UCSF Activates Disaster Assistance Team, Holds Town Hall Following Earthquake in Haiti

The UCSF Police Department’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) Division has been monitoring the catastrophic situation in Haiti following a 7.0 earthquake that struck the island country on Tuesday. 

Christopher Jones, director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management at the UCSF Police Department, will conduct a town hall meeting today at 3 p.m. in Toland Hall to discuss the needs of national and international disaster relief organizations, and the most appropriate ways the UCSF community can provide support and assistance to the people of Haiti.

Jones spent seven years coordinating disaster response activities for the National Disaster Medical System, including the Sept. 11, 2001 attack upon World Trade Center and Hurricane Katrina.  He will provide insight into what individuals can expect when entering disaster areas, the challenges for volunteers and disaster response organizations in supporting volunteers in a disaster zone.

According to iJet, UCSF’s international travel intelligence provider, there are no UCSF faculty members, staff or students known to be in Haiti at this time. iJet is able to provide emergency assistance to all registered UCSF travelers as well as notify UCSF when travelers are in regions affected by a disaster or emergency. 

UCSF Chief of Police Pamela Roskowski has activated the UCSF Disaster Assistance Team for External Emergencies.The team will be addressing how to coordinate and balance UCSF operational needs with the desire of individuals who may want to volunteer in Haiti.

Typically, there is a spontaneous desire by individuals to go to a disaster zone to provide assistance. However, it is critical that individuals wanting to go into a disaster zone, be part of an organized disaster response team and organization, so that transportation, shelter, feeding, equipment, and supply chain logistics can be provided to support the volunteers activities, and provide for their safety, says Christopher Jones, director of Emergency Management in the UCSF Police Department. 

Disaster response organizations generally want interested individuals to volunteer before a disaster to become trained as a team member, get credentialed for their disaster skills and be pre-immunized, Jones adds.

At this time, most disaster relief agencies are seeking monetary donations. Clothing and food is discouraged as it is expensive to ship, and may be inappropriate for the environment and conditions.

Disaster Assistance Team

This morning, UCSF Police Department held a conference call to discuss the Disaster Assistance Team (DAT) plan, which was developed in July 2006 following Hurricane Katrina. The purpose of the call was to establish awareness of the earthquake in Haiti and to identify and address the issues such as:

  • Developing a process to identify UCSF faculty, staff and students wanting to deploy to Haiti as a volunteer, and coordinate approval of their absences to prevent a negative impact upon UCSF operations or their academic studies;
  • Issuing guidelines or policies on use of leave, travel health insurance, etc.;
  • Issuing guidelines or policies to individuals volunteering to go to Haiti with other organizations as to their status as UCSF faculty, staff or students during the deployment;
  • Coordinating and managing information distributed to the UCSF community about volunteering or assisting with earthquake relief efforts.

The UCSF Police Department’s HSEM Division will work with UCSF Public Affairs to provide information about volunteer and donation opportunities for Haiti via UCSF Today.

If you would like to volunteer in Haiti, please contact Jones via email for direction.

In light of the 4.1 earthquake last week in Milpitas, Saturday’s 6.5 earthquake in Eureka, and Tuesday’s 7.0 earthquake in Haiti, all UCSF faculty, staff, students and affiliates are urged to prepare personal and family emergency kits and plans for home, cars, and work/school. More information can be found here.

A Red Cross emergency assistance training program is being offered at UCSF on Wednesday, Jan. 20 from 1 to 4 p.m. on how to manage an emergency shelter. UCSF is currently seeking volunteers for care-and-shelter teams to respond when an earthquake strikes in San Francisco. See this UCSF Today story for details.  For registration information about care-and-shelter teams, contact the UCSF Police Department.

Related Links:

American Red Cross

UCSF Police Department

UCSF Risk Management & Insurance Services