"The advent of the all hazards approach to civil defense/emergency management changed the way that governmental organizations viewed their responsibilities toward the community. The evolution of emergency management as a profession, and as a
The 1991 Oakland/Berkeley Firestorm changed the way we "do" emergency management in California. Satellite-based telephone service works in concert with civil-defense-era mutual aid to create a web of supportive relationships among communities during declared disasters. The Incident Command System (ICS) is now the standard for field response, and the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) rules in the Emergency Operations Center at all levels of government. Conversely, the attendant SEMS employee training needs, and the related reallocation of Federal Emergency Management Assistance Funds, has made it difficult for some local programs to maintain former levels of commitment and capability.
The 1994 Northridge Earthquake validated the value of structural engineering and geotechnical studies in mitigating property damage and loss of life. It demonstrated the usefulness of Community Emergency Response Teams in bringing rapid assistance to the most damaged parts of a city. While the application of ICS and SEMS made the disaster response more organized, the recovery aspect of this and ensuing disasters required creating a division of several hundred people within State OES to address inspections, reimbursement claims, appeals, project monitoring, and hazard mitigation grant programs.
The Association of Bay Area Governments has taken a leadership role in providing studies that inform and guide emergency planning. Their work includes the Internet-based seismic shaking maps, color coded to be easily understood by the general public. Funding from the National Science Foundation to study relationships between location and housing losses, resulted in a staggering _prediction_ of 350,000 housing units lost in the Bay Area following a major Hayward fault event.
The redesign of what is currently known as Emergency Management Program Grants (EMPG) (FEMA dollars passed through State OES to address planning, training, exercising, and mitigation) has had mixed results. Although all counties, as the lead agency for Operational Areas, now receive EMPG dollars on a base plus population formula, a number of counties and cities now receive less money than they did under the former approach. This has often had a negative impact on their support of and funding for emergency preparedness."
(Extracts from "Eleven Years of Change.. but is it Progress?" by Frances Edwards Winslow, Ph.D., CEM, Director of Emergency Preparedness for the City of San Jose. The orginal (and much longer) article appeared in the April 2001 NETWORKS publication of State OES Coastal Region.