Welcome Wendy Hess and Ada Wong!

Wendy Hess, RN
I am originally from Santa Barbara, and now my husband Lucas and I live near Watsonville. My job experience includes animal health technology, software, and fire fighting as well as nursing and work as an EMT.

I work at Dominican Hospital where I began as an ED technician and am currently a part time RN. I also work in employee health, where I coordinate with a team that provides equipment and training for safe patient handling and movement.

I am a volunteer for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), and I have participated in three medical missions to El Salvador (see article in Feb 2014 newsletter). I joined DMAT thanks to Bonnie Atencio. DMAT is exactly what I was looking for: EMS in austere environments. I appreciate being welcomed into the DMAT family.


Ada Wong, EMT-P
I work with the San Francisco Fire Department as an EMT, with San Francisco AMR as a paramedic, and with Kaiser San Francisco as an ER technician. I am very new to the field of disaster medicine, but have worked with a medical brigade in Honduras in May 2010.

I was born and raised in Long Beach, but lived in Hong Kong for five years. During my stay in Hong Kong, I learned to read, write and speak Cantonese and Mandarin.

I decided to stay in the Bay Area after attending UC Berkeley. I joined DMAT because of my interest in extending my pre-hospital medical experience and in disaster work.


Uniformed Services


Brandon Bond - Safety Officer

Uniformed Services
What does that mean to you? NDMS was formed in 1984 as a part of the Public Health Service (USPHS) in Health and Human Services. On deployments, you will see USPHS Commissioned Corps officers displaying a profound respect for their country, their service and themselves through the uniform that they wear which dates back to 1871 when John Maynard Woodworth, the first Supervising-Surgeon General (now known as the Surgeon General), organized the service along military lines. The uniforms reflect the proud legacy and tradition of the more than 200-year-old service. Since they represent the Commissioned Corps’ history and tradition, rigorous standards apply to wearing the uniform and every officer upholds those standards with pride.

As DMAT members, we are classified as Intermittent Federal Employees and protected by the Uniform Services Employment and Re-Employment Act (USERRA). When you don your DMAT uniform, you should reflect on the history and tradition and the pride of service that comes with wearing a uniform of the United States of America. Stand up and be proud of the esprit de corps that comes with being a member of DMAT CA-6. Ensure that your uniform is well pressed, your blouse is properly buttoned, your patches are in the correct location, and your boots have a light shine. Represent yourself, your team and country with pride.

A piece of uniform trivia for you to reflect upon
Why is the US Flag on your shoulder backwards? The rule dates back to the US Army's early history, when both mounted cavalry and infantry units would designate a standard bearer, who carried the colors into battle. As he charged, his forward momentum caused the flag to stream back. Since the Stars and Stripes are mounted with the canton closest to the pole, that section stayed to the front, while the stripes flew to the back. It is symbolic of our forward motion, never in retreat!

DMAT CA-6, Care Givers to the Nation.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Disaster Medical Assistance Teams

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Public Health Services Commissioned Corps

U.S. Department of Labor  

About.com US Military


VOL. 14, NO. 2 - MARCH, 2014

Mark Your Calendar

  • Mar 01-31: On-Call (Backfill)
  • Mar 02: Adv Shelter Training
  • May 17: Team Meeting
  • Jun 01-30: On-Call
  • Jun 04-06: Moffett FTX
  • Jul 26: Team Meeting (Change!!)
  • Sep 01-30: On-Call
  • Nov 08: Team Meeting
  • Dec 01-31: On-Call
  • Dec 06: Holiday Party

Monthly Recap

Commander's Corner - Get the scoop on March
The Logistics Scoop 
- Dates for future Logs meetings
What? Me Twitter? - Keeping up with events in a disaster 
Team Fitness 
- Tips on sticking to an exercise plan 
Update: New One-Time Mandatory Online Courses - Really must do these
Administrivia - Scroll down to February, 2014 



David Lipin - Unit Commander

Hello all, and welcome to March! We had a great (and dry) team meeting in February, but are finally getting some much-needed rain. Nowhere near enough, but it's a start.

Mar On-Call
Thanks to all of you who signed up for March on-call. It worked fairly well even though we had an extra month's break, except for a fair number of people who signed up after Feb 10 (you know who you are!). We're going to let that slide for now, but if the trend continues then we're going to have do something about it (like reduce your on-call tier credit). We have to submit our on-call roster by the 15th of the month prior, so if the team's readiness gets assessed on 15 Feb for Mar on-call but you don't sign up until after that, then we have a problem!

Anyway, now it's March so we're on-call! Backfill month so we'd likely just plug a few gaps in another team's roster if needed. But keep an eye on the news regardless, particularly for severe winter weather.

Mandatory online classes

Please read the updated Training article below for two additional mandatory online classes. There are now up to 5 courses we each must take:

  • Ethics: one-time, required of everyone. One-time means you don't need to take it if you already have, so look at your monthly status report or check your Responder eLearn (ReL) course record. You can take it again if you want, but you won't be paid for them. Pay close attention to the course number, as there are multiple Ethics courses with similar names -- take the right one!
  • Psychological First Aid: one-time, required of everyone. Check your monthly status report or ReL record to see if you've taken it before.
  • Privacy Awareness: annual, required of everyone.
  • Information Security: annual, required of everyone.
  • Travel Card: annual, required if you have an HHS credit card. Be sure to download and sign the Travel Card Agreement, and email it to forms@ca6dmat.org.

