Communications Test. This year the weather cooperated with exercise and allowed the Civil Air Patrol to participate in a flyover in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties. During the test, the CAP tested their capability to alert the public of a simulated tsunami warning using an on-board public address system.

There were three measures of success for the test: (1) No one called 9-1-1, so the drill communications regarding this was effective; (2) No one got hurt in the test; and (3) the technology was tested and recommendations for improvement were identified. All three were met.

Here’s how it all went down.

As part of the test, the sponsoring agencies sought public feedback on the performance of notification systems, including, Emergency Alert System, weather radio, local siren systems, aerial notification and social media. As of this writing, feedback is still being evaluated to determine how to improve effectiveness in providing clear, timely warnings. While many were pleased with the test, public feedback suggests that some locations were challenged by competing noise levels, such as the surf or mechanical processes. In other cases, electrical static complicated message clarity. Some feedback suggested broadening the capabilities by utilizing other notification systems, such as those available on college campuses.

The Tsunami Steering Committee will meet to hear the exercise feedback and determine how we can continue to improve our capabilities to alert and warn the public in the event a tsunami warning issued by NOAA for coastal California.

Plumas County Hosts Train Derailment Exercise

Train Crossing a Bridge

Plumas County Office of Emergency Services hosted the first in a series of exercises today, focusing on train derailments and hazardous materials spills. Held in the town of Quincy at the Plumas County Fairgrounds, there was representation by over 23 local, state, federal agencies, private sector and public utility stakeholders.

This exercise series builds awareness and understanding of the train derailment spill and response capabilities in California. “It’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen, but when it’s going to happen,” said Battalion Chief Russ Fowler of Butte County CalFIRE. “Having all of us together before something happens gives me much more optimism.”

If you live or have visited Plumas County you know why a derailment would be cause for concern. Known for its many lakes, rivers and forests, this is one of the most beautiful regions of our state. Even the sight and sound of an occasional train traveling through the area adds a strange sense of nostalgia and beauty to this rural land. Train tracks run through acres of lush greenery, over scenic bridges and along stretches of creeks and rivers. While precautions are taken to avoid any type of derailment, it is always a good practice to prepare for the worst.

“Other than a real disaster,” said Jim Ayre, Deputy Superintendent of the California Specialized Training Institute. “This is really the only opportunity to have all the first responders and key stakeholders in the same room focusing on the same issue.”

Today’s exercise was a 4-hour discussion where participants were presented with a scenario of a train carrying oil, which derails into the Feather River Canyon. In the scenario, oil from leaking tank cars enters the river threatening fish, wildlife and water supply. The fire threatens to spread to cars in a tunnel and there is an explosion risk.

The participants openly discussed response plans to such a scenario. They identified each agencies roles and capabilities, including communications, operational coordination, and training. Jim Bailey, of the California Specialized Training Institute, moderated the session and made certain that all exercise issues were addressed.

As with any disaster, Cal OES is able to coordinate resources necessary from anywhere in the state to assist the local partners in dealing with the disaster at hand. Today’s exercise was an opportunity to get all the first responders, key players, and stakeholders in one room to review the plans that are currently in place to address an incident of this magnitude.

“Even though this exercise focused on oil, it is important to realize we are concerned about any kind of hazardous material and ready to respond,” said Tom Campbell, Cal OES Deputy Chief of Hazardous Materials Fire and Rescue Branch.

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