Imperial County Fire Chief Tony Rouhotas Jr.

Easter Quake Took Lives, Rattled Nerves, Challenged New Fire Chief

At 3:40 in the afternoon on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010, the Baja California earthquake struck, registering a 7.2 magnitude on the moment magnitude scale. It’s epicenter was 16 miles south of Guadalupe Victoria, Baja California, Mexico. It’s said to have lasted about a minute and a half. The strongest shaking was felt in the ejido of Alberto Oviedo Mota, in the municipality of Mexicali, Calexico, and Guadalupe Victoria. Most of the damage in this earthquake occurred in the twin cities of Mexicali and Calexico on the Mexico–United States border. Four people were killed and 100 people were injured.

Imperial County, California, immediately activated its emergency operations center while first responders rolled into action. Leading the charge was the relatively new fire chief Tony Rouhotas, Jr.; he was also the OES coordinator. Chief Rouhotas was suddenly facing the kind of situation he’d never dealt with before — a large earthquake that damaged buildings and injured people both in his county as well as in his neighboring Mexicali. Despite being south of the border his agency had an international agreement with them to provide mutual aid. The challenges he faced and the decisions he had to make were immense but he stepped up to the plate and swung for the fences. What he learned during and after that disaster paid dividends for him, and it can for you too. Take a listen.

 

Shawn Boyd

Shawn Boyd joined Cal OES as a public information officer in 2014 after a 20-year career in television news as a reporter, anchor and executive producer. He's a Cal State Sacramento alum and former US Navy yeoman and Air Force brat.

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