News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Fire chief promotes preparedness

Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District Fire Chief Roger Johnson will be one of seven presenters at the C4C Emergency Preparedness Forum at the Sisters Fire Station Community Hall on Thursday May 11.

The preparedness forum is designed to inform Sisters Country residents of the inherent risks of living in Sisters as well as to provide solutions to mitigate the risk.

“The forum is designed to provide practical and actionable solutions that everyone can benefit from,” Chief Johnson said.

While many people believe their local fire department only responds to burning buildings, the reality is much different. Modern fire departments, including the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District, are actually “all hazard” response agencies.

Chief Johnson said, “The reality is that if someone is in trouble, they call 911 and ask for help. Firefighters must possess the knowledge and skills to help, regardless of the emergency.” Nearly 80 percent of the 911 calls received by the Fire District are for emergency medical care. The Fire District staffs two advanced life support ambulances and has a service area of nearly 800 square miles. The fire district responded to over 1,400 emergency calls for help in 2022.

The potential for a significant disaster in Sisters is real, Chief Johnson notes, and the impacts on emergency responders would be significant. Emergency response organizations are similar to other businesses in that they are staffed to meet the needs of customers on a normal day. The ability to recall staffing from home and utilize volunteer responders can add to available staffing during peak demand periods. Other regional fire departments can often provide assistance through existing mutual aid agreements. The Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal also manages a statewide mutual aid system that can provide resources from around the state when needed. The challenge with larger scale disasters is that agencies that would normally be able to help are also dealing with the same emergency, and aren’t available to help their neighbors.

During a disaster the possibility of local responders being overwhelmed with requests for help and unable to respond in a timely manner is real. Local residents play a critical role in keeping their family safe and ensuring resources are available for those who need it most.

Johnson says he expects that residents attending the Emergency Preparedness Forum will hear valuable information, and will leave with the skills necessary to become prepared for any disaster.


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