The city of Paradise set up a plan to evacuate its population in the event of a wildfire, but what it got was a hydrogen bomb. The evacuation plan was woefully inadequate. Roads were gridlocked. People were trapped, and some died. Catastrophes of this nature require reflection and an honest evaluation of what went wrong. No doubt, city officials have thought of this every single day since the fire.
Hospitals will continue to get caught in California’s large-scale fires. We learned the hard way that evacuation is not always possible. Plans to shelter in place need to be developed. It may not always be possible for hospital personnel to run into a burning building to gather supplies. Thus, emergency kits that are accessible and portable need to be created. The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, but we should prepare ourselves as best as possible.
Dr. Peck is an emergency physician at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital in North Auburn, California. During her military career, she practiced combat and disaster medicine in multiple austere environments.