Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Orange County Grand jury: County is prepared for disaster

If disaster strikes, Orange County is in pretty good shape to respond, says a recent grand jury report looking at the county’s disaster preparedness.

But OC residents need to do more to be more proactive about preparing for the next big earthquake or fire or flood, says the grand jury.

The group looked at emergency operations across the county. Despite glowing reviews of many of the programs, which you can read in the report here, they did call out a couple minor deficiencies.

Here they are, pulled directly from the report. (A note about acronyms: EOC means Emergency Operations Center.)

* Westminster’s EOC is located in the A/B room of the Community Services Building and it takes approximately two hours to set up for an emergency incident. A new police building is under construction and upon completion, the EOC will relocate to that location. This new location will provide everything a modern EOC requires: emergency backup power, central storage for emergency supplies, on-site staffing, and the latest in communications capabilities. The city does not include staff in its quarterly “tabletop” exercises.
* Costa Mesa’s immediate backup EOC is located either in the Police Department Communications room or at Fire Station #5, both located in the same area as the primary EOC. If the primary EOC should be damaged due to earthquake or fire, this could also affect the backup EOC at either location.
* In an emergency, the City of Santa Ana will use firefighters from Station #3 to assist in setting up the EOC on the second deck of the Public Works Administration Building. Backup EOC locations include the Police Headquarters, Red Cross Building, tents and a mobile command center.
* The San Clemente EOC is set up from scratch in a multi-use conference room in the Utilities Administration building. That location was chosen because the structure was constructed to state required earthquake specifications and supported by the Utilities Yard emergency generator. All the requisite equipment to support a disaster response is stored in a secure closet and readily transportable.
* Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) has an EOC that complies with the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS), and mobile EOC outfitted with all the equipment, communications, and resources of its primary EOC, sufficient to support emergency functions should any incident occur. CUSD has an extensive data base, virtual mapping and photographs of each school in the district, and has individual job descriptions for each position.
* California has tried to raise public awareness of earthquake dangers by holding an annual drill called the Great California Shake Out (first conducted in 2008). But emergency services officials say they are worried that residents have lost the sense of urgency, particularly as people change residences, forget to refresh supplies and assume local, state and federal government agencies will provide for them.

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