There's a new ReL FAQ that might help you out if you run into difficulties. Look for it under Other Member Sites --> Responder eLearn FAQ.

The deadline for all classes is Apr 30, unless you are an applicant in which case you will be given a 30-day window to take the classes at some point in the hiring process (look for it).

You must complete the course (slides), the exam, as well as the course survey in order to get credit.

You can submit for pay up to 1 hour per course. If you don't want to be paid, you still need to send an email stating such.

All the details are in the two articles below (the Training article from Feb and the update article in Mar), and check your monthly status report for your specific status with respect to these courses.

Moffett Field FTX, 04-06 Jun

Don't forget to save the dates for this year's field training exercise (FTX)! We don't have the plans finalized yet, but we're hoping to include all the basics like shelter and BoO systems setup, plus some patient care (earthquake scenario) as well as some patient movement, possibly with a military aircraft. All new members and applicants in processing are strongly encouraged to attend.



Joe Telles - Logistics Section Chief

Remember Sunday, Mar 02, is Western Shelter Training at San Francisco Pier 96. All team members are encouraged to attend: setting up tents is a skill that all team members need to have. The training will not only include setting up the tents, but also setting up the tent systems such as electrical and HVAC. Thank you to the City of San Francisco for providing the tents and the facility. Thank you to Steve La Plante for coordinating this training.

Thanks everyone for helping out with the setup and cleanup duties at the February team meeting! So many people helped out, especially at the end of the meeting, that everybody was out of the Fremont Fire Training Facility before 1700 hrs. Thanks again!

Hunter will be acting as CA-6 Logistics Chief from Mar 14 to May 01. If you have any logistic questions or logistic needs during this time frame, please direct them to Hunter. I will be unavailable while hiking the Arizona Trail.

The Logistic meeting schedule for the rest of 2014: Apr 22, Jul 22, and Oct 21. The Logistics meetings are at The Englander, 101 Parrott St., San Leandro, CA, and begin at 1830 hrs. All team members are welcome to attend.



Kathy Burgardt - Training Unit Leader

Bottom Line
Here’s what I learned about Twitter and other social media: we should seriously consider having social media accounts and learn how to follow what others are saying in the event of a disaster – local or otherwise. Word of warning: do not tweet or post in any social media about DMAT or other NDMS activities without authorization. As federal employees, we are enjoined from speaking on behalf of NDMS without prior approval and, as a matter of security, it is not a good idea to speak publicly about CA-6 deployments.

I was able take a social media class offered by Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative (BAUASI) under the auspices of FEMA. The title of the BAUASI class is Social Media for Natural Disaster Response and Recovery. Its purpose is to explain how social media can be used during a disaster, and the arguments for knowing how to use social media are persuasive. Uses of social media include: alerts and warnings, scheduled information dissemination, citizen information exchange, situational awareness, logistics coordination, victim retrieval alerts, rumor management, and monitoring.

Helpful Information
I have wondered for some time why I would want a Twitter account and what I would do with it. Now I know. If DMAT is activated or on standby, I can use the search function on Twitter to find information posted by local authorities and news outlets in the area of the disaster. There is also a Trend function, which allows me to see the popular topics on Twitter. The day after the Grammy awards, the Trend list was mostly about the Grammys and musicians associated with the program, but the day after the Boston Marathon bombing, the Trend list provided valuable information to the citizens of Boston and to law enforcement.

Who to Follow
If you establish a Twitter account, you may not ever post anything, but decide only to follow other people. The question of who to follow was a big one for me until I took the class and decided to focus on disaster and emergency postings. First, we were encouraged to follow everyone in the class as part of the exercise, which gave me a few followers. Then, I started following agencies where I have a personal or professional interest. I am following DMAT members as I discover your names, I am following several Kaiser accounts because I volunteer at Kaiser, and I am following several local police and fire departments.

The number of governmental and non-governmental agencies with social media accounts is constantly increasing. Twitter appears to be the most-used social media platform for government agencies, although many also have Facebook pages as well. While other forms of social media can be expected to come to the forefront of popularity, we can be sure that learning about and keeping up with the new iterations is important to anyone who wants to keep track of current societal activities at the most basic level.

Give social media a try. It is not my intention to keep up with the world of entertainment or politics, but I do think it is important be prepared to access local official information sources in case of an emergency or disaster. Practice working with the various forms now and be ready if and when you need quick information for a deployment. If you would like information on how to enroll in the CalEMA class entitled Social Media for Natural Disaster Response and Recovery, click here.



Joe Telles - Logistics Section Chief

So you’re serious about exercising? To ensure success we must have a plan. The old saying is, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” So, on that thought, let us begin planning. Okay, we have our parameters set by the CDC that a minimum amount of exercise for an adult is 150 minutes weekly of moderate intensity aerobic activity and muscle strengthening exercises at least twice a week.

Review your successes and failures in your past exercise history. If a certain exercise has worked for you in the past with no problems, stick with success. If you have consistently gotten injured from your exercises of choice, maybe consider a new exercise. For example, if running has caused you injuries in the past, consider a new exercise such as walking. If you have been injured from lifting weights, maybe consider push-ups, pull-ups, or other body weight exercises. Or if you have even gotten injured from body weight exercises, consider yoga. If you have always exercised at night, but have found that you often did not exercise when it came time because you were too tired, consider exercising in the morning. Vice versa if you have always exercised in the morning, but found you often didn’t have time because of all the things you had to do to prepare for work, consider working out later in the afternoon or evening. So take these factors into consideration as you answer the following questions to develop your exercise plan.

