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California Wildfires

As Another Fire Erupts, Emergency Medical Packs Put to Use

Hours after Direct Relief provided Emergency Medical Packs to Ventura County's Medical Reserve Corps, the packs were deployed at a nearby shelter.

The Ventura County Medical Reserve Corps received 50 Emergency Medical Backpacks on Oct. 31, hours before they were deployed for the Maria Fire, which broke out overnight. The backpacks from Direct Relief contain emergency medical supplies commonly needed in a disaster setting. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)
The Ventura County Medical Reserve Corps received 50 Emergency Medical Backpacks on Oct. 31, hours before they were deployed for the Maria Fire, which broke out overnight. The backpacks from Direct Relief contain emergency medical supplies commonly needed in a disaster setting. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)

Close to central California’s idyllic avocado and citrus orchards, another fire is burning.

Mere hours after Direct Relief delivered 50 Emergency Medical Packs to Ventura County’s Medical Reserve Corps, the Maria Fire broke out in the City of Santa Paula on Thursday night, forcing about 8,000 people to evacuate and surrounding schools to close.

The Medical Reserve Corps, which provides medical aid during large-scale local emergencies, was activated that night and sent to Ventura County’s Camarillo shelter to provide aid, before being relieved on Friday morning.

Receiving the packs “worked out perfect, because we weren’t expecting a fire and then all of a sudden…we got a request from the Emergency Operations Center,” said Erik Hansen, an emergency medical services operations specialist with Ventura County’s Public Health Department.

The fire has burned approximately 9,000 acres. Although it grew aggressively overnight, its progress has slowed, as winds weakened and temperatures cooled early in the morning.

Smoky air floated up the coastline throughout Friday. According to the air quality tracking website Purple Air, Santa Barbara County, approximately an hour’s drive from the fire and the location of Direct Relief’s headquarters, had the worst air quality index in the state of California on Friday afternoon.

Direct Relief staff deliver 50 Emergency Medical Backpacks to the Ventura County Medical Reserve Corps. The group of volunteer medical reservists provide care during the event of a disaster, and have activated during many wildfires in  Ventura County. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)
Direct Relief staff deliver 50 Emergency Medical Backpacks to the Ventura County Medical Reserve Corps. The group of volunteer medical reservists provide care during the event of a disaster, and have activated during many wildfires in  Ventura County. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)

This is the second fire to strike Ventura County in the past few days alone. The Easy Fire, which erupted in Simi Valley earlier this week, burned nearly 2,000 acres, forcing thousands to evacuate and coming close to destroying the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

And in December of 2017, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties were badly hit by the devastating Thomas Fire, which burned more than 280,000 acres and destroyed hundreds of homes.

To aid in the Maria Fire, Direct Relief is providing transportation support to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and is in open communication with Ventura County emergency management. The organization has reached out to offer aid to health care organizations near the affected region.

As always, Direct Relief is focused on both responding to emergency medical needs and ensuring continuity of care at nearby health centers and clinics.

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