The public’s response to any emergency is based on an understanding of the nature of the emergency, the potential hazards, the likely response of emergency services and knowledge of what individuals and groups should do to increase their chances of survival and recovery. Public awareness and education prior to any emergency or disaster are crucial to the success of the City of Calistoga emergency operations and recovery efforts.
The City of Calistoga’s Office of Emergency Services will make emergency preparedness information from local, state and national sources available to the citizens of the city. The Office of Emergency Services will provide special emphasis on specific hazards on specified months throughout the calendar year, aiding in the disaster preparation and education of the City of Calistoga community.
The Office of Emergency Services hosts an annual Earthquake Preparedness Day during the month of April which is proclaimed as Earthquake Preparedness Month by the Governor of the State of California. Each year the Mayor of Calistoga proclaims April as Earthquake Preparedness Month. The event is held at the Calistoga Community Center located on Washington Street. In the past, the following state and local agencies have been represented: REACH Medical Helicopter, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (State OES), Calistoga Fire Department, Calistoga Police Department, American Red Cross, Piners Ambulance, California Conservation Corp., Earthquake Supply Center, Pacific Gas and Electric, California State Fire Marshal’s Office, Ace Hardware, CAL FIRE, and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES). Informational materials on preparedness are available as well as vendor sales of emergency products.
Public awareness and education prior to any emergency are crucial to successful public information efforts during and after the emergency. The decision to initiate and support this function must be made at the highest policy-making level. The pre-disaster awareness and education programs must be viewed as equal in importance to all other preparation for emergencies and receive and adequate level of planning.
The City of Calistoga’s Disaster Preparedness efforts include working with the community in the beginning stages of developing a plan for providing appropriate public education for disaster response and recovery. This program would provide the training, guidance, organization and structured information for communities to care for themselves for a significant period of time, with very little assistance from local governmental emergency response services. In effect, it would represent a viable solution to citizen preparation and disaster mitigation.
Community Education: To inform and educate the community to prevent, prepare for, and respond to disasters, determine Neighborhood Disaster Coordinators (at this time there are 22), and hold an initial meeting with these representatives to discuss community involvement with disaster preparedness.
Train 90 people (by Calistoga’s certified Trainer) in one year through a 17 ½ hour training program (Community Emergency Response Team - CERT). This training is federally reimbursed.
Prepare residents to be self sufficient for the first 72 hours after an emergency occurs.
Schedule emergency drills/exercises...city wide drills as well as table-tops in individual neighborhoods.
Put monthly articles in local paper regarding Community Disaster Preparedness.
The following list depicts the specific hazards that will be emphasized throughout the calendar year:
Hazard Mitigation Earthquake Preparedness
Hazardous Materials Awareness Landslide Awareness
Flood Preparedness Fire Prevention
Winter Weather Preparedness
Training and Exercising
The objective of any Emergency Management Organization is efficient and timely response during emergencies. A good Emergency Operations Plan is a first step toward that objective; however, planning alone will not guarantee preparedness. Training and exercising is essential at all levels of government to make emergency operations personnel operationally ready.
The City of Calistoga’s Emergency Program Manager informs city departments of training opportunities associated with emergency management. Individual departments are responsible for maintaining training records. City departments who have responsibilities under the plan must ensure their personnel are properly trained to carry out these responsibilities.
The City of Calistoga’s Emergency Services Coordinator is responsible to determine the appropriate level(s) of SEMS (Standardized Emergency Management System) instruction for each member of the City of Calistoga Emergency Organization, including field personnel. The determination shall be based on the individual’s potential assignment during an emergency response. The City of Calistoga’s Office of Emergency Services shall ensure that all emergency response personnel can demonstrate and maintain, to the level deemed appropriate, the minimum SEMS performance objectives as contained in the Approved Course of Instruction (ACI) Syllabus referenced in the SEMS regulations. These SEMS performance objectives will be achieved through the completion of materials from the ACI and the incorporation of the objectives into exercises.
The best method of training emergency responders is through exercising. Exercises allow emergency responders to become familiar with the procedures, facilities and systems which they will actually use in emergency situations. The City of Calistoga’s Office of Emergency Services is responsible for the planning and conducting of emergency exercises for the city. Exercises shall be conducted on a regular basis to maintain readiness. There are several forms of exercises.
1. Tabletop exercises provide a convenient and low-cost method designed to evaluate policy, plans, and procedures and resolve coordination and responsibilities. Such exercises are a good way to see if policies and procedures exist to handle certain issues.
2. Functional exercises are designed to test and evaluate the capability of an individual function such as evacuation, medical, communications, or public information.
3. Full-Scale exercises simulate an actual emergency. They typically involve complete emergency management staff and are designed to evaluate the operational capability of the emergency management system.
The City of Calistoga’s Emergency Services Coordinator documents the exercise through the conduction of a critique, feeding the information obtained from the critique to change and revise the Emergency Operations Plan.
Joe Russo, Emergency Services Coordinator