September 8, 2009 By Elaine Rundle
Through a partnership with a philanthropic organization and a private company, the Santa Barbara County (Calif.) Office of Emergency Services (OES) has improved its disaster preparedness and response initiatives, including assuring that officials can communicate with the residents even when power, landline phones, cell phones and the Internet are down.
In 2006, the Santa Barbara Civil Grand Jury released a report that identified gaps in community preparedness, including recommending that the OES needed to be a stand-alone government department. The Orfalea Foundations, a Santa Barbara-based philanthropic organization, took interest in resolving the county's preparedness issues and developed the Aware & Prepare initiative.
Natalie Orfalea had noticed that the foundation was receiving requests related to emergency preparedness programs, according to Barbara Andersen, the Aware & Prepare Initiative consultant for the Orfalea Foundations. Those requests, and Orfalea's desire to help the community, prompted her to approach the county and James Lee Witt Associates. Together they established a partnership to aid the community's disaster preparedness and response capabilities.
Go to Emergency Management's article for more information about Santa Barbara's emergency preparedness partnership.