By Collin Breaux
With earthquakes, wildfires and other emergency events in the headlines, the City of San Juan Capistrano is prepared.
The Capistrano Dispatch recently met with city officials to learn about how they’re prepared and hear what tips they recommend for the community. The city follows an emergency management system standard throughout California in which they train annually. In an emergency situation, cities report to the county, the county reports to the region, and the region then reports to the state. This chain of command is to avoid disorganization.
Assistant City Manager Charlie View said they do tabletop exercises in which they look at different kinds of emergencies and try to work through what happens in each scenario.
“You test the computers,” View said. “You test the TV. You test the radios.”
The city has an emergency operations center—EOC in emergency management lingo—at the city hall complex that can be activated if necessary. Besides mentioning the city is aware there are areas considered high fire-hazard severity zones, View was hesitant to speak on the likelihood of an emergency situation happening in San Juan Capistrano.
While wildfires and earthquakes are frequently mentioned when discussing emergencies, View said emergency management involves being prepared for all hazards.
Emergency Services Manager Lynn Mata mentioned numerous preparedness tips for residents, including having a go kit with important papers, making sure pets are secure and having medication on hand.
“You have to have a plan,” Mata said. “Where are you going to take your family?”
Mata further recommended having a meeting place if phone lines go down and utilizing out-of-state contacts if you can.
“Listen to your car radio if the phone is out,” Mata said.
Preparedness information is available on the City of San Juan Capistrano website, including an evacuation route, how to register for the AlertOC notification system and how to sign up as a volunteer for various response teams.
There are volunteers who work with the Community Emergency Response Team, and there is also a Large Animal Response Team that can help rescue and evacuate horses. The city website also has information about the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services.—Collin Breaux