What type of exercise are you going to do? You need to address both cardio and strength. Cardio exercises include swimming, biking, running, walking, hiking, jumping rope, rowing, etc. Some exercises, such as swimming and biking, address both cardio and strength. Strength exercises include lifting weights and body weight exercise such as push-ups and pull-ups. Yoga should be considered if lifting weights and doing body weight exercise cause problems for your joints.

When are you going to exercise? You should decide when you are going to work out and put it on your daily calendar. Putting it on your daily calendar ensures that you have prioritized exercise and have given yourself time to commit to exercise. The advantage of scheduling your workout in the morning is that you have energy and you get it accomplished early. If you are not a morning person and you are fortunate to get an hour for lunch, think about using a half hour of your lunch to exercise. If morning and lunch is not good for you then late afternoon and evening will be your time. Yes, you are probably busy but you need to make time for your health!

Where are you going to exercise? A gym or fitness center offers you are many advantages. These facilities have quality cardio and strength equipment, they usually offer fitness classes, and many have childcare. The disadvantages of a gym or fitness center are that they cost money and time. It takes time to drive to and from a gym, to wait your turn for your favorite machine, and to use the locker room for dressing, undressing and showering.

Don’t have a lot of money or time? Maybe exercising at home is the choice for you. The advantages of exercising at home are that it costs you nothing and it is time efficient. The disclaimer is that if you have small kids or a spouse who needs your help, it might not be time efficient! There are many exercises you can do from your own home, and a lot of good exercise CDs/DVDs are available. You can also step out your door and go for a walk or a run. There are free exercise programs on the internet. Click here for a link to one of them. 

When you have decided on what exercises you are going to do, when you are going exercise, and where you are going to exercise, your exercise plan is almost complete. Yes, almost complete because every good plan has to have a Plan B. Plan B is what are you going to do when you travel, when it rains, or if a conflict arises at the same time you scheduled to exercise. Plan B might be that you jump rope or do an exercise video inside instead of walking or running outside. Another option for wet weather is that you purchase rain gear so you can exercise in the rain. When you travel, pick a hotel that has an exercise room. If you know you are not going to be able to exercise at your scheduled time, figure out a way to get your exercise in by taking the stairs whenever possible, by parking at the far end of the parking lot, or by changing the time you exercise. Yes, you might have to get up early or exercise during your lunch hour; your health and fitness is that important!

Finally, your exercise plan should include nutrition. No, I’m not saying diet, at least yet - that will be another article. I’m saying to make sure you are hydrated before and during your exercise period, and have eaten before exercise or eat right afterwards. You are going to be burning fuel, water, and electrolytes that you need to replace, so have your water or sport drink handy.

You have your plan! Follow through with your plan and the rewards will be great, your health! 


UPDATE: New One-Time Mandatory Online Courses

Kathy Burgardt - Training Unit Leader

UPDATE: Mandatory Training on Responder e-Learn (ReL)
We missed an update in the previous mandatory online training article (see Training article below), so we're adding that information here for all you over-achievers who are going to rush out and take the mandatory online training!

In addition to the three annual classes required by NDMS, all NDMS members must take two one-time courses: Psychological First Aid (NC 2051) and Ethics Training for Special Government Employees (N 1070). (BE CAREFUL: do not take Ethics for OGE-450 Filers [N 1110] as that is the wrong course!) For newer members, these are familiar requirements that you have probably already satisfied. If you have been in NDMS for a while, then you may have been grandfathered (i.e., not required to take these courses) until now. You may recall having taken these classes on the former online learning system (which is why NDMS grandfathered people), but the courses have been updated so now we must all take them on ReL. CHECK YOUR ReL STATUS AND DON'T TAKE THESE TWO COURSES IF THEY ALREADY APPEAR IN YOUR ReL RECORD! (They will for many of us.)

  • Log into ReL (link to this site is on our Other Member Sites page). Directions for your username and password appear on the ReL home page, upper right hand.
  • You must complete these two classes by Apr 30 if ReL shows you as incomplete, regardless of whether you took them before on the previous online system. (You can also check your monthly status report; these 2 courses, along with the 3 annual courses, will show up at the top of the online training section. And of course you'll get automated email reminders every couple of weeks until you've completed them.)
  • You may submit a timesheet for 1 hour for each of these courses (or actual time, if more than 1 hour and you notify us of your difficulties and follow the instructions to resolve them). Timesheet instructions are on the Forms & Instructions page. Please enter your hours under Headquarters Activity (not Team Readiness or Team Training).
  • You do not need to submit completion certificates because we can see that information in ReL.
  • Contact Training if you have problems with the website.

For those of you unfamiliar with ReL, there are log-in instructions on the ReL home page, and you can contact Training if you have questions. Once you're in, click on My Courses, then NDMS Enrolled Courses, then the Course Part (all of these courses are in N1000-Part 1). Then click on Course Modules (left column) to get to the courses within Part 1. Now click on the specific course you need to take. From here, there are three steps to taking each course:

  1. Go through the Course Content: usually it's a slide show where you click through the pages, sometimes there's an embedded quiz, and sometimes there are "action areas" in the slide that you need to click on (just to make sure you're reading thoroughly). If at some point the site seems to think that you haven't completed the content (or a section of the content), you probably missed clicking on one of these "action areas".
  2. Take the Course Exam: they're all multiple choice or true/false, and you can take it again if you don't pass. So take some notes about material that you're not sure about.
  3. Take the Course Survey: this is a feedback survey; you can answer any way you like, as long as you answer.

