DISASTER PREPAREDNESS CHIEF
Annemarie Conroy Director of Office of Emergency Services
By Pat Murphy
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Allaying concern she serves as merely a political appointee,
Annemarie Conroy yesterday countered political grasp helped more
quickly streamline the San Francisco Office of Emergency Services
Singular focus on her lack of background in emergency planning
misses the broader picture, Conroy told the Sentinel in an exclusive
Indeed, it was her knowledge of city government, the political
landscape, and Conroy's experience in San Francisco public service
which accelerated OES improvements since she took office 13 months
ago, she added.
Conroy has served on the San Francisco Police Commission, the
San Francisco Fire Commission, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors,
and is well known in city political circles
Conroy suggested the standard for judgment instead should be
comparison of OES readiness today with earlier civil
grand jury critique of the department.
That critique "outlined a number of tremendous failures
in past leadership in the Office of Emergency Services, and we've
really taken that as a roadmap to recovery," explained Conroy.
"You have to remember that I was the fifth director in seven
months when this administration started, so when I picked up the
ball in August of last year there really had been a gap in continuity
in pursuing significant changes.
She first prioritized cutting through bureaucratic red tape for
acquisition of needed OES equipment, Conroy continued.
Notified of that priority, Mayor Newsom called together "every
department in San Francisco that was receiving homeland security
the mayor was very clear that we had to cut the
Needed OES requisitions are now coded to receive immediate fulfillment,
Conroy recalled, adding the code system went into effect one month
after she assumed post responsibility.
San Francisco has received $83 million in Federal funds for local
disaster preparedness but, Conroy noted, few guidelines came with
the money for how it was to be used.
As a result, all local emergency response services developed
the San Francisco plan comprised of 22 components, known as annexes.
When the plan was developed one year ago, target was set for
all annex completion by the end of this year. All but four annexes
are now finalized, Conroy stated.
A recent televised news series criticized incompletion of the
component responsible for return of city emergency personnel who
live outside San Francisco back into the city following disaster.
For her part, Conroy noted Bay Area counties deferred to Marin
County as responsible for Return Annex planning, and did so before
Conroy took the helm.
Conroy subsequently, while yesterday refusing to criticize Martin
County authorities, forged a regional Bay Area response which
incorporates return of emergency personnel, and devised funding
mechanism for other counties to participate.