UC Field Research Safety 


The recent North Bay wildfires had a huge impact on northern California; everyone seems to know someone who lost a home or was evacuated, or a firefighter that responded to help. For an entire week the Bay Area (with a population of over 7 million) was blanketed with wildfire smoke from the fires 40-50 miles north. I've shared this resource before: "Wildfire Smoke: A Guide for Public Health Officials" was helpful as many campuses managed outdoor events, addressed health concerns and provided N95 respirators. It's a joint publication of the US Forest Service, EPA, CDC, and California Air Resources Board and includes detailed guidance on wildfire smoke, sensitive populations, strategies to reduce exposure, how to properly wear a N95, as well as guidance on setting up clean air shelters and safe work practices from NIOSH for cleanup activities following wildfires. If anyone has suggestions on ways to assist recovery efforts that they'd like to share with this group - or other lessons learned - please let me know. Thanks, Sara 
A few other (somewhat random) resources and updates for October:

Scripps Institute of Oceanography

Earlier this month I led a Field Safety Planning Workshop for SIO researchers that was well-attended and sparked some interesting discussions. It's clear there are different norms for land-based field research compared to scientific diving/boating. But I think we're slowly starting to bridge the gap. As I see it, the fundamentals are really the same: hazard assessment, emergency planning and communications, medical considerations, relevant training including first aid, and incident reporting. 

Promoting Collaboration

It was great to meet oceanside with UCSD's Diving and Boating Safety Officers (Christian and Brett), Risk Management (Edie), and EH&S (Lance and Kris) to discuss challenges, big and small. Field safety takes a team; this group has a ton of expertise and a pretty nice view too.

UC Natural Reserve System (NRS) Annual Managers Meeting 

PhD scientists that manage UC reserves across California come together once a's a unique meeting no doubt and I regret that I didn't sleep outside under the stars on a cot like many of the attendees. Although one morning from the patio, within a few minutes, I did get to see a coyote, jackrabbit, and roadrunner.  

UCI's Anza Borrego Desert Research Center hosted this year and I appreciate that they included time on their agenda to talk about safety, including emergency communications, fall hazards, hantavirus and other zoonotic risks, wildland fires, first aid kits, AEDs, and epinephrine auto-injectors. 

If you're not familiar with the UCNRS, check out their diverse system of 39 natural reserves, serving research, teaching, and public service. I'm happy to report that inReach satellite communication devices funded by UCOP have now been distributed to staff at most of these remote sites.    
International Travel
I'm hosting a workshop and WFA training in Berkeley this week, and almost half of the field researchers indicated during registration that they work internationally. Booking travel via Conexxus or registering trips at UC Away for 24/7 travel assistance and location-specific travel "intelligence" is an important action to take and will help travelers stay informed about known and emerging risks, beyond just health and safety. For example, guidance on electronics and laws pertaining to border searches (thanks for sharing, Marik):
Traveling with Electronic Devices (July 2017 Update from UCOP) 

Plague - An Ancient Threat

Plague in Madagascar (recent CDC Travel Notice, 1365 possible cases reported this year)
Plague in California (CDPH Vector Born Disease website, including surveillance data in wild rodents)
It looks like this month we'll close out with an ongoing mystery: Two more U.S. government workers have been confirmed to be victims of "invisible attacks" in Cuba, the United States said Friday, raising the total to 24. (PBS Newshour report 10/20/2017). I hope you've found these updates useful; as always, if you have specific requests or suggestions, please contact me at
If the broom fits, ride it! Enjoy Halloween, Sara
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