Representatives from California’s public health and disaster management agencies visited Direct Relief on Wednesday to discuss ways for the state and humanitarian organization to collaborate during future emergencies.
The visitors, who included Tom Aherns, Chief of Emergency Response for the California Department of Public Health, and Bill Simonson, Emergency Manager for the Department of General Services, received a briefing on Direct Relief’s facilities, operations and programs.
They also toured the warehouse and explored several Direct Relief disaster-response items, including an Emergency Medical Pack, a solar mobile generator, and a custom-designed N95 mask, used to filter dangerous microscopic air particles created by wildfires.
State officials and Direct Relief staff also discussed the challenging dynamics of disaster response in California, earthquake response, and the management of cold-chain shipment, used to transport temperature-sensitive medications like vaccines – a meticulous, carefully planned process that is a particular strength of Direct Relief’s.
Since February of 2009, Direct Relief has provided more than $133 million in aid to California, sending disaster response supplies, medication intended for chronic disease management, vaccines, and cash grants for disaster recovery to dozens of partners throughout the state.
The organization has been on the frontlines of disaster response for many of the state’s wildfires, including the Camp, Thomas, and Woolsey Fires, and aided in disaster recovery in the aftermath of the Montecito mudslides. In order to more effectively respond to in-state disasters, Direct Relief created a California Wildfire Map that tracks active and past fires, as well as a map designed to show which California communities are made most vulnerable to wildfires based on age, mobility, and relative poverty.
In addition, Direct Relief has developed partnerships and memorandums of understanding with governments all over the world, and has played a formal role in both routine care and disaster recovery alongside government agencies.