The first development of the statewide mutual aid program occurred during this period ('43-'45). Cities, counties, and the State joined together in a Master Mutual Aid Agreement which provides for mutual aid between and among cities, counties, and state agencies. The same system has been used to access federal response resources.
Mutual aid is provided, first at the local level. If a city requires assistance, it requests support from neighboring cities or from the county (Operational Area); if not able to assist, the request is presented to the OES regional office. If the regional office cannot meet all requests from its counties (Operational Areas), the requests are presented to the State Office of Emergency Services.
The Mutual Aid System evolved from a program initiated by then Attorney General Earl Warren early in 1938 among law enforcement agencies throughout California. It was designed to coordinate law enforcement action during local emergencies and to unite law enforcement services in the event of a national emergency. Under the War Powers Act, a coordinated program of mutual aid between cities and counties had been established. Under that program 10 Regional Civilian Protection Officers would have directed protective services through city, county, region, and state control centers in the event of enemy attack.
The War Council was reorganized in 1944. The membership then consisted of the Governor; the Lieutenant Governor; the director of the California State War Council; the Attorney General; two representatives of city governments; two representatives of county governments; and two members of the Senate and the Assembly. The Governor was the Ex officio chairman and the Lieutenant Governor was Ex officio vice chairman of the War Council.
The Office of the Director of the California State War Council was created in the Governor's Office, and provisions were made for the assignment of certain activities to regular state agencies. By 1945, 241 local war council organizations had been established in California counties and cities to carry out this program under the direction of local authority.
Late in World War II, after the collapse of Germany and when victory over Japan appeared imminent, Governor Warren requested a survey of the wartime program, in the hopes of taking the benefits of the states wartime experiences and establishing a peacetime organization to combat local or state emergencies.
In 1956, to emphasize importance of the natural disaster aspects of the state's disaster preparedness programs, the Legislature amended the California Disaster Act to authorize the Governor to proclaim a "state of disaster," as well as a "state of extreme emergency". The Act also changed the name of the Office of Civil Defense to "California Disaster Office" to act as the coordinator of all state disaster activities, and that every state agency and officer should cooperate with the office's director in rendering all possible assistance."
Continues next week.