Honorable William L. Gordon
Santa Barbara Superior Court
1100 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93121
Re: Response to Santa Barbara County Grand Jury Interim Final Report Regarding Preparedness for Disasters
Dear Judge Gordon:
At the May 28, 1996, City Council meeting, the Council voted to accept the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury 1995-96 Interim Final Report on Preparedness for Disasters.
First of all, I would like to thank the members of the Grand Jury for their efforts regarding this most important function of local government. Disaster preparedness is of the utmost importance to us.
The City's responses to the specific findings and recommendations as requested by the Grand Jury are as follows:
Finding 1: Introduced in 1993, California's Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) is now being integrated into the governmental structure of Santa Barbara County and Cities.
Recommendation 1a: The Board of Supervisors and city councils should expand emergency SEMS training for their employees.
Response: The City of Santa Barbara has an emergency management organization in place that is in accordance with the statutory and operational requirements of the Standard Emergency Management System (SEMS). Key personnel have attended SEMS training conducted by the State Office of Emergency Services through the California Specialized Training Institute, and materials and methods have been developed to deliver appropriate levels of SEMS training to all Santa Barbara City employees. Existing plans call for all City employees to receive SEMS training appropriate to their positions and emergency response functions prior to December 1996 the State deadline for SEMS training. Since 1985, 56 employees have attended training conducted by the California State Training Institute as well.
Recommendation 1b: The County Administrator and each city administrator/manager should address aggressively the need to incorporate emergency-related functions into the job descriptions and performance evaluations of county and city employees.
Response: It is critical for employees to understand their job assignment during a disaster. The City uses a number of mechanisms to inform and prepare City employees for their responsibilities during a disaster. Employees are advised that each and all are disaster workers in an emergency pursuant to Ordinance 3082. Employees are personally briefed on their role as a disaster worker and new employees receive a disaster worker registration card with their picture on it for identification purposes during an actual disaster. The City conducts City-wide SEMS training and departments inform employees of their specific assignment in a disaster.
In addition to the City-wide SEMS training, departments train their employees on their role in disasters and employees participate in periodic City-wide disaster exercises. Following both disaster exercises and real emergency incidents, the City reviews its disaster response.
Incorporating specific emergency-related functions into the job description is not recommended because many employees, particularly office workers, perform unique assignments during a disaster that vary based on their department. Job descriptions are based on a worker's job title, i.e., Senior Office Specialist and do not differ based on department assignment.
Each City employee receives an annual performance evaluation. Whenever an employee is evaluated, his/her total performance is considered. Employees, particularly in public safety (Police and Fire) and field workers (Parks, Public Works, Airport and Waterfront) must respond to a variety of emergency situations as a regular part of their job responsibility so their performance in emergency situations, including disasters, is currently considered as an important part of their performance evaluation. For other employees who work in office settings, their responsibilities in an emergency could differ from their regular position and might not easily be incorporated into a performance evaluation, since those assignments occur on an infrequent basis. It should be noted that in the most recent disasters affecting the City, i.e., the Paint fire, the 1995 floods and the January 1, 1996 windstorm, City disaster workers from every department did an admirable job executing their assignments with precision, dedication and great courage.
Finding 4: Emergency planning is essential for the cities in the county. The City of Santa Barbara has a well established emergency preparedness program. The City of Lompoc has developed a detailed program of response and evacuation if Bradbury Dam were to fail.
Recommendation 4a: All municipalities should review and update their needs and resources for improved disaster preparedness, response and recovery.
Response: The City of Santa Barbara maintains a permanent office of Emergency Services which coordinates all City disaster and emergency planning, preparation, training, response and recovery operations. The direction and policy of the Office of Emergency Services is established by the Emergency Services Council. The Emergency Services Council, which meets bimonthly, is composed of the City Administrator's staff and City department heads. A Training Steering Committee, consisting of representatives from various City departments, evaluates disaster and emergency training needs of City employees and makes recommendations to the City of Santa Barbara Emergency Services Council. An adequate emergency services training budget ensures that City Employees are assigned to attend schools and seminars that provide the most current disaster and emergency management information available (see response to Recommendation 1a). Since 1991 the City of Santa Barbara has had a Multi-Hazard Functional Plan that is reviewed and updated to reflect organizational changes, legal changes and changes in hazard potential. Functional exercises are conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of City plans and response capabilities and appropriate action is taken in the event that the exercise discloses any shortcoming in preparation or responses. The most recent exercise was a full scale plane crash simulation at the Airport involving City responders and 21 other responding agencies.
Recommendation 4b: To improve protection for Santa Barbara County citizens, the seven city administrators/managers and also the county emergency officials on the Emergency Services Council should intensify mutual aid programs, coordinate resources within each city, and generate an increased awareness of each city's potential needs in times of disaster.
Response: Emergency Services personnel for the City of Santa Barbara routinely interact with their counterparts in the County Office of Emergency Services and other jurisdictions in the operational area. The Emergency Services Coordinator meets regularly with the Santa Barbara Operational Area Emergency Services Coordinators group, which includes representatives from all jurisdictions in the Operational Area and the State Office of Emergency Services. The meetings explore and record mutual aid concerns and issues related to cooperative efforts among jurisdictions. The Operational Area Emergency Services Council, which consists of City Managers/Administrators from jurisdictions within the Operational Area, meets bimonthly. The City of Santa Barbara will contribute to Operational Area efforts to expand mutual aid capabilities and coordination between jurisdictions within the Operational Area.
Community Emergency Response Teams(CERT)
Of additional interest to the Grand Jury may be the action taken by City Council on May 7, 1996, authorizing the creation of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT). When disasters befall the City, we have learned that emergency services are often overwhelmed with the severity and/or volume of incidents occurring in the City. Volunteers will provide a way for citizens to learn post-incident skills, that they can use to help neighbors until professional emergency services personnel can respond.
CERT volunteers will assist emergency response in the City by:
. Being better prepared in self sufficiency following a disaster.
. Being able to provide emergency assistance to their families, co-workers, and neighbors.
. Being able to work as a team in their neighborhoods following a disaster.
. Having a better understanding of the issues involved in emergency response and the capabilities and the limitations of professional emergency responders.
The Santa Barbara City Fire Department, Office of Emergency Services, and Police Department will provide this basic self help training to recognized homeowner associations, businesses and/or associations, church groups, City departments, school faculties, or other organized groupings.
The Council of the City of Santa Barbara and its management team are very proud of the City's Disaster Preparedness program and the dedication of City employees in meeting the Challenges of local disasters. We applaud the Grand Jury's interest in disaster preparedness. Once again, I would like to thank the members of the Grand Jury for their efforts regarding this important service in our community.
Elinor G.A. Langer,
Mayor Pro Tempore
cc: Sandra E. Lizarraga, City Administrator