Kenai Conversation: Dan Nelson, KPB Office of Emergency Management

Dec 19, 2018

It's been a busy year for the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Office of Emergency Management, from floods to tsunamis to earthquakes. On this week’s Kenai Conversation, OEM manager Dan Nelson talks about the borough's response to such events and upcoming opportunities for residents to become part of the response team.

Interview highlights-

On how social media can influence response to a disaster:

"Unfortunately, and I don't think it's intentional by any means, somebody might put out some unverified information or a guess or (that) they heard something, and it all of a sudden goes on social media and it gets retweeted or shared and now we have this misinformation going out. A lot of our public information (process) is not only getting information out, but we try as much as we can  to monitor social media to counteract rumors. Because that unverified information can be detrimental when we're in a life-safety situation like a tsunami."

On avoiding evacuations during emergency events:

"Shelter in place, how we talk about it now, is being able to stay in your home if you're prepared, and being able to have people where they are instead of trying to evacuate. We're going to evacuate if we need to; if it's an imminent threat and we've got life and safety at risk we're going to do it. Just like the wildfires or the tsunami warnings, we're going to get people out or to high ground. For the most part, though, we don't have great places to go (or many routes out). It's a little bit better to get people more resilient, to be at home to be at their office, to be able to shelter in place instead of getting to those evacuations. I don't want to call it a last resort, but it's not (always) the best option."

On the usefulness of Community Emergency Response Training (CERT):

"We're not going to teach you how to be a firefigher, we're not going to teach you to be an EMT, we're not going to put you into rescuing (someone) from a collapsed building. People go through this kind of basic training course, and it covers a lot of different things...it teaches fire suppression, utility control. How do you know when to turn off the gas and electricity and those types of things; disaster medical operations which is kind of like disaster first aid so you can treat things right away when you can't get to the hospital or emergency services are going to be delayed."

Learn more about CERT opporunities here.