Picture_23.pngEMERGENCY INFORMATION


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MOUNTAIN ACCESS AND TRAVEL POLICY

(1) For CHARA personnel or observers using the CHARA facilities, the
CHARA Site Manager will have overriding authority to determine if road/weather
conditions are safe to travel to or from the Observatory. The CHARA site manager
also has the authority to order an evacuation of CHARA personnel well ahead of
any winter storm or inclement weather.

(2) Drive well under the posted speed limit on the road as conditions may
change instantly and unpredictably. Never drive onto a significant mudflow or
rock slide. Sharp rocks flatten tires and mud has little or no traction. Also do
not stop and clear rocks out of the road; small slides are often a portent of a
much larger, more dangerous slide. If anything more than the most minor
debris is encountered on the road, turn around and go back.

(3) All vehicles traveling to the observatory are required to be in good operating
condition, and drivers are urged to fill their gas tanks before heading up the
Angeles Crest. At the very least, you must have a minimum of 1/2 tank of fuel before starting up. Your
tire condition must be such that you have at least 1/8 inch of remaining tread on each tire and there is a
serviceable spare tire and jack in your trunk

(4) Understand that even in clear weather, one could become trapped between two large impassable
rock slides. With the unstable mountain slopes, slides can occur at any time, not just during active
rainfalls. With this in mind, all vehicles routinely traveling the roads should carry onboard enough
provisions for an overnight stay on the highway without hope of rescue. For residents and commuting
staff, a “survival kit” must be included in the vehicle containing items such as: sub-freezing clothing;
gloves; a blanket; water; food; toilet paper; flashlight with good batteries; and a fully charged cell
phone. For those with enough trunk space, a small flat shovel may also be handy. For transient visitors
utilizing rental cars, consult with Mountain staff, as appropriate, to determine if you should be
escorted up the mountain by an Observatory vehicle.

(5) Understand that by coming up to the Observatory there is always the possibility of becoming
stranded there for an unscheduled extended stay. There have been instances when the skies have gone
from clear blue to an outright cloudburst or snow storm in less than 30 minutes on Mount Wilson.
Attempting to leave under such circumstances could have dire effects. A sudden freak storm like this
could potentially close all access to and from the Observatory for as much as a 2- or 3-week period. Be
sure you have extra food provisions for this, and the advance mental fortitude to “wait it out,” if
necessary, before committing yourself to an observing run.

(6) Access to the Observatory is governed by the regulations and restrictions set by Caltrans, the Forest
Service, Los Angeles County and the CHP. It is essential that their regulations and all verbal
instructions given you by their officers and representatives be followed scrupulously and that no
attempt is made to circumvent them in any way.


FIRE
  1. On all Red Flag Warning days as identified by the National Weather Service and during periods of Critical Fire Danger in the Angeles National Forest as stipulated by the US Forest Service, a white board will be posted on a daily basis outside the MWI office listing 1) the On Duty/On Site individual to contact in case of emergency and 2) the designated Fire Watch for the period. If you notice anything that is cause for alarm please report it immediately to the On Duty/On Site person.
  2. The fire alarm system will only be activated if there is an imminent danger of fire at the Observatory. Imminent danger is defined as any fire on the Observatory grounds or in the surrounding area having a potential to reach the Observatory with 24 hours. The Incident Command (IC) crew will normally activate the alarm for fires burning in the local area but off the Observatory grounds, however any Observatory personnel can activate the alarm system if needed. Situations such as spot fires near your residence or structure fires on the Observatory grounds are but two examples where Observatory residents or visitors might activate the alarm themselves.
  3. Should the fire alarm system be activated, the marshalling point for all personnel at the Observatory is the 5-way road intersection near the MWI office building. Upon hearing the fire alarm (fire siren at 60” and 100” domes or fire bell in Monastery), you are to proceed to the marshalling point on foot and await further instructions from the Incident Commander in charge. Please do not drive your vehicle to the marshalling point as that area will need to be kept clear for emergency response vehicles.
  4. The Incident Commander will conduct a head count at the marshalling point. You will be asked if there are any visitors at the Observatory of which you have knowledge that are not accounted for in the head count. The Incident Commander will dispatch member(s) of the IC crew to retrieve any persons not accounted for at the marshalling point.
  5. Criteria for evacuation are as follows: Imminent danger as defined in 2 above; escape route down the Red Box Road and Angeles Crest Highway is clear and open.
  6. Criteria for sheltering-in-place are as follows: Imminent danger as defined in 2 above; escape route down the Red Box Road and/or Angeles Crest Highway is cut off.
  7. If the Incident Commander determines that the Observatory must be evacuated, please understand that it will be a MANDATORY evacuation. All personnel except those on the IC crew will be required to leave the Observatory.
  8. Depending on the severity of the emergency (how imminent a danger is posed), you may be allowed back to your residence/office to gather your most valuable personal belongings before evacuating. This will be a judgment call by the Incident Commander in charge. If the danger is such that immediate evacuation is required and an order has been issued by the Incident Commander, you won’t be allowed to linger on the Observatory ground to retrieve personal belongings. Please understand that human life is more valuable than material possessions, so don’t put yourself or any IC crew member in danger by ignoring the instructions of the Incident Commander. As you exit the Observatory please do not stop or park in the lower parking lot of the Pavilion area as it is reserved for emergency vehicles and aircraft staged to fight a fire.
  9. If the Incident Commander determines that Observatory personnel must be sheltered-in-place, you will be escorted to the 100” dome Coude Room, where provisions are in place for safely surviving a fire. Pets can be sheltered on the ground floor of the 100” dome outside the Coude Room. The Incident Commander and his crew will be the liaison between the Observatory personnel in the 100” Coude Room and the outside agencies responding to the emergency, and will keep you informed as to the status of emergency response efforts. Do not leave the 100” dome until an ALL CLEAR has been issued.