IUSD Participates in Joint Wildfire Planning Exercise

IUSD Wildfire Training Exercise with OCFA Sand Table

Today, the Irvine Unified School District, founding member of the Emergency Preparedness Interagency Collaborative (EPIC), participated in a joint wildfire tabletop exercise at the Orange County Fire Authority offices in Irvine.  This exercise, which simulated possible real wildfire conditions in Irvine, focused on response and mitigation planning, coordination and crisis communications during a possible large scale wildfire event.   

Participating EPIC members included Irvine Unified School District, City of Irvine, Irvine Police Department, Orange County Fire Authority, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Orange County Department of Education, City of Newport Beach, American Red Cross, University of California Irvine, Concordia University, Irvine Valley College, Tarbut V’Torah, Crean Lutheran High School and Sage Hill School.   

This type of planning is particularly timely, given that we are heading into the hot summer months and parts of north and south Irvine are in wildfire zones.  The heavy winter rains have led to vegetation growth that will dry out during the summer months, potentially creating “fuel” for wildfires, so it is important that we are all prepared. 

As IUSD continues to prepare and plan for wildfires and other emergencies, below is helpful information for our students and families. 

For information and updates related to your child’s school during an emergency, Stay Connected to IUSD
Check your voicemail, email and text messages first
Visit iusd.org for ongoing updates, alerts and important information
Find IUSD on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for real-time updates and information

SchoolMessenger – All IUSD schools use SchoolMessenger to send general email, phone and text communications to parents, staff and community members throughout the school year. Schools and the District also use SchoolMessenger for emergency notifications. If you unsubscribed from school or District emails, you will not receive important updates during an emergency. To re-subscribe, email helpdesk@iusd.org.

It’s easy to opt-in for text messages – If you haven’t already opted-in for text messages from your school and IUSD, text "Y" to 67587 from each wireless device you wish to receive texts on. Not sure if you opted-in already? No problem! You can never opt-in too many times, just follow the step above. For additional information, visit IUSD's Text Message Frequently Asked Questions page.

Keep Your Information Updated – Make sure your school has your most up-to-date contact information, including how to reach you and/or your designated caregivers to arrange for pick-up. During times of emergency the school telephones may be overwhelmed with calls, so it is important your school knows how to reach you. Login to Parent Portal and go to the “Contact” page. Here you will be able to see who is an authorized emergency contact and the date it was lasted updated.

Social Media - Stay connected to IUSD on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. During recent disasters throughout the U.S., social media has proven to be a very effective and real-time way to communicate, especially when phone lines are down.

Like IUSD on Facebook: facebook.com/irvineunifiedschooldistrict
Follow IUSD on Twitter: twitter.com/iusd
Follow IUSD on Instagram: instagram.com/irvine_unified

What You Need to Know About Your Child’s School
IUSD maintains responsibility for our students – IUSD campuses will be secured and students will be kept at school until they can safely be released to parents or authorized guardians through an established reunification process.  In the event the school is evacuated, IUSD will contact you directly by text, voicemail or email with information about evacuation plans and reunification.  This information will also be on IUSD’s web and social media sites. 

IUSD has an established parent/child reunification process – Students will only be released to persons listed on the school’s emergency contact card. If you are not sure who is listed on your emergency card, login to Parent Portal and go to the “Contact” page. Here you will be able to see who is an authorized emergency contact and when the contact was last updated. Please be sure to keep this information up to date.

When picking up your child, the authorized adult must have a valid picture ID, such as a driver’s license, state identification card or passport.

District schools prepare to be self-sufficient – Though IUSD works closely with the Irvine Police Department, the Orange County Fire Authority and other agencies, it may be necessary to coordinate our own response efforts if emergency personnel are tending to more immediate needs. IUSD staff members have been assigned specific roles and responsibilities, which are practiced during drills throughout the year.

What You Need to Know at Home and Work
Irvine Police Department – Visit the Irvine Police Department’s Emergency Management webpage for important information about how you can be prepared at home and work for an emergency.  This comprehensive webpage has information about family safety plans, how to assemble a disaster supply kit, and other important resources.

Register your work, home and cellphones with AlertOC – AlertOC is a mass notification system designed to keep Orange County residents and businesses informed about emergencies. By registering with AlertOC, time-sensitive voice messages from the City of Irvine may be sent to your home, mobile, or business phone. Messages may also be sent to mobile phones, e-mail accounts, and hearing impaired receiving devices. For more information or to register your phones, visit AlertOC.org.

Those living in areas prone to wildfires should take extra precautions – The Irvine Police Department has partnered with the Orange County Fire Authority to help residents protect against wildfires. Residents in at-risk areas – including Quail Hill, Shady Canyon, Turtle Rock, Turtle Ridge, Portola Springs and Orchard Hills should especially review the following:

Protect your home by taking steps to mitigate risk, including creating defensible space
Assemble a bag filled with necessities such as clothes and medication
Plan evacuation routes and leave early in the event of a wildfire
Prepare a family reunification plan

For more wildfire preparedness information, go to cityofirvine.org or ocfa.org/rsg.

For more information about IUSD emergency preparedness and campus safety, click here.

EPIC was founded by IUSD’s Director of Risk Management Dr. Stephen Bayne in 2014 and meets quarterly to plan and collaborate with first responders and community partners to ensure mutual understanding of respective roles and responsibilities during an emergency.  EPIC partners also share best practices, training and data from incidents throughout the country.  According to county and city officials, there is no other partnership like EPIC in Orange County and it is rare to find a collaborative such as this in the state or nation.