Submitted by Sky Terry – The 2018 installment of the SCAPA DART Mobilization Exercise at the South County Airport in San Martin, CA overcame heavy rain showers and IFR weather to expand the envelope in disaster preparedness for local emergency response agencies collaborating to alleviate potential transportation gridlocks.
South County Aiport, San Martin (E16) via Kluft Photo – Wikipedia
Organizations directly participating in concert with SCAPA DART in the annual exercise were the Silicon Valley chapter of the American Red Cross, Morgan Hill and Gilroy CERT, Morgan Hill Office of Emergency Services, CALFIRE, The Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, Reid Hillview CAAPSO, Santa Clara Valley 99s, Angel Flight West, and the Gilroy Compassion Center. Also present as observers were Dana Reed, Director of Santa Clara County OES, and Jennifer Ponce, Morgan Hill Office of Emergency Services Coordinator.
Although most flights were cancelled due to inclement weather, late in the exercise the weather cleared. Colette Armao, retired Caltrans Division of Aeronautics, was flown in from Sacramento McClellan airport to participate as an observer, and a food transportation flight was launched and recovered. Several flights were scheduled and assigned payloads on a virtual basis.
Significant community-related benefits and outcomes to this year’s exercise include:
First time that everyone in the surrounding communities was invited to participate by driving through the Commodity Point of Distribution at the airport where they could pick up flown-in disaster relief supplies – in this case a souvenir bottle of water.
First use of Facebook and Nextdoor to announce the exercise to local communities
½ page stories in 2 local newspapers announcing the exercise
First collaboration of SCAPA DART with the American Red Cross
First partnering with the Second Harvest Food Bank to transport food
First California DART Network collaboration with Angel Flight West
654lbs of food donated to the Gilroy Compassion Center
First on-site exercise participation by county OES
SCAPA Co-Chairs Rod Pharis and Paul Marshall thank Mark van Wyk for stepping up as this year’s Director of Operations for the exercise, as well as the entire SCAPA team and so many partnering organizations for improving preparedness for the next big one.
We give special thanks to the San Martin Lions for funding a portion of our operating expenses this year. In the words of our founder Rod Pharis – “this was SCAPA DART’s best mobilization exercise yet!”
See the pictures below that tell the story.
Mark Hineser of the San Martin Neighborhood Alliance and Craig Hofstetter of Reid Hillview CAAPSO wheel out material handling carts and team supplies onto the ramp in a light rain Saturday morning.
Mark Hineser from the San Martin Neighborhood Alliance towed the Operations shelter out of the county hangar over to the ramp where a primitive terminal was set up to host materiel and passenger air transportation services.
Frank Giancola in the yellow hard hat brought his flat-bed trailer and class 4 truck to take the heavy weights, generator, radio antennas and other equipment to the ramp.
Simone Cesa de Melo (kneeling) Diane St Denis(foreground) of the American Red Cross and Jim Petersen set up a service desk where the American Red Cross could offer nursing services, trauma counseling, and emergency shelter services.
Mo Ghandehari, Mass Care Lead for the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, briefly opened up a shelter across the street at the San Martin Lions Club building. The building serves as a shelter during a disaster. Thank you San Martin Lions for supporting our operating expenses this year!
Diane Baker Hayward of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties talks with Paul Marshall, SCAPA DART External Agencies Liaison Director. The bay area food banks sourced most of the one half million pounds of food and supplies delivered to the Watsonville Airport after the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989.
Walt Gyger and Kim Weber man the ham radio and aviation radio for the exercise. Ham radio provides a direct connection to the Emergency Operations Centers in Morgan Hill, Gilroy, and Santa Clara County. The aviation radio connects the DART Operations Center with pilots operating on the ground or in the air over the south Santa Clara County.
Jennifer Ponce (Morgan Hill OES) and Randy Christenson (Morgan Hill CERT) share a light moment. Jennifer worked with Ken Hulick of CAL FIRE (pictured below) to devise and operate the Commodity Point of Distribution, which could be used in a disaster to provide drive-through service for local residents needing food and water.
CAL FIRE’s Ken Hulick, C-POD Manager, discusses with Eugene Hill who acted as gate monitor how to direct cars from the community through the C-POD located on the airport’s south ramp.
Volunteer Recruitment Manager Bette Gardner and Ramp Manager Jim Petersen put on their DART vests.
Rain gave way to a low overcast which was below IFR minimums and resulted in the cancellation of most of the day’s planned flights. Highway 101, San Martin Ave, Monterey Hwy, Church St and Murphy Ave are all near the airport, providing a superb logistics center for South County.