You can leave after any of the steps, and return later to complete the others. Once you've completed a course, you can click on My Records (on the top menu bar) to see your course completion status.



VOL. 14, NO. 1 - FEBRUARY, 2014

Mark Your Calendar

  • Feb 01-10: On-call Signups
  • Feb 08: Team Meeting
  • Mar 01-31: On-Call (Backfill)
  • May 17: Team Meeting
  • Jun 01-30: On-Call
  • Jun 04-06: Moffett FTX
  • Jul 26: Team Meeting (Change!!)
  • Sep 01-30: On-Call
  • Nov 08: Team Meeting
  • Dec 01-31: On-Call
  • Dec 06: Holiday Party

Monthly Recap

Commander's Corner - Back from haitus
Training News 
- Get the Agenda for the Feb 8 meeting
The Logistics Scoop - Dates for future Logs meetings 
- Resource for important information 
Team Fitness - Joe Telles has resumed his series on staying fit
On the Road: El Salvador - Wendy Hess traveled to El Salvador 
On the Road: Tacloban, PI - Carol Masterson worked with the Salvation Army
On the Road: Tapaz, PI - Tammy Leung worked with a medical support team
On the Road: Culasi, PI - Aileen Hayes recently returned 


Commander's Corner

David Lipin - Unit Commander

Welcome back, and I hope you all had a Happy New Year! I, for one, appreciated having a few months of down time. But of course the work doesn't actually go away, it just sits there and piles up for us to do in the new year! So this issue is chock full of "catch up" information that has accumulated during our 2 month newsletter haitus. In fact, there's so much that I'm going to save some of mine for later, so we can spend time on the basics for now. Plus, we had quite a few of our members deploy to the Philippines with NGOs, and needed space for mission reports!

Mar On-Call
We've had a nice break from on-call, due to the scheduling "reset". But now it's time to jump back into it. Please leave us your Mar availability on the website (Event Signups) by 10 Feb, so we can assemble and submit our on-call roster by 15 Feb. Remember, all federal members must submit availability (even if you're not available, we still need to hear from you).

New Newsletter Format
With the new year, we've decided to make some changes to the newsletter. They're a bit subtle now, but you'll notice them more as the year progresses.

The most significant change is that we're going to publish articles periodically through the month. This is mostly to save us the end-of-month "crunch time" that seems to always conflict with some other must-get-done activity, but we think it will have some overall benefits. For one, more information! There are quite a few items that we've been passing up each month because the timing just didn't work for a month-end publication date, but now we can just push those items out as they come along. (So send us your training and mission opportunities and we'll post them!) For another, more timely information! By waiting to publish at the end of the month, sometimes we ended up shaving precious days off of registration or sign-up opportunities, so now we get to add those days back in. And finally, smaller, more frequent dosing! We'll give everyone stuff to read throughout the month, for those of you who can't stand it when things are quiet for too long.

Another change (really subtle) is that we're not limiting ourselves to exactly 9 articles per month. (Not something you may have realized, but that's what we've been doing for the past few years.) Now there will be however many articles that there happen to be. To accommodate this, we've changed the pagination from a "one page of articles per month" to "continuous article stream"; as you scroll through the articles, you'll eventually get to older articles that you've already read.

How will you know? Look for the Mark Your Calendar and Monthly Recap (renamed from In This Issue). We will continue to publish these two articles on the first of each month. Below them will be the articles that appeared throughout the month.

Moffett Field FTX, 04-06 Jun
We're in the early stages of organizing a field exercise for this year. Yes, that's right, an actual FTX! It's early yet, but the initial plans call for a joint federal/state FTX involving US&R, CA National Guard (with aircraft!), and CAL-MAT. VA might join in. Of course there are no federal funds available, but we'll try to at least get USERRA coverage for those who need it. So please save those dates, and plan on joining us at Moffett Field for some overnight training: patient stabilization and movement, aeromedical evacuation, basecamp setup, and all the usual accompaniments of an FTX!

Q3 Team Meeting Date Change
To avoid this year's Fremont Art & Wine Festival, we had to shift the date of the Q3 team meeting. It's now 26 Jul, same time and place. Don't forget to update your calendars.

Peru Medical Mission
Aileen Hayes is taking sign-ups for another NGO medical mission to Peru. They are leaving on 5 Jul and returning on 19 Jul. They are looking to fill 20 positions, including translators. If you are interested, click here for more information.

Urban Shield '14
This non-federal event is a great opportunity for us to practice our medical and operational skills under "semi-austere" conditions. It was traditionally held over the last weekend in October, but Urban Shield '14 dates have changed -- set your calendars for Sep 5 – 8.



Kathy Burgardt - Training Unit Leader

Feb 8 Team Meeting
Click here for the agenda for the upcoming meeting.

There will be two important discussions of Typhoon Haiyan. Vivian Reyes will lead the Clinical Ops (pre-meeting) session in a discussion entitled Developing  a Medical Response Mission from an NGO Perspective. Aileen Hayes will lead a panel discussion during Session 4 reporting on our member's (non-federal) responses to Haiyan.

Operations classes will feature Shaun Parlow, Wound Management; Judy O’Young, Blast Injury; and Ed West, Cardiac Patient Management.

