SACRAMENTO – In the wake of the devastating tornado that hit Oklahoma yesterday, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today directed the California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA) to deploy specialists from California’s Urban Search & Rescue teams to assist in response and recovery efforts.
At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), six specialists from five California-based national Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces are on their way to help coordinate and support operations conducted by national task forces from Nebraska, Tennessee and Texas.
“Our thoughts are with the communities impacted by Monday’s tornado and we stand ready to assist,” said Governor Brown.
The six specialists from California include two representatives from the Los Angeles County Fire Department and one each from the Los Angeles City Fire Department, Oakland Fire Department, Sacramento City Fire Department and Orange County Fire Authority.
“We are monitoring the situation closely, are in contact with FEMA and will coordinate additional support if requested,” said California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA) Secretary Mark Ghilarducci.
Eight California-based Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces—each composed of 70 or more personnel—participate in the National Urban Search and Rescue System managed by FEMA and provide California with approximately 640 personnel specializing in disciplines such as search and rescue, first aid, heavy equipment operations, canine search and rescue, hazardous materials, logistics and communications.
The California Emergency Management Agency was honored with a visit from some of the state’s brightest young minds today. Students from the St. John Notre Dame School Robotics Team joined the Office of Public Information at Cal EMA for a tour of the headquarters facility in Sacramento.
The team’s current challenge was to understand the impacts of natural disasters for FIRST LEGO League’s (FLL) Nature’s Fury contest. This contest asks children 9 to 16 from more than 70 countries to design robots that could be a part of the mitigation and emergency response efforts before, during and after a natural disaster. Nature’s Fury kicks off this fall, but St. John Notre Dame students used the field trip to Cal EMA to get a head start on their projects.
St. John Norte Dame coordinated the robotics 10 team members, ranging in ages 9 to 13, and two parent coaches to visit the State Operations Center, Joint Information Center and see where state, federal, public and private sector emergency managers respond to the state’s largest and most complex emergencies.
First implemented by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004, Golden Guardian,California’s Annual Statewide Exercise Series, has become the most comprehensive state-level exercise series program in the country. The goal of Golden Guardian is to exercise and assess emergency operations plans, policies, and procedures for all-hazards/catastrophic incidents at the local, regional, and state levels.
To watch Cal EMA’s LIVE webcast for updates on the exercise click right here.
On Wednesday, the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) and its local, state and federal partners will test plans for responding to a catastrophic earthquake in the Bay Area in conjunction with the state’s 2013 Golden Guardian Exercise.
“This year’s exercise will provide us with an opportunity to test key elements of the ‘California Catastrophic Incident Base Plan: Concept of Operations’ as well the ‘San Francisco Bay Area Earthquake Readiness Response: Concept of Operations Plan’ before the next major earthquake strikes,” said Cal EMA Secretary Mark Ghilarducci.
As part of this year’s exercise, which will begin approximately 48 hours after a simulated magnitude-7.9 earthquake has occurred along the San Andreas Fault and affected 10 Bay Area counties, Cal EMA will activate the State Operations Center (SOC) at Cal EMA Headquarters in Mather and deploy emergency management experts to selected county operational area emergency centers to support exercise operations there.
Major objectives of the exercise include testing the interactions between California’s Emergency Functions (EFs) and their federal counterparts, FEMA’s Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) as they develop joint incident action plans, and evaluating procedures for requesting skilled emergency management personnel from unaffected cities and counties in California through the state’s Emergency Managers Mutual Aid (EMMA) plan. Cal EMA is also using the exercise to test its new WebEOC application, which will be used starting this fall to track emergency-related information. .
“We have long recognized that a magnitude 7.8 or larger earthquake on the San Andreas in either the Bay Area or Southern California will overwhelm state and local resources and that assistance from federal agencies, as well as other states and the private sector, will be necessary to conduct search and rescue operations, suppress fires, treat the injured, provide food, shelter and other essential services,” said Ghilarducci. “That’s why we and our partner agencies have placed a major emphasis on preparing to respond to several catastrophic events by testing our systems and procedures through California’s Golden Guardian exercise program.”
In addition Cal EMA’s activation of the SOC, 2013 Golden Guardian activities:
- State-level participation by the California Earthquake Clearinghouse; California Energy Commission; California Emergency Medical Services Authority; California Environmental Protection Agency; California National Guard; California Utilities Emergency Association; California Volunteers; California Highway Patrol; California Air Resources Board; California Natural Resources Agency; California State Lands Commission; Cal Fire, California Department of Toxic Substance Control; the California Technology Agency; as well as the departments of Corrections and Rehabilitation; Food & Agriculture; General Services; Motor Vehicles; Public Health; Social Services; Transportation; and Water Resources.
- Deployment by FEMA of its Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) to the State Operations Center; and
- Operational Area Emergency Operations Center activations by the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano counties, the City and County of San Francisco, well as the County of Monterey, using its portable EOC.
Additional information about the 2013 Golden Guardian Exercise is available at http://www.calema.ca.gov/TrainingandExercises/Pages/Golden-Guardian.aspx
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They train to be ready for response to some of the world’s most devastating disasters. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina re-wrote the history books for North American disasters and they were there. They are the swift water rescue teams of California.
This week, Cal EMA’s Fire and Rescue Division and the California Fire & Rescue Training Authority are conducting a Cal EMA Statewide Swift Water Search and Rescue (SF/S&R) Training for 13 State Swift Water Rescue Teams, eight of which are connected to the State/National Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces.
