November 7, 2014
As one of the regionís ambulance transporting agencies, Ashland Fire & Rescue could be asked to transport an actual or suspected Ebola patient. Due to the transmission risks associated with Ebola and the high mortality rate of the disease, hospital and pre-hospital care providers are required to take extraordinary precautions that have only recently been solidified. In Jackson County there are two groups managing efforts and coordinating the many organizations involved. Each week, AF&R management attends two meetings, one concentrating on emergency medical services (headed by Dr. Paul Rostykus, Physician Supervisor for the County), and one dealing with hospitals, dispatch centers, and public education and awareness (headed by Jackson County Health and Human Services). Policies have been established that help guide personnel from the initial patient contact, including the 9-1-1 phone call, to how the hospital receives the patient and subsequently isolates them.
Currently, AF&R is acquiring the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) so personnel will be safe during patient contact and transport. There are complex and technical procedures including ambulance preparation, PPE donning and doffing, and decontamination procedures of personnel and equipment that will be in place and for which training will be provided. Currently there is one individual in Jackson County being monitored for Ebola. Their risk assessment is ďlow.Ē While the chances that AF&R personnel will come in contact with an Ebola patient are minimal, the department will be prepared in the near future if the need arises.
Ashland Fire & Rescue conducted the 2nd annual AIR (Ashland Is Ready) citizen emergency preparedness workshop at the Historic Armory on Saturday, November 1. Two sessions were held and more than 400 citizens attended. A number of presenters offered information on how to be better prepared. Emphasis was on seismic events, with the geologic hazards program coordinator from Oregon OEM, Althea Rizzo, presenting information on the Cascadia Subduction Zone. In addition, a number of vendors and displays were available for our citizens to visit to gather more information about emergency preparedness.
Having made it through the dry time of year, the Water Division of the Public Works Department is preparing Reeder Reservoir for winter weather. Hosler Dam contains Reeder Reservoir and is equipped with flood gates. When these gates are open it provides a channel for excess water to flow through. If these gates and spillway were not there, excess water from winter storms would go over the top of the dam and potentially wash out the sides of the dam causing structural problems that could lead to dam failure. The spillway and flood gates channel the water into the creek below the dam, to safely carry excess water away from the dam itself.
Pictured below are two pictures of the dam spillway from the í97 flood. On the left is a City employee working to remove logs that washed into Reeder Reservoir and were clogging up the spillway. On the right is the spillway running near its capacity. The volume of water during the í97 flood did not exceed the capacity of the spillway but it was close.
Typically in late spring, when the risk of big storms has passed, the gates are closed and the reservoir is allowed to fill to the top of the gates, increasing its capacity. These gates add three feet of depth to the reservoir which allows us to store a little over 19 million gallons of additional water. During winter months, the water level in Reeder Reservoir is allowed to drop to as low as 40% of the total capacity, depending on the snow pack in the watershed. This allows for some containment of high seasonal or storm flows from Ashland Creek. The reservoir itself is not big enough to be used for flood control but it can absorb the normal high flows from winter storms. In an event like the í97 flood, the capacity of Reeder Reservoir is far too small to prevent a flood but it will catch the initial flows which can give us a few extra hours to prepare for potential flooding.
Waste Water Division
The Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) has begun maintenance on the sludge dewatering system. The treatment plant currently operates two separate centrifuge systems to dewater sludge. During this maintenance project, one centrifuge will be offline for several weeks the other one will be offline for several weeks after that. The centrifuges are due for major maintenance including new bearings and rebalancing.
On average, the WWTP receives 2 million gallons of waste water per day. The purpose of the treatment plant is to neutralize and remove anything harmful from the water and release the clean water back into Ashland Creek. The waste water at the plant goes through several processes before itís allowed to leave the plant. Ultimately the plant separates the waste water into clean water thatís released into the creek and sludge that goes through additional processes before itís disposed of at the landfill. Of the 2 million gallons of waste water treated each day, about 30,000 gallons of liquid sludge is separated from the water. That sludge then goes through the dewatering process. Dewatering is done by the two centrifuges. The 30,000 gallons of liquid sludge are sent through the centrifuges, where itís spun at high speed in order to separate the liquid from the solids. The liquid sludge is then sent to the beginning of the treatment process to go through the plant again. The solids exit the centrifuge and are stored in a dump truck for disposal. Once full, the dump truck hauls the solids to the Dry Creek Landfill in White City. On average three truckloads per week are sent to Dry Creek.
Pictured below are the two centrifuges. The sludge enters through the pipe with the yellow label; it then spins inside the area above the dark blue frame. These centrifuges are located on the second floor of the dewatering building at the WWTP. The solids then drop out the far end of the centrifuge into a dump truck below.
The WWTP staff has a contingency plan in place while the maintenance is in progress. With only two centrifuges, when one is taken offline for maintenance that only leaves us with one thatís operational. If for any reason that one remaining centrifuge fails; we will have 30 thousand gallons of liquid sludge per day that will have to be disposed of. Earlier in the summer we worked out an agreement with Medford to haul our liquid sludge to their facility in the unlikely event of a failure in the remaining centrifuge system. We also developed a list of contractors that can haul sludge for us. At the last Council meeting our list of contractors was approved and, if necessary, we will work with several contractors to haul our sludge. No single contractor in the area has the equipment necessary to haul 30,000 gallons per day, so we would need to work with several contractors to make this happen. We do not expect the second centrifuge to fail while the first one is down for maintenance but if it does happen, we have a plan in place to deal with the sludge.
Detective Carrie Hull has been asked to fly to Washington, DC, next year to testify at a Senate committee hearing on crime and criminal justice policy. They are looking at adopting legislative strategies to encourage or require additional agencies to either join our You Have Options Program (YHOP) or develop a similar program on their own. They have agreed to pay all of the costs related to her appearance. One of the strategies Carrie will suggest is funding agencies interested in coming to YHOP related training in Ashland or other related training that APD may hold in other parts of the country. Our hope is that in addition to spreading the message and improving response to sexual assault nationally we can fund all costs related to YHOP with revenue related to training, while at the same time bringing large numbers of people to Ashland for training during the off season.
In the photo below, Police Chief Terry Holderness, Detective Carrie Hull and Deputy Chief Tighe OíMeara display the Webber-Seavey Award that APD received for the You Have Options Program at the International Association of Police Chiefs conference last week.
This week we were advised that an article jointly written by the Chief, Carrie Hull and Susan Moen on YHOP has been accepted for publication in the December issue of Police Chief Magazine, which has the largest circulation of any police-related publication in the world. An additional article on YHOP, written by one of their reporters, will be published in the December issue of New York Magazine. We have also been told that USA today will feature YHOP in an upcoming article but we do not yet have a publication date.
Officers Scott Wenzel and Ben Weaver will receive life-saving awards tonight at the annual Oregon Police Officers Association Banquet. They are being recognized for their efforts in stopping a man who was attempting to kill himself by jumping off the Ashland Springs Hotel.
October 24, 2014