I’m sure you know that a few wildfires are still burning in AZ, including the massive Wallow fire. The Governor signed a Declaration of Emergency on Monday this week, releasing some state funds to help with the response efforts and opening the State Emergency Operations Center, which is coordinating and directing the state emergency response activities.  You can visit their website (www.azein.gov) for real-time incident updates, preparedness and hazard information and multimedia resources.

All licensed inpatient (Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing) and residential (Group Homes for folks with Developmental Disabilities) facilities in Springerville and Eager were evacuated early this week.  AHCCCS & ADES also identified their vulnerable members several days ago and ensured they had transition plans.  The hospital in Springerville was closed last weekend, but the emergency department has remained open.  Our WIC program made adjusted so that participants from the evacuated areas can still access their benefits.

The Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority has activated set up a hotline for information and services. They’ve also been contacting all their clients in the area to determine their evacuation plans and help with special assistance if necessary and coordinating with Community Counseling Centers for clients who have relocated.  Earlier in the week they ensured that the records from the behavioral health outpatient treatment clinic in  Springerville were transferred to St. Johns where there’s another out-patient clinic.

Airborne particulate matter levels in Springerville & Eager this week were quite high at night but more tolerable during the day.  ADEQ air quality monitors take the readings.  We’ve been helping to interpret the data for both Springerville and St. Johns for decision-making purposes.

In my opinion, the response to this fire has been much smoother and more effective than the response to the Rodeo-Chediski fire, mostly because all of us in the health sector (ADHS, AHCCCS, ADES, Counties) activated responses much earlier in the event than during R-C.  I’m not saying that the response to the Rodeo-Chediski fire were bad, it’s just clear that the multi-jurisdictional planning efforts over the last several years have really paid off.