Mendocino Public Health in September Heat Record: “We can't treat this as a once in 15-year event" • Mendocino's Voice |  Mendocino County, Cate Mendocino Voice

Mendocino Public Health in September Heat Record: “We can’t treat this as a once in 15-year event” • Mendocino’s Voice | Mendocino County, Cate Mendocino Voice

MENDOCINO Co, CA, 9/21/22 – A major heat wave at the beginning of September broke records, bringing the temperature on record to 117 degrees in Ukiah and a triple-digit rise lasting for days across inland Mendocino County. Social services personnel activated the department’s telephone tree and set out on the road, making over 800 calls to reach homeless community members, those receiving support at home, at-risk youth, foster families, and baseline medical PG&E clients across the county. .

These responses, along with no major blackouts, seem to have paid off; An Adventist Health spokesperson told the Mendocino Voice that hospitals have only treated one person for heatstroke. But as extreme heat like this becomes more common, the Mendocino County Department of Public Health has new questions to answer and new responses to develop, according to Director Ann Mullgaard.

She told The Voice in a phone conversation in mid-September. “We’re gathering information right now, not just where these people are within our county, but what are the best practices, those other places that are starting to experience these same heat waves.”

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Mendocino County typically operates a system in which cooling stations are opened — where people can get some water and spend time on air conditioning during the hottest hours of the day — only when temperatures have been over 100 degrees for three consecutive days and over 70, Mullgaard said. degree at night.

Watching as temperatures rise over the weekend, when the National Weather Service in Eureka issued an overheating warning to begin Sunday, she recalled, “I felt guilty when we didn’t have any cooling stations open yet.” Finally, temperatures won’t drop below 70 one night, and Public Health has launched a heat response plan and urged partners to act.

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“We don’t take responsibility during a heat alert,” Mullgaard explained. “We rely on our partners. For example, the city of Okiya opened itself [a cooling station]. They even opened it on Labor Day, and the one who opened it was Sage Sangiacomo, the city manager, because he didn’t want to call any of his employees on holiday. He opened it that first day when we realized, “Oh no, this is going to get worse, not better.”

Mollgaard said public health is now beginning to receive new guidance from the state in the weeks since, as California rolls back in warmer temperatures and believes these events will only become more frequent due to climate change.

“Everyone realizes that we can’t treat this as a once in 15-year event,” she said. “It’s going to happen more and more, so now the state is more involved – which is good for us.”

The state’s Ministry of Public Health has begun developing a new formula for opening cooling stations in response to heat waves. But it also appears that cooling plants may not be exploited enough. According to Heidi Corrado, program manager for the Mendocino County Public Health Emergency Preparedness Unit, the city of Ukiah only reported attendance at its cooling station on Tuesday, even though the station was open seven days a week, and areas are open for people to escape the heat in Covelo . I don’t see an increase in traffic. Public health officials believe this is primarily due to the fact that the county has not fallen victim to blackouts.

“I credit the people of California for caring about Flex Alerts, and conserving energy during critical periods, so we can conserve energy for everyone,” Corrado wrote in an email to The Voice. He had strength.”

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The communications staff for the local public health department is fairly new, and staff is working to improve how the community is notified of disasters and safety risks.

“We’ve had some excellent learning opportunities over the past year and are identifying areas of focus, including developing employees’ ability to participate in numerous professional information and resource meetings, and community knowledge and information sharing platforms that are vital in urgent situations,” company spokeswoman Maya Stewart wrote in An email to The Voice.

Social Services, the department primarily responsible for checking the most vulnerable areas of Mendocino County during heat events like these, is still understaffed at 27%.

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“We are in the process of improving our operations and strategizing new ways to increase employee recruitment while supporting our existing employees and their workloads,” spokesperson Willow Anderson told The Voice. “We are very proud of the commitment and dedication of our employees to their work and the level of care they provide to members of our community.”

In moves that could be of real benefit to small, often stressful rural administrations, Governor Gavin Newsom recently approved several legislation aimed at both heat preparedness and climate mitigation. The goals of these bills include forming an advisory committee to study how extreme heat affects workers and the economy in California (AB 1643); formation of the country’s first severe heat warning system and arrangement (AB 2238); Most importantly, fund the creation of climate-resilient zones at the local level to meet severe environmental challenges including high temperatures (SB 852).

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This depends on Protecting Californians from Extreme Heat: A State Action Plan to Build Community ResilienceReleased by California in September. Its priorities include:

• Implement a statewide public health surveillance system to identify heat disease events early, monitor trends, and track diseases to intervene and prevent further damage.

• Accelerating preparedness and protection for the communities most affected by extreme heat, including by cooling schools and homes, supporting community resilience centers, and expanding nature-based solutions.

• Protection of populations at risk through laws, standards and regulations.

• Expanding economic opportunities and building a climate-smart workforce that can work and handle extreme heat.

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• Increase public awareness to reduce the risks posed by extreme heat.

• Protect natural lands, work lands, ecosystems and biodiversity from the effects of extreme heat.

“It will be interesting to go back a year from now, five years from now, and see what new programs are in public health,” Mullgaard said. “We have no doubt that we will have to put people and resources towards climate change and its impact on our population here locally.”

For information about extreme temperatures or to access public health with other concerns, residents can call the Business Hours Call Center at (707) 472-2759; Go to Public Health Facebook page; or Subscribe to email notifications of public health.

Note: Kate Fishman Covers the environment and natural resources for The Mendocino Voice in partnership with a Report for America. Her position is funded by Mendocino Community FoundationAnd the Report on America, and our readers. You can support Fishman’s business with a tax-deductible donation over here or by e-mail [email protected]. Contact her at KFishman@mendovoice.com or at (707) 234-7735. The Voice retains editorial control and independence.

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