Grand Jury Response on Disaster Preparedness [letter]

June 13, 1996

Honorable Judge William L. Gordon

Presiding Judge, Santa Barbara County Superior Court

1100 Anacapa Street

Santa Barbara, CA 93121

Honorable Judge Gordon:

This letter is to transmit the City of Santa Maria's formal response to the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury's Interim Final Report dated April 8, 1996. According to Penal Code Section 933, the City has 90 days, or until July 8, 1996, to respond to the Grand Jury Report. This letter is intended to satisfy that reporting requirement.

The Grand Jury requested that the City of Santa Maria respond to the following specific recommendations.

Grand Jury Finding No. 1:

Introduced in 1993, California's Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) is now being integrated into the governmental structure of Santa Barbara County and its cities.

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.

City of Santa Maria Response:

The City of Santa Maria has begun SEMS training in an effort to comply with recent state legislation. Fire personnel have completed Incident Command System (ICS) training, which is the foundation upon which SEMS is based. The major functions under ICS include command (or administration) of the incident, operations, planning, logistics and finance. Currently sworn Police personnel are participating in ICS/SEMS training. Eventually every City employee will receive the appropriate level SEMS training so that all employees will at least be aware of ICS and its major components and how they fit into the City's emergency response structure.

Emergency-related functions have already been incorporated into the job descriptions of personnel who respond to emergencies on a regular basis. All City employees are designated as disaster service workers in the event of a major emergency. By including all employees in the SEMS training, the City hopes to increase employees' awareness of their responsibilities during a disaster.

Grand Jury Finding No. 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.

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.

City of Santa Maria Response:

The City of Santa Maria would concur with the Grand Jury's statement that "emergency planning is essential for the cities in the county." The City of Santa Maria has adopted a Multi-Hazard Function Plan, which outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a major emergency. In the event the City's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) were to be activated, checklists have been prepared for the major functions under ICS (listed above) so that employees assigned to the EOC will know what to do, even if it is not their regular assignment.

The City Manager participates in the County-wide Emergency Services Council. The County's Office of Emergency Services (OES) recently facilitated a table-top training exercise involving the County Administrator and the seven city managers. The objective of the exercise was to identify needs and prioritize resources within the County in response to an emergency with County-wide damage. The City's designated Emergency Services Coordinator meets on a bi-monthly basis with Emergency Services Coordinators from other cities, as well as the representatives of County OES, to discuss and coordinate planning, training, and resource capability.

Emergency personnel stand ready and able to assist members of this community in the event of a disaster. Plans and procedures are in place to assist employees in performing their assigned functions if and when the EOC is activated. The City coordinates planning and training activities with other local jurisdictions to provide a coordinated response throughout the County. Training has begun to ensure compliance with SEMS.

The City of Santa Maria welcomes this opportunity to respond to the Grand Jury and hopes that the information provided demonstrates the high priority that the City places on disaster preparedness. Any further questions regarding the City's disaster preparedness efforts may be directed to Tim S. Ness, City Manager, at 925-0951, extension 200.



Enclosure: City Council Report dated June 4, 1996

c- Santa Barbara County Grand Jury

Santa Maria City Clerk