Mar 1 2015

Disaster Response Training for the City Council

– Council Members heard about their Responsibilities and Roles in Disasters –

Local governments in California are responsible for providing emergency operations and response to protect the health and safety of citizens, and preserve lives, property and the environment from the effects of disasters. On Saturday, February 28 at 10 a.m. the City Council met in the Emergency Operation Center in the Police Department to learn about the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS). SEMS can be activated for small emergencies, but is primarily intended for major disasters. It is mandated by the California Emergency Services Act, Government code 8607.  Read the code.  The emergency management training was presented by Neal T. O’Haire of Howell Consulting.

The City of Piedmont is charged with the responsibility of providing a disaster response and recovery plan that will enable the public and local business to return to normal following a major emergency or disaster.

SEMS components include: Incident Command System, Inter-agency Coordination, and Master mutual aid. SEMS operates at five levels, from the state to the incident. Communication between the levels is by runner and land-line phone, as well as higher technology means if they survive the disaster.

Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS)

SEMS is the system required by Government Code §8607 (a) for managing response to multi-agency and multi-jurisdiction emergencies in California. SEMS provides for a multiple level emergency response organization and is intended to structure and facilitate the flow of emergency information and resources within and between the organizational levels. The SEMS system was created in response to the 1991 Oakland Hills Fire.

“There are five organizational/ response levels in SEMS:

  1. Field Response: The field response level is where emergency response personnel and resources, under the command of an appropriate authority, carry out tactical decisions and activations in direct response to an incident or threat. This is the incident level- where the emergency response begins. SEMS regulations require the use of ICS at this level of an incident.
  2. Local Government Level: Local governments include cities, counties, and special districts. Local governments manage and coordinate the overall emergency response and recovery activities between emergency agencies within their jurisdiction. This is the first coordination level above the Field Response. Local governments are required to use SEMS when their emergency operations center is activated or a local emergency is declared.
  3. Operational Area: The Operational Area manages and/or coordinates information, resources, and priorities among local governments and serves as the link between the local government level and the regional level. At this level, the governing bodies are required in SEMS to reach consensus on how resources will be allocated in a major crisis affecting multiple jurisdictions or agencies. All member jurisdictions and agencies have equal influence in establishing priorities and formulating decisions.
  4. Regional: Because of its size and geography, the state has been divided into six mutual aid regions, all with operating Emergency Operations Centers (EOC’s). The Regions EOC’s prioritize requests and provide support to the Operational Areas in their Regions. This is to provide for more effective application and coordination of mutual aid and other related activities.
  5. State: The state level is located in Sacramento at the Office of Emergency Services (OES) headquarters. OES manages state resources in response to the emergency needs of the other levels. The state also serves as the coordination and communication link between the state and the federal disaster response system.”

The Piedmont mayor shall preside at meetings of the Council, shall be recognized as head of the City government for all ceremonial purposes and by the Governor for the purposes of military law…

The Piedmont City Charter states:

SECTION 2.13 EMERGENCY ORDINANCES To meet a public emergency affecting life, health, property or the public peace, the City Council may adopt one or more emergency ordinances, but such ordinances may not levy taxes; grant, renew or extend a franchise; or authorize the borrowing of money in excess of twenty five percent (25%) of the tax receipts from the previous fiscal year. An emergency ordinance shall be introduced in the form and manner prescribed for ordinances generally, except that it shall be plainly designated as an emergency ordinance and shall contain, after the enacting clause, a declaration stating that an emergency exists and describing it in clear and specific terms. An emergency ordinance may be adopted with or without amendment or rejected at the meeting which it is introduced, but the affirmative vote of at least four (4) Councilmembers shall be required for adoption. After its adoption, the ordinance shall be posted as prescribed for other adopted ordinances. It shall become effective upon adoption or at such later time as it may specify. Every emergency ordinance, except an emergency appropriation, shall automatically stand repealed as of the 61st day following the date on which it was adopted, but this shall not prevent re-enactment of the ordinance in the manner specified in this section if the emergency still exists. An emergency ordinance may also be repealed by adoption of a repealing ordinance in the same manner specified in this section for adoption of emergency ordinances.

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