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San Francisco Office of Emergency Services and Homeland Security:

Major Activities and Accomplishments

From the Office of Emergency Services

May 18, 2006


Created a new Emergency Operations Plan for the first time in a decade. The EOP Part 1 serves as the foundation for emergency response in San Francisco. For the first time since 1996, this document was updated - and it took less than a year to do it. The new plan lays out how to respond to all hazards in or affecting the CCSF, including earthquakes.

In addition, OES/HS has drafted Part 2 of the Emergency Operations Plan - a document that never existed before. EOP Part 2 is the nuts-and-bolts guide to the functioning of the Emergency Operations Center, which will become partially or fully active in any large-scale emergency. It outlines roles and responsibilities of the various branches of the EOC, including planning and intelligence, operations and logistics.

Created new annexes to the Emergency Operation Plan which never existed before. Over the past 18 months, OES/HS has developed and written new annexes that address specific types of emergencies and specific emergency functions that will need to be carried out. The topics of these annexes include, among others, Care and Shelter, Terrorism, Severe Weather, Tsunami, Animal Care and Shelter, Operation Return, and Communications.

Led the Application Process for 2006 Bay Area UASI funding. After the federal Department of Homeland Security announced that for the 2006 grant year the three previously separate Urban Areas of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose (and the 10 Bay Area counties) were being consolidated into one Bay Area Super UASI, OES/HS acted quickly to use its leadership position to bring all parties to the table. Working with the state Office of Homeland Security and the federal Department of Homeland Security, OES/HS developed a governance structure for the new group, and served as its chair. This effort required over 40 meetings during a one-month period between January-February 2006, with participation from 208 representatives from 134 different federal, state, regional, local and non-governmental agencies. The Bay Area Super UASI submitted a $332.2 million grant application in February.

Leading the development of a new Regional Emergency Coordination Plan. San Francisco recognized the need to plan for a catastrophic event on a regional basis. The RECP, which includes the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, the10 Bay Area Counties, and the cities of Oakland, San Jose, and San Francisco, represents the first time this region has come together to engage in a comprehensive emergency planning process. While the RECP had been in the planning stages for months prior to Hurricane Katrina, it has become even more significant with the increased national focus on the need for a regional approach to emergency preparedness.

Highlights of the RECP include:

· Inventory of resource assets - federal, state, and local - and mechanisms for deployment

· Coordination of transportation and emergency medical resources

· Coordination of fire, hazardous materials, and search and rescue resources

· Regional planning for care and shelter services

· 90 Day Recovery Plan

Created a New Care and Shelter Plan and Database. For the first time, the City's new Care and Shelter Plan addresses how to accommodate up to 40,000 people who may become displaced by a disaster. As a key part of this process, we created an online database of possible shelter sites in all SF neighborhoods. We're conducting a comprehensive survey of sites such as schools, recreation centers, congregations, neighborhood centers and convention or large meeting facilities.

The information contained in the searchable database includes floor plans and accessibility for the disabled. This important planning tool will help to identify how and where we can provide shelter to San Franciscans in advance of a disaster.

Created the City's First Community Disaster Plan. OES/HS has begun a pilot program to help San Francisco communities develop their own disaster plans. Beginning in Supervisorial District 5, and in conjunction with the Office of Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services and SF 5 Together, the program is designed to empower communities to work with city agencies to develop emergency response plans that are tailored to their unique needs. The Community Disaster Plan suggests forming an Emergency Preparedness Committee to coordinate neighborhood disaster preparedness efforts. Other key elements include identifying resources such as recreation centers, congregations, and neighborhood associations that can help support implementation of the plan, and outlining how residents can work together to improve their capacity to shelter safely in place for at least 72 hours post-disaster. This project will be applicable to entire districts, neighborhoods, or residential communities such as condominium and apartment complexes. The pilot program is expected to expand to other districts later this year.

Complied with requirements of Federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000). DMA 2000 requires that cities, counties, and special districts have a Local Hazard Mitigation Plan to be eligible to receive FEMA pre-disaster or post-disaster hazard mitigation funds. OES/HS developed a comprehensive mitigation annex for San Francisco with over 300 strategies as part of the Multi-jurisdictional Local Hazard Mitigation Plan sponsored by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). The San Francisco annex to the plan was approved by resolution of the Board of Supervisors and signed by the Mayor, then submitted to the Governor's Office of Emergency Services and FEMA for approval. Following FEMA approval of the plan in March 2005, San Francisco applied for and received funding for two pre-disaster mitigation projects in FY 2005.

Established San Francisco as a StormReady Community. OES/HS applied for and received recognition from the National Weather Service as a StormReady community. San Francisco was one of the first major cities in the nation to receive this designation. The program is designed to help communities better prepare for and mitigate effects of extreme weather-related events, focusing on the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property. It provides a close partnership with, and direct assistance from, the National Weather Service before and during an event. The National Weather Service follows a strict process of evaluating a community for this designation, including enhanced communication and notification systems, community training as "storm spotters," and training for emergency communications dispatchers. In addition, the National Weather Service has approved our new Severe Weather annex. Becoming a StormReady Community is also a required process for becoming a TsunamiReady community, which OES/HS is currently working on and will be the first major city with that designation.


