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    The room where decisions are made: coordinating efforts in emergency response

    The room where decisions are made: coordinating efforts in emergency response

    Photo By Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Carzis | Pictured left to right: Megan Walton (far left) and Toni Curtis (far right) from the...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Brianne Roudebush 

    California National Guard

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., – As the situation at the Oroville Dam spillway continues to change, ranking officials from CalOES, the Department of Water Resources, the American Red Cross, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the California Highway Patrol, the California National Guard and numerous other agencies come together to coordinate efforts and resources.

    They gather at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services State Operation Center – a cavernous, two-story amphitheater-style room surrounded by windowed conference areas. Standing at the center, looking up at the enormous screens depicting current operations and surrounded by rows of computer-clad desks, it feels like a fish bowl.

    This is where decisions are made.

    “The most optimal situation is having decision-makers all together so there’s no confusion or miscommunication,” Kelly Huston, the deputy director for CalOES, said. “That’s what this facility is – literally a single place where the governor’s cabinet, emergency management leaders, and representatives from state agencies can come together and meet face-to-face during an unfolding disaster. We couldn’t provide a coordinated effort for these massive emergencies if we didn’t have people physically together in the same room.”

    Lt. Col. Daniel Markert, assigned to the SOC during the emergency response, said if everyone were trying to coordinate from separate offices it would be “like the game ‘telephone’ where I said one thing but you heard something else. Being in the same room helps remove some of the friction that happens in communications.”

    Everyone in the SOC has a role to play. As for the Cal Guard, the liaison officers provide subject matter expertise on capabilities and expectation management.

    “I think the benefit of providing a visible face to our state partners at the SOC is invaluable,” Lt. Col. Michael Martin, assigned to the SOC, said. “They might have a preconceived notion of what our abilities are, but our modern National Guard is extremely innovative and we have all kinds of really neat tools and assets that they might not be thinking about, so to be able to have that conversation greatly improves our ability to protect our communities.”

    The liaison officers know what assets are available, how long it will take to get those assets in place and what the capabilities and limitations are. They are also able to translate between civilian and military terminology so that everyone can be on the same page.

    “The California National Guard has been a tremendous partner for us,” Huston said. “They provide resources far more than the public knows because often they are behind the scenes working on things that aren’t in the news: logistics, moving equipment, providing the tools the military has to help us be as efficient as possible in our public safety objectives.”



    Date Taken: 02.15.2017
    Date Posted: 02.16.2017 00:12
    Story ID: 223719
    Location: SACRAMENTO, CA, US 

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