2024 February 15 San Bernardino County After Action Report Praises CalDART
The San Bernardino County after action report of the 2023 snow disaster is a document that summarizes the events, challenges, successes, and lessons learned from the county’s response to the unprecedented winter storm that hit the mountain communities in February and March 2023. The storm brought over 11 feet of snow, causing widespread power outages, road closures, and stranded residents. The food distribution system collapsed, and CalDART helped keep people fed with its helicopter airlift coordinated with residents on the mountain. The county activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and Incident Management Team (IMT) to coordinate the multi-agency efforts to provide rescue, relief and recovery services to the affected areas. The report was authorized by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and County Administrative Office. The report was developed by Connect Consulting Services (CCS), an emergency management firm that served as a neutral third party entity to evaluate the response. CCS received input from various stakeholders including the county’s Office of Emergency Services (OES), the Sheriff’s Department, the Fire Department, the Public Works Department, the Third District Supervisor, and the local residents. The report identifies the strengths and areas of improvement of the county’s storm response, as well as the best practices and recommendations for future preparedness and mitigation. CalDART’s participation was called out as a strength of the operation on page 19, along with Team Rubicon, Big Bear Mountain Resort, and unnamed school districts and faith-based organizations. “Strengths:….Additionally, California Disaster Airlift Response Team (CalDART) brought food and supplies to the communities, and Team Rubicon helped clear snow from properties.” For further information on what CalDART did during this disaster, scroll down to our news release below 2023 Feb 28 – Mar 8 San Bernardino Mountains Snow Disaster. You can find the county’s report publicly posted at SanBernardinoCounty-2023-Winter-Storm-After-Action-Report.pdf (sbcounty.gov)
2023 September 15 Grass Valley DART Supports Nevada County OES: Gary Vosters of Grass Valley DART sends in this compelling story: “This summer, CalDART received a request from the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services to participate in their Senior Executive Workshop. This request created an opportunity to showcase Nevada County airports as well as Grass Valley’s CalDART capacities by providing VIP flights to county executives. CalDART flew 21 OES passengers from various departments, such as infrastructure, transportation, and natural resources. These flights allowed its passengers to gain a new perspective on their county from the sky.
On the morning of September 15, CalDART flew 21 OES passengers, totaling approximately 6 hours and covering roughly 650 nautical miles throughout the county. Several different routes were utilized. One route demonstrated transportation between Nevada County Airport and Truckee, with the flight taking only about 19 minutes. Another route flew from Nevada County Airport along Highway 49 to survey dams, roads, bridges, train rights of way, and other infrastructure. This route then proceeded up Interstate 80 to Blue Canyon, surveying infrastructure and roads. To complete their flight, they flew over the Highway 20 Omega-Curve Project to survey the project from the air.
CalDART had five pilots participate from various counties in the Northern California region. Two pilots were local, two were from Santa Clara County (Reid Hillview Airport & Palo Alto Airport), and one was from Sacramento. CalDART expresses its appreciation for the contributions of these five pilots. Special thanks go to Ken Meyers, who flew both of his airplanes to accommodate different missions, and Diane Gaskill, who at the end of the day gave one of our volunteers a scenic flight to Yosemite.
The event was a great success for the participants from OES as well as CalDART. This collaborative event allowed the senior executives of our county to explore the important services that CalDART could provide to our community in case of an emergency. This event created an opportunity for our county executives to expand their knowledge about the resources available to our county while affirming and inspiring the connection between CalDART and Nevada County.”
2023 July 9 Thunder Run Exercise Mutual Aid: CalDART supported an international west coast exercise organized by Sky Terry of NW EVAC consisting of participating DARTs (Disaster Airlift Response Teams) from Washington State, Oregon, California, and British Columbia. CalDART worked with local food bank Joseph Company out of Marysville to deliver two planeloads of donated food to the Oregon DART hub in Bend, Oregon. See the 2023 Thunder Run video here.
2023 May 13 CalDART Statewide Disaster Exercise: CalDART enhanced its position in the statewide disaster response community with this exercise, going beyond the strong local relationships fostered by its 13 local DARTs for the past decade. With this exercise, CalDART advertised its availability to disaster response people throughout California – police, fire, emergency services organizations in cities, counties and at the state and federal level, as well as the member organizations of Norcal and Socal VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster). 256 people from 46 separate counties registered for the exercise. 115 disaster responders attended the 90-minute webinar explaining what CalDART does and how it provides service. Another 170 people watched the webinar video once it was posted on YouTube. 43 pilots expressed interest in supporting the exercise, and 22 were eventually selected to fly to the 39 airports to deliver their virtual shipments to the waiting disaster responders. We operated into and out of 64 local airports around California and Oregon supporting the exercise, landing at rural, suburban, and metro areas around the state, where ever we were requested. Oregon DART and Angel Flight West provided mutual aid. Sacramento KCRA 3 covered the event on their morning news show. In addition to building better relationships with disaster responders around the state, this exercise gave CalDART valuable experience in organizing a larger response.
