By Sarah Jackson
Special to Sierra News Online
YOSEMITE LAKES PARK — Public safety agencies, nonprofit groups and businesses came together Saturday to promote a positive message at the First Annual Yosemite Lakes Park Safety & Health Fair. The event, sponsored by the Yosemite Lakes Owners Association Disaster and Safety-Health (D.A.S.H.) Committee and hosted at the Yosemite Lakes Clubhouse, offered area residents tips on everything from personal health and well being to how to prepare for emergencies and put out a small fire.
Event attendees entered a drawing for a chance to win various door prizes, learned how to properly use a fire extinguisher and spoke to a variety of representatives from area health and safety organizations.
Blood pressure checks, free vision tests and health education pamphlets were also available. Lunch was provided by the Blue Heron Restaurant.
D.A.S.H. Committee Chairperson and Yosemite Lakes Owners Association Board Member Michelle Piotrowski said the purpose of the day’s event was to promote awareness in the community for emergency preparedness as well as health and safety.
The D.A.S.H. Committee will send a representative to various community meetings to speak about topics like preparing your house for fire season and evacuation preparation for families, groups and pets.
“If you and your spouse are at work, your kids are at school, and the pets are at home when a fire or other disaster strikes, what is your plan?” Piotrowski said. “You likely won’t be able to all meet up back at the house and gather your things. Have a plan!”
Madera County Sheriff Jay Varney attended the event and spoke about his department’s Operation Lost & Found Program, which aims to serve autism, Alzheimer’s and dementia patients along with their caregivers by streamlining the response to calls of an at-risk wanderer.
Participants in Operation Lost & Found receive a wristband with a personalized transmitter. Members of the Madera County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Volunteers even visit client homes regularly to inspect the wristbands, install new batteries and talk with clients and their families. The personalized signal in the wristband transmitter can help rescuers find clients much more rapidly.
“We had an OLF (Operation Lost & Found) client in YLP wander off some time ago,” said Sheriff Varney. “Because he was wearing his wristband, we were able to respond and find him much more quickly. Usually, when we get these calls, our deputies have to gather information before beginning the search. With the OLF program, they already have that information ready to go.”
The sheriff also emphasized the peace of mind the program provides caregivers. “Caretakers tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves and I hope this provides some level of confidence. It does give us better outcomes.”
For more information, contact the Madera County Sheriff’s Office Oakhurst Substation at 559-642-3201.
Oakhurst CHP Commander Lieutenant Craig Hinch was also at Saturday’s event. Lieutenant Hinch and his wife, Nichole, also volunteer with the Madera County Search and Rescue with their scent-specific dogs.
Nichole Hinch has located one missing person with her scent trailing dog and has provided critical assistance in four other cases. Lt. Hinch’s scent trailing dog was recently certified and is ready to help in the case of a wander-off or missing person.
Lt. Hinch was complimentary of the Safety & Health Fair. “This event is a great collaboration between state, county and private entities. It brings the community together as a team and highlights the partnerships and services available.”
CHP Officer Luis Lugo wanted to remind the community of the importance of distracted driving awareness, as well as the educational programs available to them. “We have Impact Teen Drivers, Age Well Drive Smart, and Start Smart programs available. We just received a projector through a grant, which enables me to come to your schools, workplaces or any private or public meeting to give a safe driving presentation.”
Officer Lugo said the classes are all free and provided for by a grant through the Office of Traffic Safety. To inquire or schedule an appointment, call Oakhurst CHP at 559-658-6590.
Camarena Health Representative Melissa Alvarado was at the event raising awareness of the Coarsegold Health Center and flu shots. Camarena Health Coarsegold offers obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics, family medicine and health education in their Coarsegold location Monday through Friday, and psychiatric care on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The health center is located in Coarsegold across from Subway at 35324 Highway 41.
Flu shots are available at both the Oakhurst and Coarsegold locations. “The flu season starts in October and runs through April, so if you received a flu shot earlier this year you still need the flu shot for this new season,” Alvarado stated. Flu shot are available on a walk-in basis.
Also participating in Saturday’s Safety and Health Fair:
Madera County Fire Department Stations 10 (Yosemite Lakes Park) and Station 8 (Chukchansi)
29453 Glacier Drive, Coarsegold
35300 CA-41 Suite 101, Coarsegold
Central California Animal Disaster Team
United States Census 2020
Red Cross Oakhurst
United States Forest Service – Sierra National Forest
1600 Tollhouse Road, Clovis
Mountain Amateur Radio Club
Rite Aid Pharmacy
49060 Road 426, Oakhurst
State Farm Insurance
40315 Junction Drive, Suite A, Oakhurst
Sojourn Hospice and Palliative Care
Johnnie’s Place Care Home for the Elderly
37376 Romero Lane, Coarsegold
Optimal Hospice Care
Coarsegold Kenpo Karate
28420 Yosemite Springs Parkway, Coarsegold
Primerica Financial Services
2490 W. Shaw Avenue, Fresno
Yosemite Lakes Owners Association Security
30250 Yosemite Springs Parkway, Coarsegold
Mountain Medical Supply