Erskine Fire Highlights Importance of Public Services

PRESS RELEASE FOR
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Contact: Tom Webster, tom.webster@seiu521.org, (661) 348-3378
Interviews available

Erskine Fire Highlights Importance of Public Services

SEIU Local 521 and other union workers on the front lines

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – The Erskine Fire has consumed over 45,000 acres in Kern County and displaced hundreds of residents. As fire fighters continue to battle the fire, SEIU public service workers are on the front lines making sure residents have what they need. Nurses from the Public Health Department are working in the Kern River Valley to care for residents and disaster workers. People requiring more attention have been taken to Kern Medical, Kern County’s public hospital and only Level 2 trauma center.

“We’re all pulling together for this community. Recovery is going to take a long time and county workers will be here every step of the way,” said Suzanne McWhorter, Public Health Nurse II.

Animal Services officers with horses in the Kern River Valley. (photo from Kern County Animal Shelter Facebook page.)

Animal Services officers with horses in the Kern River Valley. (photo from Kern County Animal Shelter Facebook page.)

Public service workers have also been in the area to help feed and take care of pets since the fire began. Locating, accessing and caring for animals in an emergency requires complex logistics, coordination of access rights with property owners and other emergency departments, and the ability to calmly work with frightened and injured animals who can attack in an instant. In the first five days, over a dozen Animal Services officers rescued animals that had escaped and fed and watered animals that were left inside homes. Animal Services also set up temporary shelters in the mountain communities to house stray and rescued animals.

“We have a great crew who has been putting this community first since day one,” said Daniel Burgess, one of the Animal Services officers who responded to the fire. “They continue to push through with the same vigor no matter how long they’re needed.”

Two kittens rescued in Kernville, CA.

Two kittens rescued in Kernville, CA.

Dogs and cats were later brought to the Kern County Animal Shelter until they could be reunited with their owners. The Kern County Animal Shelter is continuing to do outreach including posting photos of rescued animals on social media.

 

 

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Service Employees International Union, Local 521 represents 40,000 public- and nonprofit, private-sector workers in the California’s central Bay Area region and in the Central Valley. Under a Community First vision, we are committed to making sure the needs of our community, and the vital services we provide our community, come first. We believe our communities thrive when residents, leaders and workers recognize that we are all in this together when it comes to our safety, health, and well-being.

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