Wednesday, June 20 , 2018, 2:38 am | Fair 60º


Community Partnerships Form Behind the Scenes of Thomas Fire

Just as there is a Unified Command for firefighting on the front lines of the Thomas Fire, there are partnerships behind the scenes that make all of the information regarding air quality, distribution of masks for residents, announced evacuations, sheltering for people and animals, etc., flowing smoothly.

Partnerships with Direct Relief and the Medical Reserve Corps have made an enormous difference getting masks to county residents to protect them from the harmful effects of unhealthy air. Direct Relief, whose mission is to “improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty and emergencies,” has donated thousands of N 95 masks to distribute in the community. The Medical Reserve Corps, local residents who work in the health care profession and volunteer during disasters, have volunteered countless hours distributing masks at various sites across the county.

More than 25,000 masks were delivered through this partnership on Thursday, and it is anticipated that at least that many will be distributed again Friday. N95 masks will be distributed at the following three locations on Friday until supplies run out:

» Costco in the Camino Real Marketplace, 7095 Market Place Drive, Goleta, starting at 10 a.m.

» Franklin Community Center, 1136 E. Montecito St., Santa Barbara, starting at 10 a.m.

» Albertsons in Carpinteria, 1018 Casitas Pass Road, starting at 10 a.m.

» Montecito, Lower Village, 1400 block of East Valley Road, starting at 1 p.m.

The Santa Barbara Air Pollution Control District and the Public Health Department are working together to assess air quality, to identify health impacts and to inform the community about safeguarding individual health protection. As a partnership, they work to keep the community informed and healthy.

In the animal world, county Animal Services is grateful to Santa Barbara Equine Evac, which is providing care for large animals at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. There were 338 animals, 240 of which were horses, at Earl Warren under the watchful eye of Equine Evac volunteers on Thursday. At the same time, county partners at the Santa Barbara Humane Society are providing safe, quality care for 241 evacuated animals at its site.

There are also facilities for people who have evacuated their homes and need temporary sheltering. UCSB, the American Red Cross, the Department of Social Services and the Public Health Department all play crucial roles in ensuring there is a safe place, food and essentials for those who have been forced to leave their homes.

We are fortunate to live in a region so dedicated in coming together as a community supporting each other while fire departments work to tame the Thomas Fire.

— Susan Klein-Rothschild is deputy director of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.


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