This training provides guidelines and techniques for deploying rescue operations by boat including basic boat, flat water, night and swift water operations. The skills and methods being taught were developed by Cal EMA’s US&R Swift Water Flood Rescue Committee to ensure emergency responders have the knowledge and skill to perform life-saving rescue operations.
The main goal of such a rescue is to save the life of the endangered person in a high-powered water situation such as the1995 Central Valley Floods, the 1996-1997 statewide flooding and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Eight search and rescue teams were deployed to New Orleans. In 2008, eight Cal EMA SF S&R teams were requested to respond to the states of Louisiana and Texas following hurricanes Ike and Gustav.
The training is also designed to help the teams create self-sufficiency. Upon completion, participating trainers will be able to go back and train their own teams, thus creating continuity and sustainability.
This training is being held through Friday in the Sacramento Area at Arden Pond, Discovery Park and Salmon Falls. US&R Task Force/Swiftwater Teams participating in this training include:
- City of Los Angeles Fire Department
- Los Angeles County Fire Department
- Menlo Park Fire Department
- Oakland Fire Department
- Orange County Fire Authority
- City of Riverside Fire Department
- City of Sacramento Fire Department
- San Diego Fire Department
- Sacramento Metro Fire Department
- Ventura County Fire Department
- Marin County Fire Department
- Long Beach Fire Department
- Stockton Fire Department
“The participation of the 13 teams in a single training session helps provide incident commanders with an invaluable tool for responses to water-related emergencies that require the deployment of resources from outside the affected area by helping ensure consistency in our response efforts,” said Cal EMA Secretary Mark Ghilarducci. “This week’s training is also an excellent example of how California is using state and federal state homeland security funds to meet the needs of communities in California and the other states in nation after a major emergency.”
During the 1995 Floods in Central California, Cal EMA purchased 10 Swiftwater Flood Search & Rescue Caches. These initial caches consisted of 10-foot long cargo trailers, inflatable rubber boats, motors, water personal protective clothing and other specialized water rescue equipment. The Cal EMA SF S&R caches were assigned to the original eight State/National Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces. Two additional local fire agencies were asked to participate, making the total number of teams to ten from the original eight teams.
Statewide flooding in 1996 and 1997 allowed Cal EMA to purchase additional equipment to support larger emergency operations. In 2001 and 2003, Cal EMA again purchased equipment as required to support emergency operations.
In 2007, Cal EMA was granted $1.8 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the California Homeland Security. These funds were principally used to upgrade eight of the teams and add three additional Cal EMA-SF-S&R Teams; outfit all 13 with Fire Service Utility Response vehicles towing 20-foot trailers; replace aging inflatable rubber boats with boat motors; and replace water rescue personal protective clothing. The three new Cal EMA-SF-S&R Teams were placed with fire agencies in or near deep water ports to supplement the local response to a possible terrorist threat to a port.
More images of the Statewide Swift Water Search and Rescue training can be viewed here .
To read the original press release about the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services sending swiftwater assets to the Hurricane Katrina disaster area, click here.
Today the state’s leading emergency managers stood with Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. to announce the beginning of Wildfire Awareness Week. The announcement comes on the heels of one of the state’s earliest and strongest starts to the official fire season. Gov. Brown made it very clear that the state’s emergency resource agencies are not just concerned about this year’s wildfire season, but those to come as well.
“We aught to recognize that our climate is changing and the weather is getting intense,” Brown said. “This business of fire, is devastating to those that it affects. We have to be ready for it. ….We’ve got a big job ahead and you’ve got my backing.”
During Wildfire Awareness Week state and local agencies stress that home and property owners throughout the Golden State take measures to prepare their families, loved ones, friends, property and workplaces for potential fires. Wildfire prevention is extremely important during the hot, dryer months when a small spark can ignite a devastating blaze.
California Emergency Management Agency Secretary Mark Ghilarducci said the mutual aid system in California is well prepared to respond to this year’s anticipated wildfire season, but preparedness starts at home.
“Our hearts go out to those folks that have already been impacted by this year’s fires,” Secretary Ghilarducci said. “Ninety-four percent of fires are human caused, which means they are preventable. Help your friends, your family and community by taking steps to prepare and stopping these fires from starting in the first place.”
Already this year, there have been fires that are most typical to mid- and late-summer weather conditions. The Panther Fire in Tehama County burned more than 6,800 acres and the Springs Fire in Ventura County burned more than 28,000 acres, aided by challenging weather conditions early on. Because of these two large fires, the cities of Thousand Oaks and Camarillo, as well as the County of Ventura, have submitted proclamations of local emergencies.
“Although the weather is cool here today, don’t let that fool you. Conditions are right in California at any given time,” CalFIRE Director Ken Pimlott said. “Most of California has been identified as at threat for large and damaging fires. The time is now to prepare your homes for wildfire.”
As of today, there are wildfires burning in California, Montana, Arizona, Oregon, Virginia, New Mexico and Florida.
- See more images from today’s press event here.
- Click here to see the National Interagency Coordination Center’s Daily Situation Report for fires across the United States.
- Click here to find more live-updated fire incident information from around the country across multiple jurisdictions.
- If you want to see your locations risks to fires, as well as floods and earthquakes, you can visit our MyHazards webpage. Just simply insert your address at the top of the page and receive specific tips to your location!