Conducted and funded regular exercises and training. Over the past 2 years, exercises and training have increased substantially. OES/HS conducts monthly exercises at our Emergency Operations Center and larger-scale exercises on a regular basis. A tabletop exercise based on the London and Madrid transit bombings was attended by 120 emergency personnel from the region including the Mayor, key department heads, FBI, federal and state Homeland Security personnel, and the National Guard. OES/HS also held a field exercise based on the transit bombing scenario last October and participated in the statewide Golden Guardian exercise last November. Other exercise scenarios include an anthrax outbreak, catastrophic earthquake, a terror attack on a ferry (which was held at the Port of San Francisco) and a gas main leak with explosion resulting in evacuations and mass casualties. OES/HS has also provided funding for extensive training, including: terrorism awareness training for 4,000 public safety personnel; structural collapse training for Fire Department personnel; incident command training for public safety and health command staff; and CBRNE-related training for Police Department personnel.

Developed the Disaster Service Worker Training Program and Identification System. Under state and local law, all 26,000 City employees are disaster service workers - meaning they can be called upon to assist in any way during a major disaster. Last year, in conjunction with the Department of Human Resources, OES/HS began to develop a training program and new Disaster Service Worker identification system for all city workers - both of which had never existed before. Over the last six months, more than 400 City employees have received this training. In addition, DHR and OES/HS are developing a "skills-tracking" computer program - which will identify language skills, medical skills, and special training - to help strategically and effectively deploy employees during an emergency event. We expect to expand the program to train hundreds of employees over the coming year (pending funding and personnel).

Investing in critical equipment and security upgrades. Major improvements have been made to the City's emergency radio communications system. Funding has been provided for protective equipment for first responders for CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosive) types of events. And we've invested in security improvements for critical infrastructure.


Created an innovative and interactive new website - www.72hours.org.

72hours.org helps San Franciscans plan for emergencies such as earthquake, fire, severe storms, power outages, and acts of terrorism. The website is available in English, Spanish and Chinese. We've launched public education campaigns using bus and shelter ads and street banners to encourage people to visit the website and get prepared. We've designed new multilingual brochures with the same content as the website.

The city of Chicago has emulated the website and other cities and jurisdictions, including Sonoma, Boston, Annapolis, and San Diego, have contacted OES/HS with an interest in adopting 72hours.org.

Since last September, 72hours.org has had more than 302,000 visitors. In the month of April alone, there were over 40,000 visitors, doubling the number from the previous month. And the site has recently won a Webby Award, the leading international honor for internet sites.

Developed a Community Outreach Program and Ad Campaign. OES/HS regularly presents preparedness information at venues including street fairs, town halls and community meetings. Each year during Fleet Week, we hold an earthquake preparedness fair at Marina Green that attracts thousands of people.

In the fall of 2005, OES/HS launched a unique ad campaign that encouraged San Franciscans to think about what items they need in order to be prepared for an emergency. The theme of the ads, which appeared on MUNI buses and bus shelters, was "Nice to Have"/"Need to Have," juxtaposing items such as water and wine; sushi and a can of tuna; a battery-operated toy monkey and a flashlight with batteries.

The latest ad campaign, launched in mid-April, centers around the centennial of the 1906 earthquake. The campaign consists of five designs in English, Chinese and Spanish and reminds citizens that in a major disaster, it might be three days before vital services are restored. The ads appear on 134 MUNI buses, 30 bus shelters and on 2,000 bus interior placards and will run through June.

Coordinated Educational Component of 1906 Earthquake and Fire Centennial Activities. Under the auspices of SF Rising, a diverse group of City departments, public and private groups and emergency management experts came together to ensure that personal preparedness was highlighted in the Centennial activities. OES/HS distributed educational materials at Lotta's Fountain and at the Fire Department parade. OES/HS supported the San Francisco Fire Department Historical Society's 1906 Expo by coordinating the educational component, soliciting the participation of a variety of emergency preparedness experts from around the Bay Area. OES/HS provided an interactive booth, highlighting the 72hours.org web site, and offering materials and subject matter expertise to visitors.

Through the SF Rising committee, OES/HS worked with the San Francisco Chronicle, which distributed 100,000 72hours.org preparedness brochures to all subscribers in the Sunday newspaper. Additionally, OES/HS participated in multiple Centennial events across the City, distributing over 20,000 preparedness brochures and 6,000 emergency whistles.

Collaborated with USGS to Produce "Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country," a Comprehensive Guide to Citizen Preparedness. Beginning in the summer of 2005, a team of subject matter experts brought together by the US Geological Survey undertook a project to develop a single, comprehensive guide to earthquake risk and preparedness in the Bay Area. OES/HS joined experts from the American Red Cross, the Association of Bay Area Governments, the Earthquake Engineering Institute, the California Geological Survey, the California Earthquake Authority and the US Department of Homeland Security in the development of this handbook. In addition to distribution by the San Francisco Chronicle, OES/HS along with our partners have distributed thousands of brochures since its 2005 release.

