In regular times, County services are often invisible to the majority of the public. That is even more the case in an emergency. During this COVID-19 crisis, I want to highlight the amazing work being done by Yolo County's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and assure you that your local government is working hard to protect your health and safety. Bottom line--we are well served by our EOC and the efforts of Yolo County's team are multiplied by the culture of collaboration with our city partners.
A critical component of our county's emergency management strategy is the Office of Emergency Services (OES), led by Dana Carey, who coordinates the Emergency Management System for Yolo County. Another important element of our emergency response operations is the Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). When an emergency occurs, the Director of Emergency Services can activate all or some of the elements of the EOP and determine whether the EOC will be activated and to what level. Currently, the Yolo County EOP and EOC have been activated to support emergency operations as we withstand the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope this message will give you a glimpse into the roles of the EOP and EOC, how an EOC operates, and the nature of the EOC's current efforts.
Our Emergency Operation Plan (EOP) Prepares Us For Situations Like COVID-19
The Yolo County Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) is based on state and federal guidance and establishes the County's planned response to extraordinary emergency situations affecting Yolo County. The EOP provides a framework for how to respond to an emergency from the onset, through an extended response, and into the recovery process. Yolo County's emergency management functions are unique in the degree of collaboration between the county agencies and our city partners. Each city maintains their own EOP and they each have their own EOCs. In the case of Yolo County, all of our city and county EOPs are structured with the same elements and complementary roles. The agencies jointly participate in annual training and simulations of disaster situations. That enables the people assigned to key lead roles to easily coordinate their activities with their counterparts in other agencies. This degree of interoperability is not common we are well served by this culture of collaboration.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Functions
An Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is a designated location where decision-makers from various departments come together to establish a centralized coordination of efforts to ensure an effective emergency response. They work to establish priorities for the community, allocate resources, analyze and share information, make policy decisions, and communicate critical information to the public. There are four major sets of functions outlined in the EOP for the EOC to operate--Finance, Logistics, Operations, and Planning. (While this spells out the acronym "FLOP," we certainly intend for it not to do so!)
EOCs Are Activated When Emergencies Arise
The EOP addresses a wide array of possible emergencies, including fires, floods, earthquakes, and public health emergencies. When an emergency arises, resources are often needed that are outside of specific disciplines. Also, resource needs may exceed the capability of just one jurisdiction. Sometimes, as we are experiencing with COVID-19, the event can take place over an extended period of time and have long-lasting, far-reaching impacts. For these reasons, an EOC is useful in that it allows for the gathering of information from various sources to create a more comprehensive picture of the situation. The EOC can look at what has happened, what is happening right now, and what could happen in the future. It can evaluate the extent of the situation, how it might change in the foreseeable future, and make informed decisions about what support efforts will have the most effective impact on the community.
EOC Is Staffed Only When Needed
In regular times, there are only a few staff assigned to the Office of Emergency Services. When the EOC is activated, staff from a variety of agencies step into their superhero EOC roles. At the Yolo County EOC, County Administrator Patrick Blacklock is the Emergency Services Director, while Mindi Nunes, the Assistant County Administrator, is overseeing the day-to-day operations of the EOC. The emergency services staff are pulled from departments throughout the County based on their knowledge and familiarity with systems throughout the jurisdiction and are assigned specific functions to support the emergency management operations. For example, the Yolo County Director of Child Support Services has been redeployed to the EOC to lead the Planning Section and work on long-term strategy and intelligence. Similarly, Leslie Lindbo, the Assistant Director of Community Services, is one of the three Operations Section Leaders. Because of personnel shifts like these, many of the County's regular activities are paused or drastically slowed during the state of emergency. Every project must meet the mission critical needs of the EOC. Decisions must be made rapidly and implemented swiftly.
Yolo County EOC Serves as the Overall Operational Area EOC (OA-EOC)
There are several jurisdictions within the boundaries of Yolo County that have their own EOCs, including the cities, UC Davis, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, and Yolo Housing Authority, but the Yolo County EOC serves as the EOC for the entire Operational Area (OA). The OA includes everything within the geographic boundaries of the County. When multiple jurisdictions need to collaborate at a policy coordination level, the interagency interaction is done at the Operational Area EOC (OA-EOC).
Current State of EOC
During this COVID-19 crisis, the Yolo County EOC has activated all functions (Management, Finance, Logistics, Operations, and Planning/Intelligence) and some sub-functions (Advanced Planning, Personnel, Cost Accounting, Purchasing, and Recovery). The Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency has also activated a Department Operations Center (DOC), which is working in collaboration with the EOC. Yolo County emergency operations staff are in regular communication with the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). This unique level of collaboration among our jurisdictions has enabled us to easily coordinate enforcement of the current Public Health Order by the Sheriff and the four city police departments. It has also enabled a high degree of coordinated effort in identifying high-needs homeless individuals for placement in hotels and provisions of services. The city personnel have identified the people and placements needed, the County has contracted and is paying for hotel rooms and jointly supporting social services. So far, we have about 70 people placed in this fashion and more to come.
The Yolo County and city EOC team members have trained for this work and are incredible at what they do. I am proud of our staff and the innovation and flexibility they are demonstrating, the professionalism with which they are performing, and their dedication to our community.
In Shared Service,