Our two levels of EMR training this quarter will be for MD/PA/NP/RPH and RN/EMT-P/RT. The new EMR emulator is now online, so plan to sign up for the computer lab and join Kam McCowan to help set up the protocols for the emulator.

Don’t forget to bring your latest monthly status report to ensure that you are taking your required classes and participating in N-95 respiratory testing, gear inspections and other items as needed. Your status report should arrive via email within a few days of the start of each month.

Mandatory Training on Responder e-Learn (ReL)
For DMAT members with ReL access, there are three annual classes required by NDMS: HHS Travel Card Training (N 1080), Information Systems Security Awareness (N 1090), and Privacy Awareness Training (N 1100). Some of you may recall having problems accessing the classes last year on the HHS University (HHSU) website, so you will be glad to know that they are now in ReL, and should be easier to take and to get credit for.

  • You must log into ReL (link to this site is on our Other Member Sites page). Directions for your username and password appear on the ReL home page, upper right hand.
  • You must complete the three classes by Apr 30. You must take them if you have not taken them in 2014, regardless of whether you took them last year or before. You will receive automated email reminders from us every couple of weeks until you've completed them.
  • You do not need to take the Travel Card course if you do not have an HHS credit card. If you have an HHS credit card, then you must complete this course and print/sign/submit a Travel Card Agreement (available on the ReL page where you take the course; email to forms@ca6dmat.org or fax to 650-412-1815).
  • You may submit a timesheet for three hours for the three courses. Timesheet instructions are on the Forms & Instructions page. Please enter your hours under Headquarters Activity (not Team Readiness or Team Training).
  • You do not need to submit completion certificates because we can see that information in ReL.
  • You do not need to submit a Financial Disclosure Form OGE-450; the ethics course is a bit vague on this point.
  • Contact Training if you have problems with the website.

HHSU will still send email out telling members that they've been enrolled in these courses. Unfortunately, that email goes to all HHS employees and can't be stopped. However, it should be ignored. Do not take the courses on HHSU: take them on ReL instead.

Other ReL classes
And while you're at it, take a look at the other courses on ReL - the ones we want you to take are listed on your monthly status report! Click the My Courses tab on the left side of the upper bar.

Getting the Latest News from Us
Want to know when someone makes a comment in Forums? You can ask to get an email notification when there is a new posting in Hot News, or Forums, or this new News page, or pretty much any page on our website!

  • Navigate to the page that you want to get email notices from
  • Click on your name in the upper right hand corner
  • Select “Subscribe to Page Updates”
  • Then select “Edit Profile” where you can verify your email address
  • Select "Subscriptions" to let the computer know which notices you want

BAUASI Training
The Bay Area Urban Area Security Initiative's Regional Training & Exercise Program is offering ICS 300 in Santa Clara County Feb 19-21. Our members may take it at no charge. Click here for information on how to register for this class and for notification of future classes.




Joe Telles - Logistics Section Chief

Logistics Section Meetings
At the Jan 21, 2014, Logistics Section meeting, the meeting schedule for the rest of 2014 was finalized. The meeting dates will be Apr 22, Jul 22, and Oct 21. The Logistics meetings are at The Englander, 101 Parrott St, San Leandro, CA and begin at 1830 hrs. All members of DMAT and CDMSA are welcome to attend the meetings.

Logistics Training Schedule
Logs training will include Advanced Shelter Systems, Advanced Electrical Systems, Advanced Water Systems, Logistics SOPs, forklift operator training, and Advanced Communications Systems. All members are encouraged and welcome to attend these training sessions. The first training session of 2014 will be on Advanced Shelter Systems, Mar 2, 0900-1600 hrs, Pier 96 in San Francisco. Setting up shelters in a safe and efficient manner takes teamwork and good teamwork is built by working together! So, get your gloves on and help set up tents! Once again I would like to thank the City of San Francisco and Steve La Plante for letting us use San Francisco’s shelters for training. The rest of the Logistic training dates will be announced when finalized.

Gear Inspections
For team members needing gear inspections at the Feb 8 team meeting: gear inspections will be conducted outside the front entrance during Session 4. Please report promptly at 1500 hrs with your gear. You should have all items on the gear list packed so that you can find them easily. Please do not wait until the team meeting is over to ask for a gear inspection, because the inspectors would like to get home too!

Meeting Setup and Clean Up
Thanks to all of you that help with the logistics at the team meetings. Once again we will need help at the Feb 8 team meeting. For those of you interested in helping with set up, please arrive at the Fremont Fire Training Facility at 0800 hrs. Also all team members should make every effort to help with cleanup at the end of the team meeting. 



Bonnie Atencio - Administration Section Chief

New Timesheets
Please note that it is a new fiscal year so there is a new timesheet template available on our website under Forms & Instructions. The old timesheet will no longer be accepted.

Change of Information
Have you moved? Changed a phone number or email address? Send a Change of Address form (write in your new phone number and/or e-mail somewhere on the form) found under Forms & Instructions to forms@ca6dmat.org or fax it to 650-415-1218. Change anything else? Send an Employee Information form (also found under Forms & Instructions).

NDMS ID Card Renewals
Please check the expiration date on your ID card and submit a renewal form six months prior to expiration. You will not be able to deploy without a valid NDMS ID card.

Credit Card Reminder
Renewed credit cards are sent automatically the month of expiration in plain white envelopes to your address on record with us, so please check your mail carefully. If you haven’t received a new card by two weeks prior to the expiration date send an e-mail to administration@ca6dmat.org.