CAL FIRE Captain James Novak and CERT volunteer Gaylan Morgan put yellow caution tape on traffic posts to guide the cars through the C-POD. Special thanks to CAL FIRE Chief Crawford who authorized the truck and driver to transport C-POD gear to the site.
Kristyn Bell Morin, Ken Hulick, and Wayne Rhoten log in a food donation in the C-POD while reviewing the operations manual. This C-POD gave a water bottle to each member of the community who visited, and took community food donations for the Gilroy Compassion Center. Cars stopped at two stations to drop off and pick up.
Materiel Manager Kent Mazzia oversees the 654 pounds of food donations – weighing and bagging each donation so that it could be put on a plane and delivered to the needed location.
Flight Operations Manager Mike Brogley and Flight Operations Staff Jeff Mohler work on matching the donated food and passenger flight requests to the available planes. Inclement weather caused the cancellation of numerous flights and created scheduling challenges. Angel Flight West, with its large network of pilots in the western USA, is an escalation resource for the California DART Network and provided a scheduled flight for this exercise.
Late in the morning the skies started clearing and SCAPA pilot Brad Richards was able to make a food transportation flight in his Cessna Aerobat, and ramp crewman Gene Hudson guided him back into position upon his return.
Brad unloaded some of the 654 pounds of food that was donated during the exercise. The Second Harvest Food Bank had the largest donation at 190 pounds, but all volunteers contributed something. Donations went to the Gilroy Compassion Center.
Around noon Ramp Manager Jim Petersen smiles as pilot Robert Blake (opening the door) arrived from Sacramento McClellan airport with Colette Armao (right margin). Colette was an early supporter of the SCAPA DART, providing encouragement for the DART’s foundation and editorial suggestions for the original Disaster Airlift Response Plan (DARP) authored by Rod Pharis. She recently retired from Caltrans Division of Aeronautics, and prior to that worked in logistics and operations in the Air Force. The DARP appeals to her as a sound framework replicating on a limited volunteer budget what the Air Force does with air transportation at massive scale.
SCAPA DART Founder, Co-Chair and DARP Author Rod Pharis summed up the day saying “this was SCAPA DART’s best mobilization exercise yet!” Mark van Wyk, Operations Director for the day’s exercise conducts the debriefing to review the day’s activities and get feedback on what could be done better next time.
Dana Reed in the blue shirt, the Director of the Office of Emergency Services for Santa Clara County, had a long talk on the ramp with pilots Carol Munch of the Santa Clara 99s, Craig Hofstetter of the Reid Hillview CAAPSO, Paul Marshall of SCAPA (shown here left to right), and several others. Dana came away with a deeper understanding of the potential value that general aviation people can provide working through DARTs to alleviate transportation problems arising in big disasters that cripple regional surface transportation. He also gave the pilots pointers on how to work in the system and outlined some issues that we will want to address going forward. All four county general aviation airports (Palo Alto, San Martin, Reid Hillview, and San Jose International) can provide tremendous value by helping emergency workers commute to work, delivering food to areas whose grocery store shelves are empty, evacuating residents rendered homeless by massive destruction, bringing in additional search and rescue and medical people to supplement local personnel, and so on. Moffett Field, also in the county, will be used by the military for additional bulk-payload transport and helicopter operations.
The day’s greatest success was bringing together the people in so many different organizations active in disaster to become better prepared to help the community in time of urgent need to deliver effective, free air transportation services when regional surface transportation is paralyzed.
Here’s a big thank you to the groups who made it happen -the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, the Santa Clara County Office of Emergency Services, the American Red Cross, Morgan Hill and Gilroy CERT, San Martin Neighborhood Alliance, San Martin Lions Club, SCAPA DART, Santa Clara Valley 99s, Reid Hillview CAAPSO, Angel Flight West, The City of Palo Alto Office of Emergency Services, The Morgan Hill Office of Emergency Services, CAL FIRE, and the Gilroy Compassion Center.
Sky Terry is the Emergency and Disaster Response Editor at Seaplanemagazine.com and has written extensively on the topic of incorporating General & Business Aviation into the mix of first response after natural disasters. If you wish to get involved in the effort or begin developing your own plan to start an Emergency Response Team, please contact him via Email. To learn more about the Emergency Volunteer Air Corps visit EVAC.org. Sky Terry also puts out frequent email updates on the progress of these effort reaching a large number of individuals.
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