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UC Field Research Safety

Strange days indeed. I hope you're all staying healthy and coping okay! We're on Day 4 of sheltering-in-place and homeschooling in the Bay Area. I just want to touch base on the impact of COVID-19 on field projects and field courses, the new Global Level 4 Health Advisory, considerations moving forward, and share a few insights on social distancing and hand washing. Also happy to report that our NOLS Risk Management training at Blue Oak Ranch Reserve last week went well -- bringing together a motivated group of 19 UC staff, instructors and researchers. I probably took for granted how nice it was to relax around an evening campfire. But we're all quickly learning and adapting and appreciating simple things. Social distancing feels like one big, communal pause on "life as normal" for the greater good.

I'll share lessons from the NOLS training at a later time, but as always, please contact me directly with any questions or suggestions via Take care, Sara

By Staying Apart, We Are Working Together As A Community
Over the last week, you’ve been asked to make drastic changes to your lives. Continue reading this blog about the "why", from Amy Herr, professor of bioengineering | March 15, 2020, Berkeley News.
Global Level 4 Health Advisory -- DO NOT TRAVEL (Issued March 19 by the State Department) 
Anyone still traveling should review UCOP and campus/department travel directives carefully and register via UC Away. Review alerts promptly and keep the 24/7 UC travel assistance phone number with you at all times; international flights have been suspended or are limited in many countries around the world. Upon return to the US, expect health screening at the airport and to isolate at home; check in with your local campus health services by phone upon return.
Field Projects
"Essential" outdoor work may still be possible if social distancing can be maintained; being outdoors is fine, but contact with other people and shared facilities (bathrooms, kitchens, lodging, stores, gas stations, etc.) is problematic. Review plans with your department leadership; many campuses require an explicit approval from the Office of Research (or equivalent) to continue research activities. Also check in advance with the local land manager/agency or field station manager as many have closed temporarily or are only allowing day trips. If you proceed, risk-reduction actions:
  • Register trips via UC Away and review alerts carefully
  • Self-screen: stay home if you have a fever or cough or have traveled/had potential contact with cases within the last 14 days
  • Modify activities to maintain 6 foot social distancing
  • Ensure adequate water and soap for handwashing, plus disinfectant, and hand sanitizer
  • Promote hygiene: wash hands and wipe down surfaces often, cough into sleeve, dispose of tissues
  • Carry a thermometer in your first aid kit
  • Maintain robust communication to receive updates or get assistance; maintain a frequent check in schedule
  • Carry a written emergency plan; consider distance to medical care and limited services/support for other injuries or illness
  • Ensure extra lodging is available to maintain social distancing, single rooms, tents
  • Even for small groups, discuss transportation options to maintain social distancing; avoid public transportation
  • Maintain flexibility to alter plans at any time, self- isolate, or return home
Field Courses
At this point I'm hearing that most group travel and field courses have been cancelled or postponed for the rest of the academic year. I'm curious how instructors plan to offer alternative instruction. There is no substitute for experiential learning, but I imagine many are coming up with online lessons or independent assignments. Please feel free to share any solutions, ideas or online resources for field methods and I will post them via this newsletter; or if it would be helpful I could host a Zoom call for field course instructors to discuss these challenges directly. Please email me directly at 
Fun with GloGerm
At this point we all know we should wash our hands often with soap for 20 seconds. I did a demo with GloGerm and a UV light at Blue Oak last week, and repeated it with my kids today at home -- almost everyone still has some simulated germs "glowing" under their nails and on their wrists after washing well, knowing I'm looking. So imagine how much is left when you only rinse for a couple seconds in cold water. Keeping your nails trimmed short helps, and swirling your fingertips in your palms with sudsy soap. Also, the faucet handle and anything else touched gets contaminated and should be wiped down often.

We all can do better! 
Blue Oak Ranch Reserve
A huge thanks to Zac Harlow the Resident Manager at Blue Oak for hosting the NOLS Risk Management training last week, and all the participants for showing up with positive energy and contributions, despite a lot of uncertainty. We took precautions (no shared dorms, enhanced cleaning practices); but the meeting also highlighted the challenges of social distancing in classroom settings, shared bathrooms, and shared meals. Now, only a week later -- expected precautions regarding social distancing have escalated dramatically.  
And thank you to Paul Lynam for the fascinating tour of UCSC's Lick Observatory...
Working from home, Zoom tips
I work remotely often, so Zoom meetings are nothing new. I turn my video on, even if my dog is whining or my kids are screeching. The video helps keep me present and engaged; and is good motivation to put on a clean shirt and brush teeth. Authenticity is more important than perfection, right? But, I suggest turning your audio off, unless it's a small group conversation or you are actively presenting or responding. All those background noises get distracting. This is especially important if you're using a mobile phone. Do not ever take your phone to the bathroom on a call, no one wants to hear flushing or anything else from a bathroom. It happens, I swear. Happy Zooming. 
Training Postponed, Online Options
All wilderness first aid and skills-based training is postponed for the rest of the academic year. We'll try to make up planned courses when it's safe to do so. There's no substitute for experiential learning, but please consider online training opportunities. I'm also looking into setting up training sessions via Zoom to focus on specific field hazards or activities in more detail. More info to come soon but please reach out with any topic requests.

UC Learning Center Courses Available Online Now:
Heat Illness Response & Prevention
Wildfire Smoke
Hazard Communication and GHS
Hearing Conservation
Workplace Safety/IIPP/Safety Orientation (title varies by campus)
Fire Extinguisher Use
Shop Safety
First Aid: AED Training
Concussion Safety
UC Abroad
Last, Nature Cam Therapy
With travel plans on hold, web cams provide an oddly pleasant escape. It's a challenging time, but please reach out with questions or suggestions at any point.

Take care, Sara

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UC Field Research Safety · 317 University Hall · Berkeley, Ca 94720 · USA

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