Other things to send
Anything your day-job employer gets, we get too. Medical license, certificates (BLS, ACLS, etc.), training (except training completed on Responder e-Learn), banking information, immunizations, passport, driver’s license, etc. If you do it or renew it – send it!

Employment Verification
For a potential employer who needs to verify your employment with NDMS, the number to call is: 800-367-5690 Code 14775.



Joe Telles - Logistics Section Chief

Team Walks
It is February of another new year. To start off 2014 on a healthy note for CA-6, Steve Woolpert will lead a 20-minute, one-mile fitness walk during the lunch break of our first team meeting on Feb 8. If you haven’t already started your fitness program, the walk is a good time to start for the New Year. Remember, being fit is an important aspect of being a DMAT member (and NDMS has started phasing in physical fitness requirements).

Staying Fit
For most of us, being fit means exercising regularly. The CDC recommends that adults have at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly, and an addition two days a week of muscle strengthening. Break up those 150 minutes into smaller time increments to make it more manageable. A manageable schedule might be exercising in 10 or 20 minute increments. An example would be walking 10 minutes during your lunch break and 20 minutes when you get home from work 5 times a week.

Successful Exercise and Weight Loss
It is helpful to have a goal when beginning an exercise program. A key is to have a goal that is realistically attainable. A good example of a general goal for your exercise program is to “Increase strength and endurance.” Another example of a general goal is “increase my endurance”. Short term goals are more specific than long term goals. Examples of a short term goals include, “I will be able to do 25 pushups at the end of the month” or “I will run a mile in eight minutes at the end of the month”. It is important to set goals that are realistic and attainable.

One of the most common goals we hear from people at the beginning of each year is “I’m going to lose weight”. I am going to suggest that if this has been a goal of yours in the past, and you have been unsuccessful in reaching that goal, then you should set an exercise goal that takes the focus off weight loss. If we take our focus off weight loss and focus on the positive benefits of exercise such as increasing endurance, becoming stronger, sleeping better, reducing stress, and increasing energy, we can appreciate the true benefits of exercise. So, weigh yourself once before you begin your new exercise program and then put that scale out of sight. For the next three months, be dedicated to your exercise program, focusing each day on how you feel at the end of each exercise period. At the end of three months, pull the scale out and see what your weight it. You will probably be pleasantly surprised. Personally I never weigh myself; the only time I find out my weight is when they weigh me at the doctor’s office.

Your Fitness Plan
To achieve your fitness goals it is important to have a plan. Your plan needs to address the following issues: How often are you going to exercise? When are you going to exercise? Where are you going to exercise? What type of exercise are you going to do?
Next month, we will address the specifics of an exercise plan.



Wendy Hess - Registered Nurse

Wendy Hess is a nurse who is in the process of becoming a member of CA-6. She traveled Jan 02-11 with Santa Cruz al Salvador, a Monterey Bay based non-profit organization (NGO) sponsored by a consortium of Lutheran and Presbyterian churches.

I travel annually to El Salvador with Santa Cruz al Salvador, and the trip this year proved to be one for my memory book. Our delegation of 17 members slept on cots in the communities (campos), while staying in hostels on the first and last nights of the trip. We met with local dignitaries, religious leaders and political allies. Since this is an election year, the number of armed guards had increased since our last visit. We spent time talking with representatives of three NGOs working in El Salvador: Living Water International (providing fresh drinking water), Joining Hands (crop cultivation assistance and education for the disadvantaged) and CoCoSI (Aids and STD education for disadvantaged youth and prisoners).

We were greeted by at least 100 community members and their children during an emotional visit to the church community of El Pilar in order to plan how we may help them financially and logistically to upgrade their water system from three hand-pump wells to water spigots into pilas at each dwelling via a water tank system. (A pila is basically a square cement tub with a platform/drain next to it. Water goes in the tub - which is kept clean, and is taken out in large bowls for use on the platform or heated and used to bathe.) This community is very poor and in dire need of education for the children and medical services for all.

In addition, we were fortunate enough to procure a Zoll cardiac defibrillator monitor from Sam Bradley, compliments of Pleasanton-Livermore Fire Department, and many pounds of medical supplies from MedShare, which went directly through customs and into the hands of our small hospital in Suchitoto township, where I have developed a relationship with the medical staff during past missions. The day before we left, we visited San Pedro Masahuat, the sister city to Watsonville, for an honorary sit-down luncheon during the annual Christo Negro festival.

These missions are about building relationships, and building mutual trust and respect. I have found that work in these austere environments brings out the best in me. 

Click here to contact Wendy Hess via the CA-6 Chronicles.



Carol Masterson - Staff Nurse, Gear/Uniforms Unit Leader

I was asked to help with medical care for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, known locally as Typhoon Yolanda. I traveled with Global Health Relief, the disaster response team of Christian Medical and Dental Association. We left on Nov 26: the typhoon was Nov 8. There was some confusion as to where we would serve due in part to all of the politics at play with the many international NGOs vying for the best areas to work. The choice spots were near the center of town or near the main roads (better for advertising their work). The storm was massive and caused widespread destruction over many islands. The Ministry of Health led the “Health Cluster” meetings to decide where to assign the many NGOs.

