Disaster Preparedness

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firefightIn the event of a major disaster, you can be sure that the staff of the City of Redwood City is doing all it can to ensure the public safety, and is working hard to restore services and return our community to normal.

But remember, disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home, and your family may be without basic services like water, gas, electricity, and telephones, or access to stores and other services for several hours or days. While public safety personnel will be on the scene after a disaster, they cannot reach everyone right away. fallentree

Therefore, the best way to make your family and your home safe is to be prepared before disaster strikes.

earthqThe Redwood City Fire Department urges everyone to be responsible for their own and their family's safety and emergency preparedness by taking the time now to plan for such a situation. It's recommended that people be self-reliant, that is, able to get along without any outside services or assistance, for three days (click here for an example of a three-day survival kit).

You should also consider joining with some neighbors (or on your own) and participating in one of Redwood City's disaster preparedness training programs:

  • "Are You Ready?" is a one-to-two hour single class that provides the basics of what to do before, during, and after a disaster.
  • Our Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program offers a series of classes (20 hours total) during which you'll learn more in-depth, crucial information about fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, disaster medical operations, and more.

The following links offer additional information for being well-prepared:

The west coast is subject to earthquakes, including deep sea earthquakes that could cause a tidal wave. While a tidal wave's impact on the bay side of the peninsula is uncertain, it’s a good idea to keep it in mind when assessing your home’s disaster preparedness. The Red Cross offers information on tsunamis and ideas for preparation [PDF].

By planning ahead with family members and neighbors, you’ll be best able to stay safe and sound during a large-scale emergency.

~ Redwood CIty's Emergency Services Organization ~

Summary of the Emergency Plan presentation made to the City Council on November 22, 2004

The various Redwood City departments have specified roles and functions to assume when a large-scale emergency or area-wide disaster strikes. These roles are well-defined in order to maintain a steady and secure response and recovery. It’s important that these emergency functions are established so that City staff understands what to do in the event such a situation occurs, and can in turn assure the community that the situation is being addressed and all steps are being taken to maximize the public’s safety and well-being.

The City’s Emergency Services Plan outlines the defined organizational structure and chain of command for emergency operations procedures, and the functional responsibilities of the City’s departments during such an emergency. In one way or another, every employee of Redwood City is a participant in Redwood City’s Emergency Operations Plan:

  • The Fire Department, Police Department, and Public Works Services Department are responsible for Direct Intervention in the event of a large-scale emergency – during a disaster they are on the “front lines” to maintain public safety and provide infrastructure repair
  • The remaining departments offer Support Functions as described below
  • Emergency Operations Center (EOC) “Sections” are operated by City Staff
  • All Redwood City employees are registered as Disaster Service Workers and can be called into service as need dictates

Each City department has an EOC representative, in keeping with California’s Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS). During a large-scale emergency, a department generally oversees functions that are similar to its usual work functions, so there is little requirement for staff to take on new, unknown roles during crisis situations.

City departments each have specific functional responsibilities in the event of a large-scale emergency:

  • Fire Department :
    • Fire prevention and suppression, medical response, and property protection
  • Police Department :
    • Public safety/crime prevention, traffic control, and evacuation; the EOC is housed at the police department
  • Public Works Services :
    • Maintains infrastructure support and ensures reinstatement of services
  • Parks Department :
    • Administers and coordinates care and shelter operations; oversees logistics
  • Community Development Services :
    • Responsible for coordination of planning and information gathering
  • City Attorney :
    • Legal oversight regarding such items as emergency proclamations that the City Council may need to issue
  • Finance :
    • Accounting for and tracking costs, time resources used, and claims
  • City Clerk :
    • Generates emergency notices; record keeping
  • Human Resources :
    • Public information, personnel issues
  • Library :
    • Documentation unit leader for all paperwork generated by the EOC

There are three levels of EOC activation that are driven by the magnitude of the emergency situation:

  •  Level 1 – A minor-to-moderate incident which local resources are able to manage
    Example : A multiple-alarm fire or hazardous materials incident Council : No action is required; information will be provided to Council members as the situation progresses
    EOC Status : Not activated
  •  Level 2 – A moderate-to-severe incident requiring mutual aid
    Example : A severe wind or rain storm which increases to the point where it causes property damage or displacement of people
    Council : Contact City Manager for information and determine if Council’s response is needed at this time
    EOC Status : The EOC is activated and staffed as needed ( San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services [OES] is notified of activation)
  •  Level 3 – A major disaster involving area-wide depletion of resources and mutual aid response
    Example : Major earthquake with widespread damage and potential for loss of life
    Council : May be requested to report to EOC; can also help keep community informed and aware of the situation and their options as events unfold
    EOC Status : The EOC is fully activated and staffed

Coordination with San Mateo County OES

An emergency requiring area-wide coordination will involve the San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services. Together with the cities, the OES works on pre-activation planning, EOC plans, mutual-aid resource planning, maintaining regional awareness/situation status; and critical resource allocation.

Role of the Mayor and City Council

The primary role of the Mayor and City Council is the continuance of our local government. Other responsibilities include decision making and maintaining contact with and involving the community in the dissemination of information. The Mayor and Council maintain an awareness of an ongoing situation by staying in contact with the City Manager. The Council may also need to issue emergency orders as needed and may generate a Proclamation to the Governor requesting disaster declarations.