"As one looks back over the list of recent emergencies --- the Lake Shasta hazardous materials incident, Interstate 5 multiple collisions, East Bay firestorm, Southern California flooding, Landers and Big Bear earthquakes, Humboldt earthquake, Los Angeles civil unrest --- several key issues appear each time . . . Communications remains the most frequently noted deficiency in after-action reports.
"Emergency Management personnel from every level and discipline complain that it is difficult to communicate among and between various jurisdictions and specialties.
"While some mechanisms have long been in place to deal with these problems, many have been slow to recognize the value of these systems. In other cases, public safety and emergency management need to work even more closely together to define solutions to communication problems. Cross-band, cross-discipline and cross-level (local, state, federal) capability must be increased.
"Following closely on track with each of these is the need to better coordinate and integrate the work of each discipline. Whether law enforcement, fire service, emergency medical, public works or utilities, each has its own expertise, capability and in most every case has met each challenge that has come along. Where problems occur is frequently near the "margins" between disciplines. Each needs to work more closely with others. Where this has occurred, response, recovery and preparation have been enhanced.
"OES is working in several areas to remedy this shortfall: the Operational Area Satellite Information System (OASIS) is in the installation phase. This system will result in situation reporting that is more timely and accurate.
"The implementation of Senate Bill 1841 (Petris) will result in a standardized system for emergency management. This will involve components already known to be effective such as ICS (Incident Command System), MACS (Multi-Agency Coordination System), the Mutual Aid systems and the operational area concept.
"Even with successful implementation of these projects, each organization and individual involved in emergency management needs to examine these issues from their own perspective.
"What can be done to ensure the most timely and accurate damage assessment?
"How can we ensure that responders and decision-makers can communicate with all those they need to, when they need to?
"How can we ensure that each entity and individual involved works with others in a manner that is truly coordinated?
"Each of us needs to answer these questions this year."
From an article by Mike Guerin, Assistant Director, OES Emergency Operations and Training in the December Utility Policy Committee publication "Update":
CA State OES began the Bulletins in the early 1950's to assist agencies and radio operators to become more familiar with RACES. They were issued periodically until 1985, at which time they began to be issued weekly over voice and digital radio systems of Amateur Radio and in print. Originally intended for California, increased demand, and a 1988 request by the ARRL for national distribution, led to their eventual worldwide distribution.