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Home > Health Topics > Podcasts > Emergency Response in Contra Costa County

Emergency Response in Contra Costa County

November 30, 2007

William Walker, MD
Contra Costa Health Services

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Emergency Response

Last winter, on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the County's Community Warning System alerted me to a fire at Chevron's Richmond refinery. Our Hazardous Materials team and other staff responded.

I'm Dr. William Walker, Director of Contra Costa Health Services, here to talk to you about how Contra Costa Health Services responds to emergencies.

There are many opportunities for us to respond to community and individual emergencies 24 hours a day.

What usually comes to mind when we talk about emergency response is our Haz Mat team, in Level A uniforms that look like they are doing a space walk. We certainly do have a experienced team that is called by the refinery directly or by Sheriff's Dispatch during a crisis. They also often respond to much smaller incidents, involving hazardous materials spills, leaks and even methamphetamine laboratory concerns.

As the Health Officer, I respond to a range of other emergencies. Not a week goes by without dozens of calls of one kind or; some of the situations can be pretty strange -- I recall one involving decaying dead ducks that had to be removed from an East County roadway.

When I get an emergency call now, because of the plans we have and the drills and exercises we do -- along with the Community Warning System and a very high level of collaboration with partners like the Red Cross and the County's Office of Emergency Services, I feel good about our ability to respond. The days of running to a pay phone -- hoping we had enough dimes in our pocket, to find out what was happening -- are gone. I also feel good knowing I have an incredibly committed, competent workforce that stands ready to be mobilized, whether for a community disaster or an individual emergency.

You can find out how to be prepared for emergencies on our website at

And thanks for listening.

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