Oxnard evaluates equipment, training for biological threats

With the outbreak of Ebola in the United States, emergency management for the town of Oxnard, California, is reviewing its equipment and training to enhance preparedness in case of an emergency.
“Fortunately because of all the Homeland Security funding that has been coming to all the cities and counties since 9/11, we have invested in personal protective gear to be used for a bio-terrorist type event,” said Oxnard Disaster Preparedness Coordinator Susan Duenas. “We have equipment and there has been training, but we need to brush up on it because it hasn’t been the hot topic in awhile until now.”
Duenas said that certain equipment has expiration dates that need to be double-checked. “We’re communicating, trying to evaluate the status of our equipment, the status of our training, and try to do some preplanning just in case.”

To ensure that citizens are prepared, the county would send out an alert if there were any documented cases related to a biological agent like Ebola. “They would probably notify all the people who could have been in the areas where this person was,” Duenas said. “We would use several things - Facebook, Web pages, regular news media - but for a media alert we would definitely use the telephonic notification system, which has been very effective for other types of events.”

Duenas began working in public safety with specific concentrations in crime analysis and emergency preparedness. She has nearly 20 years of experience working directly in the field of emergency management. She worked for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office for 14 years and started in Oxnard in March 2014.