Evacuating large groups of people with little notice during an evolving wildfire event is challenge enough in any other year. But in 2020, the added risk to evacuees and responders from COVID-19 exposure hangs ominously over an already difficult effort. So what is being done to balance this current reality? The latest NFPA Podcast talks with Luke Beckman, a director at the Red Cross Pacific Division, to learn how the organization revamped its response plans and operations ahead of the massive wildfires now striking Northern California.
I caught up with Jesse Roman, Associate Editor of NFPA Journal and the host of The NFPA Podcast, to learn what stood out to him from the conversation. Jesse shared, “It was amazing to learn how the pandemic forced the Red Cross to completely change so many aspects of its disaster response. Even things like feeding and sheltering evacuees—stuff the Red Cross has been doing a very long time—suddenly had to be completely re-imagined in just a few months because of the virus."
Jesse went onto explain that, “It’s incredible how quickly they were able develop new strategies, train their huge staff of volunteers, and be ready to jump right into action when the fires hit.”
This conversation, "Disaster Planning During a Pandemic", has additional insight about similar evacuation planning for late July’s Hurricane Isaias, and can be found under the “Latest Podcasts” from August on The NFPA Podcast page. Previous editions are also worth your time and you can listen and subscribe to it on Apple, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.