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If an incident occurs, where either structural damage or safety prohibits access to your home for an extended period of time, there are a number of city, regional and State resources as well as some non-governmental resources that may activate to respond to such needs.


Mass Care & Shelter

The City and County of San Francisco (CCSF) and the local American Red Cross  (ARC) chapters work cooperatively to provide mass care and shelter when needed. In preparation for emergencies and disasters, ARC chapters designate government and private facilities that meet their criteria to be used as shelters. Statements of understanding are established between the ARC and facility owners to describe the responsibilities of each party when a shelter is activated. The ARC shares information about pre-designated shelter locations, including the location and estimated capacity of the sites, with the local emergency managers.

As part of its preparedness efforts, the local ARC chapter stages a minimum amount of equipment to support pre-designated shelters in the initial hours and days after a disaster. When an emergency or disaster occurs, the ARC and the CCSF identify shelters to be opened at locations closest to affected residents. The local ARC chapter also shares information about the locations and capacities of local shelters with the National American Red Cross and FEMA, which maintain the National Shelter System – a database used by the two organizations to track shelter population numbers.

Wherever possible, residents will always be encouraged to remain in their own homes when it is safe to do so, or to relocate to family and friends homes which are safe within the area.  The best option, where possible, is to find accommodation with family or friends outside of the immediately affected area until normal services are restored and you are able to return and perform repairs to your damaged or destroyed home.  This will put less burden and strain on the Mass Care and Shelter facilities and staff, and will make them much more effective in caring for those who are unable to return home or relocate with family or friends.


Small Scale Incidents

The American Red Cross (ARC), Bay Area Chapter, is a primary non-governmental responder to both small scale incidents and large expansive disasters.  ARC will often be found on-scene at the location of house fires, providing blankets and hot drinks to victims and helping facilitate their re-location to family or friends or short term hotel accommodation.

In most cases, if you are unable to return to your home due to a fire, landslide, sink hole, gas leak etc. it is normally less disruptive to stay with nearby relatives or at a nearby motel/hotel until insurance and new accommodation or repairs can be sorted out.  Some pre-planning and preparation is essential to make this unfortunate transition as stress free as it can possibly be. 

Check out our MAKE A PLAN section to get some ideas on what to prepare and how to gain access to important documents following a small scale disaster.


City Wide or Regional Incidents

Where an incident is much larger in scale and affects many more people within the entire city or bay, then a pre-designated State Emergency Response apparatus would be activated.   Depending on the nature and scale of the incident, it may take 24-48 hours for this apparatus to fully deploy and become available to most residents, thus pre-planning and preparing to look after yourself and your loved ones and pets for a period of at least 48 hours without any additional assistance is essential. 

Check out our MAKE A PLAN section to get some ideas on what to prepare and how to gain access to important documents following a small scale disaster.


Activation and Operation of Mass Shelters

CCSF will use the following procedures to activate care and shelter operations.


o   Following an incident, the local government identifies the need for care and shelter and decides which shelters must be activated based on the specific circumstances of the incident.

o   The Incident Command works through the jurisdiction’s pre-designated Care and Shelter Lead to request access to sheltering facilities.

o   The local government notifies the local American Red Cross chapter.

o   If the American Red Cross local chapter is available to open shelters, the American Red Cross deploys trained shelter management teams and its own local resources to open shelters. The American Red Cross provides liaisons to the local EOC to coordinate opening of the shelters.

o   Some local governments have staff trained to manage shelters. Some also have their own supply of equipment to support a government-managed shelter. If the American Red Cross is not available to open shelters, the local government deploys these resources to initiate the shelter openings. If the local government cannot open a shelter due to lack of staff or resources, it sends a request for care and shelter support to the Operational Area.

o   The jurisdiction’s Public Information Officer notifies the public of shelter locations and status.

Shelter locations cannot be pre-published as the anticipated facilities must first be inspected for safety and operability prior to announcing the locations to the general public.  The last thing CCSF wants is for hundreds of people to self-locate to an unsuitable or unsafe location, expecting care, shelter and support such as what happened during Hurricane Katrina.


Overview of Mass Shelter Operations

Under the California Health and Safety Code Section 34070-34072, CCSF is obligated to provide emergency care and shelter in situations during which an emergency or disaster displaces residents.

