BY LEON WORDEN SCVNEWS.COM
Since 1952, the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District’s Operations Department has functioned as the backbone of GLACVCD’s service delivery in protecting residents from human infection associated with mosquito-transmitted diseases.
“As a vector abatement agency, our primary concern at GLACVCD is protecting public health from mosquito borne illnesses,” said Underground Storm Drain Supervisor Kevin Vargas. “Because climatic conditions in California perpetuate mosquito breeding year-round, we don’t have the down time that other parts of the country experience,” he said.
“Summer, however, is our busiest time of year, so we hire part-time seasonal help which allows us to respond to the increase in mosquito activity while also maintaining our commitment to providing a consistent level of service to our constituents.”
The Operations Department is staffed by 44 full-time employees. This year, as in years past, the District will hire 20 to 25 seasonal workers who will work on a part-time basis from spring until late fall.
Vector Control Specialist Warren Eberhardt has worked for the District since 2004 and has earned his stripes as a lead trainer. He is one of 15 vector control specialists working in the Underground Storm Drain (USD) program which is a subsection of the Operations Department. “Warren is one of my key people,” said Vargas. “I really appreciate how consistent he is. He helped train two newly hired full-time employees, and for the past three years, he has been great with training our seasonal help.”
Vector control specialists assigned to the USD program work to treat and conduct mosquito surveillance of 9,000 miles of urban underground tubes and conduits that transport urban run-off to the ocean. To date, the team has mapped close to 27,000 manhole covers.
“I don’t look at my job as just going out to spray treatments in storm drains,” said Vector Control Specialist Warren Eberhardt. “What I really like is the discovery aspect of what we do,” he said. “When we are working in an area, we are sleuthing, and it’s a hunt to keep ahead of the mosquito. We are always discovering new areas of concern and we add them to the maps we have in place. It’s like a scavenger hunt, and the fact that I can work outdoors is great for me because I’ve always been an outdoors person,” he said.
District vector control specialists are licensed and certified by the California Department of Public Health in pesticide laws and regulations, as well as mosquito biology, terrestrial invertebrates, and vertebrate vector control. Each USD vector control specialist plays a critical role on a three-person crew, comprised of: a lead driver, a spray technician, and a follow-up driver. “Every week we work with a different crew and we rotate through the three positions,” said Eberhardt. “Between our Sylmar and Santa Fe Springs offices, we work all areas of the 1,330 square miles of the District’s jurisdiction,” he said. “I really love what I’m doing; I get to see a lot of different areas and a wide variety of neighborhoods. There’s always something new.”
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