We worked with the Salvation Army, which was a great experience. Like DMAT, they are a group of dedicated uniformed volunteers. I felt right at home when they handed us our Mission Orders. The Salvation Army handled all the logistics support for our group: we provided the medical team consisting of physicians (ER docs, family docs, internists, PICU), dentists, nurses, and midwifes. Our staff came from the USA, Philippines, Germany, England, Australia, Egypt and Canada. Members of our medical team would rotate in and out depending on how long they were available to work. We usually had about five physicians, one dentist and four to six nurses working each day.

We were based in Tacloban and assigned to provide medical care and vaccinations to small villages about 30 miles south in the area surrounding the city of Dulag. Each day we drove south along the coast highway, then inland to different villages. We set up our medical clinics in local schools and churches and treated over 100 people each day with local school teachers acting as interpreters. We worked with local public health nurses to provide vaccinations to village children and averaged 60-120 shots per day.

Our team saw mostly coughs, asthma, minor small cuts and skin infections. Unable to travel, some of our patients ran out of chronic medicines, and there were an unexpected number of patients with severe undiagnosed hypertension with systolic blood pressures of over 200. Many patients had upper respiratory infections, the result of crowding in the few places they could find for shelter at night. Occasionally, the URIs progressed to pneumonia, especially in the young. The sickest were transported to a hospital in our van as we headed back to base each evening. We also saw some folks with GI symptoms due to a lack of food.

Fortunately, we arrived so long after the event that we didn't see many acute injuries. We treated PTSD with small group discussions and prayer provided by the Salvation Army. Many people really wanted to talk and share their stories of their experiences with outsiders. We met one lady who was the sole survivor of her family of nine people. One of the teachers lost almost half of her students. One of the public health nurses said she walked for ten hours to get home after the storm. We were told that during the storm over 300 people huddled together in a large supermarket for protection: all were killed when the roof collapsed.

As we drove the 30 miles on our daily trek to the towns and villages south of Tacaloban, we observed continuous areas of total destruction. During the storm, the wind blew down shanty shacks and ripped off roofs, the ocean storm surge caused houses to be pushed off their foundations, and trees to be uprooted and washed inland, creating large areas of devastation. Most of the main roads were cleared of debris before we arrived, and there were large piles of debris bulldozed to the side of the roads awaiting pickup or burning. Many of the rice crops were ruined due to the salt water carried inland, and the tops of the coconut palms were ripped off. The coconut palms provided income from palm oil, coconut meat as well as the favorite alcoholic drink, palm wine. Some days the air was thick with smoke from the burning of debris and our asthma patients really suffered.

Each day we saw more tents and tarps appear along the roadside, and more signs of commerce as more small stores opened, and more street stalls appeared selling different items. It was a big day in Tacloban when some street lights appeared and the local fast food barbeque restaurant opened to big crowds. Life is slowly getting back to normal in Tacloban, but for so many, they started with very little, lost everything and life will never be normal again.




Tammy Leung - Registered Nurse

An urgent email from Project Hope arrived on Nov 30 asking for volunteers available for an immediate departure to the Panay Island in the Philippines for medical relief after Typhoon Haiyan. Since I already missed the golden opportunity for an immediate disaster relief mission the day after the typhoon hit the Philippines because of my work obligation, I was ready with this second chance!

Panay Island was Project Hope’s first land mission, and because they also committed to have rotations for the next 6-12 months, lessons learned and building local trust were part of the initial planning. As expected, logistics was the major issue: medical supplies, shelter, military and local police for security, and electricity, water, and food for volunteers.

Upon arrival, we were sent to help out at the local hospital and community clinic. Tapaz District Hospital, a 25-bed government hospital in the city of Tapaz, which is in the province of Capiz, suffered structural damage, although the community clinic did not have any damage. The staffs at both the hospital and the clinic suffered personal losses in the typhoon, but neither group wanted to take time off while we were there. Our team worked with the administrators for short-term goals: teaching, debriefing, equipment and supply evaluation, and fixing the roof. We made presentations on the EKG, NG placement, patient hygiene, debriefing sessions, palliative care, and fixing the roof! We took special interest in a 29-week preemie with dehydration, no IV access and breathing problems.

The following days the team split into two groups: half to the hospital roof and half to get medical supplies. The roof team was able to get free tarps from UNICEF, purchase lumber from the local store, and start their mission under the leadership of local carpenters. The roof was temporarily sealed and there were no leaks after “natural testing” from the overnight downpour two days later. The patients and families were relieved because they no longer needed their umbrellas inside their rooms. The medical supply team was able to purchase a large quantity of medications from various local pharmacies at the modern city that was two hours away.

Our psychiatrist, Dr. Holzman, set up a much-needed debriefing session for the hospital and clinic staff. Twenty people signed up, but we had a fully packed room of 50 plus, including patients and families! The intended one-hour session lasted almost two hours, and was filled with heart breaking stories, quiet moments, tears, hugs, acceptance and acknowledgments. One comment made outside the conference room after the session from a local was, “Is he a priest or a doctor”?

Once all our supplies arrived and were inventoried, we started the outreach program to the rural communities. We were partnered with the local health professionals while the military served as our security support. We were able to hold our medical missions in local schools. The most common medical issues were uncontrolled hypertension (high salt and fat diet), respiratory issues (cigarettes and burning wood), severe tooth decay (drinking soda and poor dental hygiene), and psychological symptoms after the storm (loss of family members, house damage, loss of income). We learned that after the babies in this area are weaned from breast milk, they are often offered soda because it is cheap and readily available.