In general, care and shelter operations include the following.


o   Shelter: Sheltering may include the establishment of temporary evacuation points and the establishment of emergency shelter for the affected population, including special needs populations, disaster workers, and pets and companion animals. Facilities used for shelters include pre-designated sites in existing structures, temporary shelters, or if evacuation is recommended, the use of similar facilities outside the affected area.

o   Feeding: The American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and other non-governmental organizations manage feeding programs for affected populations and emergency workers through a combination of fixed sites and mobile feeding units.

o   Basic Medical Care: The American Red Cross and other support agencies provide basic first aid and mental health support to the affected populations and workers. However, these services do not supplant medical services provided by the local government, which provides medical care for shelter populations, and must request additional resources through SEMS if available resources are not sufficient to address the situation.

o   Bulk Distribution of Emergency Relief Supplies: The local government, non-governmental organizations, the state, and the Federal Government may establish sites within the affected area for the distribution of emergency relief supplies and commodities, such as water, Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), and supplies for first-aid and sanitation, to support residents who remain at home. The process for distribution will be established according to the needs of disaster victims for essential items in areas where commercial trade is inoperative or insufficient to meet the emergency needs of the affected area.

o   Disaster Welfare Inquiry: The American Red Cross and FEMA provide disaster welfare inquiry services to aid in the reunification of family members within the affected area who were separated at the time of the emergency incident.

o   Tracking of Affected Populations: Depending on the providing agency, registration information about individuals at each service location (shelter, feeding, disaster welfare inquiry, and bulk distribution sites) may be confidential unless shelter residents sign a release of information. Such information can assist local governments with planning for the transition from shelters to replacement housing. Tracking information can also help affected individuals to contact family members who are outside of the affected area.


Mass Casualty Locations During Large Disasters


Minor Injuries

Minor injuries that are not life threatening should be treated where possible by family members or friends in the short term, until the injured party can be re-located to either a shelter within the disaster area or a relative or friends home outside of the disaster area.  Self-treating minor injuries will allow other medical provider resources to be deployed where they are most needed and useful.

You may have to self-treat for a period of 24-48 hours before other medical resources become available to respond to non life threatening conditions throughout the disaster area.  Preparation and planning will be essential in helping you and your loved ones to self-treat during this period.  Attending a basic first aid / CPR / AED certification class and / or a disaster preparedness class would be an excellent start.  Ensuring you have first aid supplies available and ready to “go” with you if you must evacuate in a hurry is also going to be vital in helping you treat minor ailments such as cuts, abrasions and so on.

Check out our RESOURCES page for information on first aid and disaster preparedness classes.

Check out our WHAT YOU NEED page to see some example lists of a well stocked first aid kit.


Major or Life Threatening Injuries

Major injuries and life threatening injuries will require immediate life saving care and such individuals will be directed to the designated Mass Casualty facility for the disaster area.  The CCSF Office of Emergency Management will determine the Mass Casualty facilities for each area of San Francisco within hours of the disaster occurring, once they verify the facility is structurally sound, readily accessible, staffed adequately and has sufficient supplies and provisions to act as a disaster Mass Care location.  

Listen for PUBLIC EMERGENCY BROADCASTS over the radio, or seek information on Mass Casualty locations once they are established from the Community Notification/Re-Unification Center for the neighborhood.

In many circumstance, stabilizing patients with major injuries or life threatening injuries will be essential to their ultimate survival, thus training and supplies for family members and friends may be the difference between a successful outcome and a loss of life. 

Check out our RESOURCES page for information on first aid and disaster preparedness classes.

Check out our WHAT YOU NEED page to see some example lists of a well stocked first aid kit.


Neighborhood Emergency Response Team Staging Area

NERT is a group of community members who have pre-trained and certified as Disaster Service Workers (DSW) through the San Francisco Fire Department. They form a vital resource to the SFFD and city emergency management teams in the hours following a disaster and through the initial response phase by providing vital information on neighborhood damage and injuries as well as some search & rescue and incident stabilization functions which falls within their training scope. 

For more info on NERT (Neighborthood Emergency Response Team), go to

The South Beach NERT team will form an essential link between our neighborhood, the SFFD Battalion station responsible for our neighborhood and the Emergency Operations Center of the CCSF. 

NERT volunteers are trained to look after themselves, their family members and their immediate neighbors prior to deploying to their NERT Staging Area for assignment and tasking. This is a vital task as it helps to begin the neighborhood stabilization process, it compiles vital intelligence information for the Fire Department and CCSF, and it ensures NERT volunteers have taken care of loved ones before they focus on others.  This may mean that the NERT effort is not available to deploy for a number of hours following an initial disaster incident.

The primary South Beach Staging Area for NERT is designated as South Park, located on South Park Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets and Brannan and Bryant Streets.

A secondary alternative South Beach Staging Area for NERT is located at 200 Brannan Street at Delancey Street.  This location will be activated if the primary staging area location is inaccessible or unsafe for response operations. 

Only NERT and other qualified Disaster Service Workers will be allowed to access the Staging Area during any disaster activation, however community members may provide important information on neighborhood problems to the South Beach NERT team at this location, such as:

·         Structure fires

·         Collapsed buildings

·         Road fissures, sink holes, bridge collapses, blocked roads etc.

·         Injured or trapped victims requiring medical attention or rescue

            •         Gas leaks, water leaks, downed electrical wiring etc.

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