The Orange County, Oxnard Ventura and Los Angeles Posts held their first regional Readiness Workshop at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, Calif., in May. With the focus of increasing rapid response and recovery in a local or national natural disaster or terrorist attack, the program presented a wide range of thought provoking topics that included response resource coordination, the importance of infrastructure resiliency, and ways of finding partnerships and contracting mechanisms. Presentations from the workshop may be downloaded from www.sameoc.org/filedownloads.html.
William “Bill” Anderson, Director of The Infrastructure Security Partnership (TISP), posed the question: “Is Resilient Infrastructure the same as Critical Infrastructure Protection?” His presentation focused on ways of creating resilient businesses, agencies and communities before a disaster to save lives, time and money. He stressed that success in shortening the duration of the long-term disaster recovery phase for enterprises and communities is dictated by the extent to which they are prepared to immediately enact recovery response efforts. He proposed a web portal be developed to connect and interface available public response recovery resources and private sector response recovery operations through existing databases throughout the nation. Anderson stressed the importance of developing an SAME database network at the local or regional Post level to heighten community and regional the capabilities and resources to respond quickly in a disaster, particularly around our homeland defense and critical infrastructure facilities.
The event drew speakers from several local agencies. Nancy King, Ph.D., from the U.S. Geological Survey Pasadena Field Office at Cal Tech, gave an in-depth presentation on earthquake and tsunami preparedness, with the admonition: "We live in earthquake country! It’s up to each of us to prepare." She shared historical evidence and discussed USGS products such as CISN Display (a real time earthquake alert and notification system) and ShakeCast (a situational awareness tool for emergency responders and critical facility operators).
Regina Canale-Miles described the Joint Regional Intelligence Center (JRIC), which is part of the California State Threat Assessment System (STAS), a six-center fusion center network. Their area of responsibility includes the seven counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, the same territory covered by the FBI Los Angeles Field office, and the Department of Justice Central District of California. The JRIC plays an invaluable role in the region’s intelligence mission, balancing the need for information gathering and intelligence production against the protection of civil rights and civil liberties. As emerging threats were identified in 2011 or notable events unfolded, the JRIC Situational Awareness Watch produced real-time alert notifications and other products–460 in all–to keep partners up-to-date. The Tips and Leads branch received 2,714 suspicious activity reports, a 15 percent increase over 2010. In support of the co-located FBI threat squad, Tips & Leads prioritized, researched and entered appropriate leads into the e-Guardian threat tracking system for assessment by the FBI threat squad. Several cases were opened as a result of this work.
Alex Watts from USACE Los Angeles gave an overview of emergency support functions, including infrastructure protection and emergency repair, infrastructure restoration, engineering services and construction management, emergency contracting support for life-saving and life-sustaining services, infrastructure protection and emergency repair and restoration. He cited examples from the Katrina and Joplin, Mo., disasters. His unit's focus is to provide a tactical operations and communications platform in forward areas to support rapid ramp-up of initial emergency response missions. During emergency situations, getting contracts in place to assist in the recovery is time critical. Normal contracting procedures will not work. USACE utilizes existing Performance Oriented Construction Activities (POCA) contracts at the local level, and Headquarters utilizes the Advance Contracts Initiatives (multi-year contracts) giving preference to local firms, where possible. In addition to his presentation, Watts brought their Mobile Emergency Command Post for participants to tour.
USACE Emergency Mobile Command Post
Other presenters included representatives from Los Angeles Federal Executive Board, FBI Infragard, and Los Angeles Police Department’s Antiterrorist Archangels.
Many of the more than 50 SAME members and non-members who attended the workshop remained after its conclusion for thought-provoking discussions and networking. In addition to receiving Professional Development Hours, participants came away inspired to continue collaboration and cross-training with a more resilient approach to responding to and mitigating hazardous events. Post leadership will strive to make this venue for building understanding and cooperation an annual event.