Creating New Notification System for Emergency Personnel and Public (Roam Secure Alert Network) - to be implemented in 2006. In order to provide up-to-the minute information and instructions to emergency personnel and the public in an emergency situation, OES/HS will be implementing the Roam Secure program. This text-based emergency notification system can be a valuable tool in recalling first responders and in providing vital information to the public. This program also includes capabilities for reaching the disabled community. Text messaging has proven to be a reliable means of communication, especially when other systems are down, as was the case after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. OES/HS is adapting a best practice in the National Capital Region, where 48,000 residents have signed up to receive alerts.

Conducting Outreach and Training for Housing Authority Residents and Building Managers. Noting lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina, OES/HS launched a program to provide personal preparedness information to vulnerable San Francisco residents dependent on housing assistance, particularly seniors and the disabled. The program focuses on personal contact with Housing Authority residents through presentations and multi-lingual preparedness information based on 72hours.org. Other cities have expressed interest in adopting this initiative.


Created the City's Departmental Operations Center Program. OES/HS has assisted the various City departments that have a role in disaster response in establishing Departmental Operations Centers. The DOCs serve as the department's response headquarters during a major emergency. This effort is aimed at ensuring the consistency of equipment and operational functions.

Engaged in substantial outreach to non-first responder and smaller City offices and departments on disaster planning issues. These departments include the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services, the Mayor's Office of Disability, Medical Examiner, Animal Care and Control, Purchasing Division of the Office of Contract Administration, Controller's Office, Department of Telecommunications and Information Services, Small Business Commission, and Administrative Services. While these departments may not be traditional "first-responders," OES/HS has recognized the importance of including their input and expertise into the City's emergency planning process.

Created excellent working relationships with our state and federal partners in response. By engaging in significant outreach, OES/HS has built close working relationships with agencies such as the state Office of Emergency Services, the state Office of Homeland Security, the Federal Department of Homeland Security, FEMA Region IX, US Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. In the post-Katrina world, it is clearer than ever that these relationships are extremely important. In a major emergency, it will be valuable to have already established lines of communication and working relationships between the local, state and federal levels.

Working with Hospitals for Emergency Response. OES/HS, in collaboration with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, works closely with all CCSF hospitals in coordinating response and preparedness activities. Through the use of UASI funds, standardized equipment has been purchased, including a patient tracking system for all hospitals and the emergency communications dispatch center. Hospitals are closely involved with exercise development and execution, ensuring that the goals and objectives of the healthcare community are addressed in these efforts. OES/HS attends the monthly Hospital Council Emergency Preparedness Task Force, a network of health care providers and stakeholders from throughout public and private entities in San Francisco.

Partnered with Walgreens to Promote 72hours.org and Disaster Preparedness. As part of the events commemorating the 1906 earthquake and fire, OES/HS has partnered with Walgreens drugstore on a major initiative to promote personal preparedness and encourage San Franciscans to log on to 72hours.org. Walgreens is prominently placing a 72hours.org display in its 180 Bay Area stores, which will include a checklist and items to put in a disaster supply kit. In addition, in its April 16 advertising circular in the San Francisco Chronicle, Walgreens placed a special ad featuring 72hours.org.

Reaching out to private sector associations and non-profit organizations to engage in emergency preparedness issues. OES/HS has regular contact with groups such as the Hospital Council, Hotel Council, Building Owners and Managers Association, Salvation Army, Red Cross, the Volunteer Center, Community Agencies Responding to Disaster (CARD), San Francisco Foundation, San Francisco Interfaith Council, SF Ready and many more.


Implemented the majority of the recommendations made by the Civil Grand Jury in a 2003 report entitled "It's A Catastrophe: The State of Emergency Planning in San Francisco." In 2005, the Civil Grand Jury again evaluated OES/HS and issued a continuity report that said, "The CGJ is pleased to conclude that, based on the observed changes within OES, the state of emergency planning and preparedness in San Francisco is no longer a 'catastrophe.' The OES is doing an admirable job, given its current federal resources and the limited amount of space at the current location." OES/HS used the 2003 report as a roadmap to completely revamp the operation of a once-neglected office. The Civil Grand Jury noted these efforts by saying, "Substantial improvements have been made at the Office of Emergency Services (OES)."

Convened Disaster Council and Disaster Forum on a regular basis. OES/HS has delivered regular updates on disaster preparedness efforts to policymakers, elected officials, and the public through televised Disaster Council meetings. In addition, we have held monthly Disaster Forums, at which city department representatives discuss disaster planning and participate in a tabletop exercise. Since August 2004, there have been 6 Disaster Councils and 20 Disaster Forum meetings.

Attracted Top Emergency Management Staff. For the first time in the history of the Office of Emergency Services, the major emergency departments are all under one roof - Police, Fire, Public Health, Sheriff and Transit. In the past year and a half, OES/HS has attracted top people from numerous disciplines including hazardous materials and explosives, heavy rescue, emergency medical services, care and shelter, tactical operations, and disaster response. This group of trained experts comes from organizations as varied as the American Red Cross and the U.S. military.




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