An updated city Emergency Operations Plan was unanimously approved Monday night by the Piedmont City Council, and further updates, additions, and refinements — some of them already anticipated — are expected in the coming months.
The EOP is the primary guide for all emergency operations within the city, a blueprint for a coordinated response before, during, and after a major incident, including a wildfire or earthquake. It also codifies the city’s role/place in both state and national emergency management systems.
The Piedmont plan was last updated in 2016. A city staff report said a fresh update is crucial for two primary reasons: climate change and the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires, and the COVID-19 pandemic and the various changes it brought, including working remote work.
The city paid approximately $55,000 to Tamarack MGMT a year ago to consult on the EOP updates, covering both Piedmont municipal operations evacuations and evacuation plans affecting all city residents. Tamarack conducted numerous meetings with members of all city departments before creating the draft “base plan” covering responses to incidents ranging from “hazard incident management” to “extraordinary emergency situations,” and for maintaining government operations post-disaster.
City Fire Chief Dave Brannigan told the council Monday the plan concentrates on Piedmont’s actions in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. “We’ll be focusing on fires and collapses, and triaging what can and can’t be done” by Piedmont responders at the outset, Brannigan said. He added that, before long, in response to a regional disaster, the plan would emphasize Piedmont’s role as part of a coordinated regional response, including evaluating whether Piedmont personnel could be released for Mutual Aid service to other jurisdictions.
Beyond the base plan, The EOP includes four “annexes,” providing more specific information about the city’s Emergency Operations Center, evacuations, post-disaster recovery operations and emergency alerts and communications – both among emergency responders and to the general public – during a disaster, especially in its earliest stages. Long-term follow-up is also addressed.
Brannigan told the council it’s important to remember that, at least for a while, most residents and merchants in Piedmont would likely be on their own when disaster strikes, given the limited number of police and fire personnel in Piedmont and beyond.
“There will not be much help coming right away,” Brannigan said. “It’s important for people to understand that.”
Staff is planning another round of disaster training and exercises for spring 2024. Every time the City trains and exercises, a new set of findings that prompt updates and improvements to plans and procedures are produced. Updates to this plan will be recorded and documented by staff in between larger revisions that come to the Council for adoption. Depending on future needs, additional functional or hazard specific annexes may be written and adopted.
Councilwoman Conna McCarthy asked Brannigan for the most important public safety measure residents could take in the event of a disaster. His response — making sure residents and merchants get the information they need after disaster strikes. A good way to do that, he said, is to sign up for AC Alerts, which supplies Alameda County residents with updates on their phones or computers.
The 55-page draft EOP, and related plans and the city council staff report on this subject, can be viewed HERE.
Contact Sam Richards at email@example.com