2023 Feb 28 – Mar 8 San Bernardino Mountains Snow Disaster: A series of powerful Pacific snow storms pounded the San Bernardino Mountains throughout the winter of early 2023, peaking in late February when the County of San Bernardino and Caltrans could not keep open the highways and neighborhood streets of mountain communities such as Lake Arrowhead, Crestline, Valley of Enchantment, Running Springs, Green Valley Lake, and Twin Peaks. A few people became trapped inside their homes, and approximately 20,000 residents could not drive to the store to buy food for a couple of weeks at the end of February. 1 mountain grocery store collapsed, and another was red tagged due to imminent collapse. Fortunately, cell phone and internet service was mostly still working. Sky Terry of NW EVAC and the West Coast General Aviation Response Plan became aware of specific mountain people posting on Facebook requesting assistance on Feb 28, and connected CalDART’s Paul Marshall and Ron Lovick on March 1. By March 2, Ron showed up at San Bernardino Community Hospital with a powerful turbine helicopter, and its pilot and began ferrying needed medical supplies and food to the sister Mountains Community Hospital on the hill. CalDART’s effort expanded during the next week, eventually involving 10 helicopter pilots making 37 flights and delivering 21,000 lbs of supplies from the valley floor to points on the mountain. CalDART helped the local community organize itself, forming a local group eventually called Operation Mountain Strong. The group coordinated the food donations in the San Bernardino valley and the food distribution across the San Bernardino Mountains, while CalDART provided the airlift service to move the donations from the valley floor to points on the mountain. ABC 7 News covered CalDART’s operation here, and YouTube’s Heavy Dave made a nice video depicting the overall problem here.
2022 December 20 – Humboldt County Earthquake: A powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Humboldt county leaving a wide area without power and with roadway outages. Mark Dibelka, the Missioner for Disaster Resilience for the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California, on the afternoon of December 22 requested CalDART to pick up emergency supplies from a variety of caches throughout northern California and deliver them to Fortuna to assist with the disaster response there. CalDART’s Peter Campo volunteered as DART Incident Commander and quickly organized airplanes and pilots to pick up the supplies from various local airports near the caches, delivering the requested supplies to Fortuna Airport into the hands of waiting Episcopal parishioners on Dec 23rd.
2022 04 14 CalDART Annual Membership Meeting: See highlights from the CalDART Annual Membership Meeting. See the CalDART President Paul Marshall’s review of 2021 and targets for 2022 here. See the Executive Director of the Air Care Alliance tell us about public benefit flying organizations across the USA and their support for disaster response here. Jim Gates of Torrance DART tells us about the Dixie Fire Airlift he organized on behalf of school children burned out of their homes in Greenville, CA, as requested by UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) of SoCal VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster). The airlift was complicated by IFR conditions, a Fire TFR near the community in need, and smoke column penetration. Jim provides a thorough treatment of the planning, hazard and risk mitigation, challenges, routes, IFR issues, lessons learned, and pictures from the day. See Jim’s presentation here. Shaun Heaps of BC Aero relates the compelling story of the two-months-long relief airlift he organized in the mountains behind Vancouver BC when the area was stricken by historic rainfall and flooding in November and December. 3 major highways in the area were washed out, isolating numerous communities. Even the Trans-Canada highway was out of service. They saved lives and reduced misery, conducting 728 flights with 83 pilots moving 400,000 lbs of supplies using both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft. His pilots saw communities in panic at the airport fence. One helicopter pilot by chance saved a couple who were recording their last will and testament on their cell phones after being stranded for 3 days on a short section of washed out highway beside a raging river with no supplies, thinking that help would never come and their end was near. See Shaun’s presentation here.
2022 01 01 CalDART Becomes Independent Corporation: CalDART becomes an independent 501(c)3 corporation after divestiture from CalPilots. As CalDART grew and became more complex, the leadership of CalDART and CalPilots began to be distracted by each other’s issues and were having difficulty completing their core missions. They decided it would be simpler for each to be an independent corporation so that their precious volunteer time could be fully focused in mission accomplishment. CalDART thanked CalPilots for helping it through significant start up challenges and for publicizing CalDART to its membership, and CalPilots thanked CalDART for helping expand its membership.
2021 08 17 Dixie Fire UMCOR flight for Greenville School Children: Jim Gates of Torrance DART answered the call when SoCal VOAD’s UMCOR asked us to airlift supplies from Southern California to Greenville to allow the burned out kids to be set to go back to school. Read the Operation Recap here.
2021 02 23 CalDART Annual Meeting: CalDART’s Annual Meeting featured: Randy Rapp (Deputy Chief, Tactical Air Operations, CAL FIRE) presented Fire Traffic Areas; Board elections were held, Ron Lovick (CalDART Gov’t/NGO Liaison Officer and San Diego CalDART Executive Officer) presented Operation Medical Shield activities and lessons learned, Josh Swigart (San Diego CalDART Co-Chair) Flight Operations in the Yurok Crescent City PPE Airlift, Paul Marshall (CalDART President) on 2021 Plans. Watch meeting and presentations here.
2021 01 12 Yurok Indian Klamath River Airlift: CalDART flew donated PPE and medical gowns from Direct Relief in Santa Barbara to the Yurok Indian Tribe on the Klamath River near the Crescent City Airport. See the newspaper article here, and listen to the radio station story here.
2020 09 23 Oregon Firefighter Airlift: CalDART put together a 1-day airlift of 23 planes flying 4873 lbs of KN-95 masks, steel trundle beds, hand sanitizer, and a variety of other items to fire fighters and impacted communities near Eugene Oregon in the midst of historically severe wildfires. Direct Relief of Santa Barbara supplied the operation, and Reach Out World Wide managed the distribution in Oregon. See the 2 minute video here.
2020 05 18 CalDART flies donated face masks from Palo Alto CA to Walla Walla WA: Pilot Brian Dear and his son Sebastian fly a load of donated face shields to a community in need as requested by their city’s emergency management center. Read the story here.
2020 04 30 CalDART flies Ventilators from San Diego to Sacramento to assist with emergency deployments: Read the story here.