While working with the outlying rural communities, we heard reports of starvation in the hard-to-reach remote rural villages. Because of this, our team initiated another new mission goal: to verify and reach out. We visited the local social service office and the school district office. While at the school district office, we unexpectedly met with 18 head teachers. These head teachers confirmed that starvation was indeed happening in certain rural communities because already-poor farmers and fishermen lost all their crops and equipment after the typhoon, and schools lost their meal program funding from the government. Food and supply donations did not reach them because there were no complaints raised by their community leaders. Half the students had not returned to school even one month after the typhoon because there was no food at home or at school (one free meal at school was the incentive to encourage attendance). The food trucks arrived the day before we left Tapaz, allowing us to hand out food and supplies directly to the school principals for their students and families! Mission completed!

Lessons learned: be ready, flexible, and open-minded; follow the chain of command; and RESPECT the local culture!

Click here to contact Tammy Leung via the CA-6 Chronicles.



Aileen Hayes - Staff Nurse

Sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men - work out as planned! With Typhoon Haiyan well past, a casual Facebook message with a friend led to a mission to Culasi, Antique Province, Panay Island, in a short - very short - six weeks. Our travel dates were Jan 8-Jan 22.

With the idea of a medical mission imprinted in our brains, Matt Riley, who lives in California and is an instructor at the University of the Philippines Vasayas on Panay Island, picked up the logistical reins and got busy seeking the support of the mayor and multiple barangay (village) captains. Matt also met with UP Vasayas, which sent us two outreach staff members, Joemar Cagampang and Jun Ramirez, with a truck and our water supply for two weeks. The Peace Corps was also engaged: they sent us volunteer Eric Steiner for the duration of our mission and a vehicle to help collect us our 17 balikbayan boxes from the airport.

In the meantime, I was charged with getting the support from the board of directors of Holy Rosary International Medical Mission, gathering supplies, medications, money and staffing. HRIMM was on its way to its first response mission. Getting support from the board was not difficult: dates were set, emails for staffing sent out and the mission was posted on every website I could think of. At one point, Angie, our treasurer sent, in larger-than-usual type: WHAT IS YOUR PLAN B? I laugh now, but at the time my brain was screaming in bigger type and boldface: WHAT DO YOU MEAN, WHAT IS MY PLAN B??? THERE IS NO PLAN B!

CDMSA was generous in his donations of supplies and let me “go shopping”. There was unfettered joy at what was available for the taking. Unfortunately, we could not take all that was offered but it was enough to fill up a station wagon. Direct Relief International sent us seven big boxes and tubs filled with medications and Medshare opened its doors and allowed us to go shopping for any further supplies, waiving their usual donation fee.

Staffing remained our biggest challenge, and was not resolved while stateside. Within a couple of days of announcing the mission, CA-6ers Kay Yamagata and Lynn Farizell committed to the mission. Also joining us was Christine Smith, FNP; Pacita Aducayen, MD, Gerald Jeffry, DDS; Anne Hayes, EMT; Ed Pangilinan, administrator; Connie Flores, pharmacist; and local community health care workers and non-medical volunteers who triaged our patients and fed us as if we were royalty.

During the mission, two local doctors, Dr. Aguirre, the medical director of the local hospital, and Dr. Babayion, rotated in and out of our mission, and Rachelle de la Rosario, a nurse in Antioch, CA, with an MD license in the Philippines, left her vacation for a few days to work with us. Kay Yamagata had a friend four hours away from where we are working, which resulted in a much-needed psychiatric component to the mission for the first several days. Another component - a dental college - was to send 15 students, but was unable to attend and cancelled within days of our arrival.

Despite our small, fluctuating size, we saw 1,907 patients over eight days, while two outreaches to islands were cancelled due to choppy waters. Financial considerations were quickly resolved as generous donors filled the coffers: Matt’s daughter hosted a fundraiser while the local Phil-Am club made a generous contribution to be used for food or construction.

Our expected mission was to help the local populace re-establish their medical care and refer, and pay for, referrals beyond our capabilities. What we did not expect was the overall poor access to care and the difficulty in managing the care if it is available:

  • Medications are purchased at the local pharmacies on a pay-by-the-pill basis. 
  • Prescriptions are often written for short periods of time; e.g. phenobarbital, 10 tablets
  • For anything other than a CBC, lipid panel or uric acid, a patient must get blood drawn at the local hospital then take the blood sample 2 hours away, get it processed, and bring the results back.
  • The only dentist for a region of 50,000 people retired last December.

We did not expect to see typhoon-related injuries, and we did not, though there were plenty of wounds to be treated. The primary sources of income in the region are playing havoc with health of the populace: working barefoot in the rice fields causing skin and injury issues, smoke from the burning fields resulting in airway issues, and life on the water results in the large number of patients with ptergium.

Another big health concern is the consumption of sugar, particularly in the form of sodas. Dental decay was rampant, even in children as young as 3 and Dr. Jeffry pulled far more teeth than he ever expected. There is a lot of finger-in-the-dyke medicine, but there are also some long-term solutions being discussed - particularly surrounding the dental issues - with several agencies already becoming involved.

All in all, it was a good mission, a very strong team, and Matt is returning to Culasi in a few weeks to begin plans for next year. As for the Phil-Am donation? Jun has identified an island where the fishing fleet was entirely wiped out. Those funds will go towards the building of eight boats. 

Click here to contact Aileen via the CA-6 Chronicles.

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