In her last time leading the Mountain Emergency Service Committee meeting, Gina Moran-McGough, new emergency services manager in Riverside County’s Office of Emergency Services, led the group in singing “The 12 Stages of Emergency Preparedness,” which is very similar to “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Moran-McGough has been promoted within OES and Kathleen Henderson will become the emergency services coordinator for the Hill. She has many years of experience with Riverside County Fire Department, including several as a firefighter.

Before the meeting concluded, Mike Esnard, Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council president, asked Moran-McGough what lessons had been learned from the Mountain Fire this summer.

Although fire agencies have not had time for an official after-action assessment, she offered several personal observations. First were the importance of plans, including evacuation, that the Mountain Area Safety Taskforce had been preparing for years. “Many take MAST for granted,” she said.

“We prepared for the worst that could happen and it did,” said RCFD Mountain Battalion Chief Sean Dakin. “It was eye-opening — the area was so prepared.”

WNKI is an important resource, Moran-McGough added. “Everybody listens to this.”

A third lesson was the advantage of involving the Hemet Unified School District early in the planning. The district became a vital asset — helping to evacuate the camps and providing an evacuation center.

“They were able to supply buses very quickly,” she said.

Finally, Moran-McGough praised the Hill and organizations, such as Mountain Disaster Preparedness, for their ability to unify for the good and safety of the whole community.

“Everyone comes together whenever we need to do it,” Moran-McGough said. “You don’t see that elsewhere in the county.”

J.P. Crumrine can be reached at [email protected].