MENDOCINO Co, CA, 9/21/22 — Severe heat wave in early September smashes records, sending all-time highs of 117 degrees Celsius in Ukiah and days of triple-digit highs across inland Mendocino County I was. Social services staff went out with the agency’s phone map enabled and made more than 800 calls to reach out to members of the homeless community, people receiving support at home, and at-risk youth. , foster parents, and PG&E medical baseline customers.
These responses, coupled with the lack of major blackouts, appear to have paid off. A spokesperson for Adventist Health told The Mendocino Voice that he was the only person the hospital treated for heatstroke. But as extreme heat like this becomes more common, the Mendocino County Public Health Department has new questions to answer and new responses to develop, says director Ann Molgard.
“We are particularly concerned about low-income people, those living off the grid, or those living on the grid but in areas that are not consistently serviced.”-9 Moon. “We are currently gathering information not only on where these people are in our county, but also on best practices other places that have begun to experience the same heat wave.”
Mendocino County typically operates on a system of cooling stations where people can get water and spend time in air conditioning during the hottest hours of the day. The system ensures that the temperature he hits over 100 degrees for three consecutive days, and at night, according to Morgard, he hits 70 degrees.
Seeing temperatures soar over the weekend, she recalled when Eureka’s National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning beginning that Sunday. Finally, one night the temperature never dropped below 70 degrees for her. Public Health launched a heat plan and urged partners to act.
“We don’t take over during heat warnings,” Molgaard explains. “We rely on our partners. For example, the city of Ukiah itself opened [a cooling station]It opened on Labor Day It was the mayor, Sage Sangiacomo, who opened it because he didn’t want to call his staff over the holidays. I opened it the very day I found out. ”
Molgard said public health began receiving new directives from the state in the coming weeks as California was reeling from high temperatures and given the reality that climate change would make these events more frequent.
“Everybody realizes that we can’t treat this as a once-in-a-five-year event,” she said. It’s good for us.”
State public health departments are beginning to develop new formulas for opening cooling stations in response to heat waves. But it also looks like the cooling stations are underutilized. The city of Ukiah only reported attendance at the cooling station on Tuesday, according to Heidi Corrado, program manager for the Emergency Preparedness Unit of the Mendocino County Public Health Department, although the station was open on weekdays. I don’t see any increase in traffic. Public health staff believe this is largely due to the fact that the county was not affected by rolling blackouts.
“We credit the people of California for paying attention to FlexAlert and saving electricity at a critical time,” Corrado said in an email to The Voice. he had power ”
The communications staff at the local public health department is also fairly new, and staff are improving how they notify communities about disasters and safety risks.
“We have had some great learning opportunities over the last year, including staff capacity building to attend many professional information and resource meetings, community knowledge and information sharing platforms that are vital in emergency situations, and more. We have identified areas of focus,” spokesperson Maya Stuart wrote in an email to The Voice.
The social services department, which is primarily responsible for checking on the most vulnerable people in Mendocino County during this heat wave, remains 27% short of staff.
“We are improving our processes and strategizing new ways to hire more staff while supporting our current workforce and their workload,” spokesperson Willow Anderson told The Voice. “We are extremely proud of the dedication and dedication our staff bring to their work and the level of care they provide to community members.”
Governor Gavin Newsom recently approved several laws aimed at both preparing for the heat and mitigating the climate. Goals of these bills include the establishment of an advisory board to study the effects of extreme heat on California’s workers and economy (AB 1643). Formation of the nation’s first extreme heat warning and ranking system (AB 2238). and, importantly, funding for the creation of climate resilience districts at the local level to address extreme environmental challenges, including high heat (SB 852).
These are based on Protecting Californians from Extreme Heat: State Action Plan for Building Community Resilience, published by the State of California in September. Its priorities are:
• Implement a statewide public health surveillance system to identify heatstroke events early, monitor trends, track illnesses and intervene to prevent further harm.
• Accelerate preparedness and protection of communities most affected by extreme heat, including through cooling schools and homes, supporting community resilience centers, and scaling up nature-based solutions.
• Protect vulnerable people through codes, standards and regulations.
• Expand economic opportunities and build a climate-smart workforce that can operate and cope with extreme heat.
• Raise public awareness to reduce the risks posed by extreme heat.
• Protect natural and working lands, ecosystems and biodiversity from the effects of extreme heat.
“It will be interesting to come back a year from now, and five years from now, and see what new programs exist in public health,” Molgaard said. “There is no doubt that we must commit people and resources to climate change and its impact on local people.”
To contact Public Health for information about extreme heat or other concerns, residents should contact the Call Center during business hours at (707) 472-2759. Visit the public health Facebook page. Or sign up for electronic notifications from Public Health.
Note: Kate Fishman For Environment and Natural Resources on The Mendocino Voice, a Reporting to AmericaHer position is funded by the Mendocino Community Foundation, Report for America, and Readers. She can make a tax-deductible donation here or email her to support Fishman’s cause. [email protected]Please contact her at [email protected]. or (707) 234-7735The Voice maintains editorial control and independence.