The City of Petaluma follows standard emergency management protocols in the way it plans for and response to emergencies.
The cornerstone of this system is the City’s Emergency Operations Center, or EOC. The EOC has five sections–management, operations, planning, logistics, and finance–led by management-level staff who are the section “chiefs.” Each section has a specific role and set of responsibilities; not every section is activated in every emergency, but all sections are alerted when the EOC has been activated.
With a few exceptions, all City employees are considered emergency response workers and, by law, must report to their managers if the EOC is activated. Some employees have pre-designated roles within the EOC, such as overseeing shelter operations or procuring equipment. Others will receive their assignments when they report in.
The City conducts an annual EOC training exercise, typically held in October and planned for October 18. In addition, section chiefs and their designated team members participate in regional emergency response exercises and training events throughout the year as appropriate. In 2018, there were a number of changes to the EOC roster, allowing more City employees to be involved in EOC planning and training.
The City coordinates its emergency management program with the County of Sonoma, as well as state and federal agencies. The North Bay wildfires of 2017 provided good examples of how the City and the County rely on each other. The City provided police officers and fire personnel to support County evacuation and fire fighting efforts, while the County provided supplies and personnel to support the shelters that had opened in Petaluma.
Following the 2017 wildfires, the County hosted feedback sessions, trainings, and other events to strengthen its relationship among cities, faith-based groups, the medical community, nonprofits, and businesses who might be involved in a future emergency event. The City participated in these opportunities and even hosted a few of its own, with Petaluma stakeholders.
This brings up the role that the City plays in preparing its residents and businesses for an emergency. Every year, the City’s fire and police personnel participate in an Emergency Preparedness Fair in September. In addition, this year, the City’s fire department is hosting Emergency Preparedness workshops based around the Citizens Organized to Prepare for Emergencies (COPE) model. Click here for more info and to download the COPE packet.
Finally, the City is implementing a campaign to help its employees be more prepared for an emergency. In 2018, it offered hands-only CPR/AED training, held an Emergency Go-Kit Challenge, and conducted an earthquake drill in conjunction with the Great California Shake-Out.