Draft #2: After Action Report
Heat Wave 2006
Agency Point of Contact:
1.1 Scope of the Report
This After Action Report (AAR) has been
prepared using information provided by event records and input by individuals from
participating local agencies. The
As temperatures continued near or above record highs, electrical load demand statewide was projected to be 15% higher than ever on July 24, 2006. In addition to system-wide demands, capacity and heat related issues with local equipment was also being troublesome. One result of these issues was actual or anticipated loss of power during the heat wave which would have resulted in a loss of electricity for air conditioning use.
There was also the potential for areas
which generally do not have or need air conditioning to become uncomfortably
hot, and face possible threats to public health. As a result of an initial inquiry from
PG&E and follow up discussion with
While the overall response went well there were some issues which could ensure a more effective coordination and response effort in the future. It needs to be pointed out that the American Red Cross - and other involved agencies - did a commendable job of very quickly opening a cooling center and serving the needs of the public.
On July 24, 2006 at approximately 7:50 AM
Tom Jones of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) contacted Ron Alsop of
San Luis Obispo County OES. Mr. Jones
informed Mr. Alsop that statewide electrical load was expected to be 15% higher
than ever, which would be the equivalent of 3.5 million people moving into
Mr. Jones went on to note 700
transformers have been lost system wide. Locally hard hit areas include the Templeton/Paso
Robles area; actually, essentially all areas north of
Mr. Jones inquired if we would consider opening a cooling center, perhaps the Paso Robles Inn ballroom or the Paso Robles city library.
Using their standard procedures for
shelter opening for any time of emergency need, the ARC arranged for the
2. Response Activities
2.1 Cooling Center – Planning for Activation
Upon making contact with the ARC they stated they would find a location.
Not surprising (due to their past
experience and standing readiness for such situations) the ARC found the noted suitable
In the meantime, County OES - working with PH – coordinated other logistical needs including lining up potential alternate transportation options for those who may need a cooling center but did not have the resources to get there on their own.
The American Red Cross did a commendable
job of actually activating, staffing, and operating the shelter.
Individuals needing transportation were
to be directed to contacting Paso Robles Dial-A-Ride; Dial-A-Ride would contact
2.2 Cooling Center Actual Use
Paso Robles Emergency Services (Taylor) noted
that city call takers (emergency and non-emergency call takers) would be
provide a copy of the news release produced by
The center was used by three people, all of whom arrived near the end of the day, following power outages in the East side of Paso Robles, resulting in the center actually staying open to serve them, until 7:20 PM.
2.3 Residential Hotel Health Check
In addition to issues related to a
cooling center, other coordination activities related to excess heat occurred,
including a request - actually the request was issued as an order by the State
Department of Health Services - to check on the occupants of residential
3. Recovery Activities
Due to the relatively limited resources
necessary to respond to this event, recovery activities were not a notable part
of this event for public agencies.
4. Lessons Learned
Below is a summary of four key “lessons learned”. Section 5, Issues and Recommendations, included information on addressing these lessons.
4.1. Identify thresholds for the commitment of resources to this type of event.
While the concept of a cooling center has merit in certain situations, there is also a concern of using resources in place for the overall good of the community during a time when resources may well be needed elsewhere.
4.2. Utilize existing communication methods identified in NIMS and SEMS.
4.3. Avoid appointing lead agencies to command roles when they possess no jurisdictional authority. Instead, insist they communicate with the liaison as articulated in NIMS.
4.4. Be proactive, but avoid being inappropriately influenced by utilities
and/or events that are occurring in other parts of the State.
While it is common knowledge that a widespread heat wave occurred throughout most areas of the state, we need to remember that high heat is not unusual for San Luis Obispo County, particular the North County areas. As such, ...
5. Issues and Recommendations Related to Lessons Learned
5.1 Determining the Actual Need for a Cooling Center
The report mentions communication concerns, but seems to fall short of
identifying what I saw as the underlying problem--that being the opening
of a cooling center without having established need. Item 1.3 indicates
that PG&E thought it might be necessary, states that OES contacted PH
who stated it was necessary but would survey local
relative to heat. The outcome of this survey is not listed.
Conversations with the EMSA during the "event" (overall, 4-6 days)
revealed that call volume did not indicate a heat emergency existed.
Our call volume didn't indicate an event worthy of special notice.
5.2 Issue: Operational Area Coordination
While each event generally has a “lessons
learned” component to it, perhaps the only significant issue related to this
incident is the failure of the general emergency management Operational Area
Coordinator (County OES) to timely notify the city of Paso Robles, through their
Department of Emergency Services. This
is not due to a “system” or planning failure, but rather was simply an
oversight by a member of
In addition, there was a somewhat related
issue within the city of
However, in both of the above cases once the communications were made and began through appropriate channels (in the case of the City, their Department of Emergency Services and for the Op Area with and between County OES and Paso Robles Emergency Services), effective coordination both by the Op Area with the City and communications within the City organization were efficient and effective.
related to 5.2: It is generally
acknowledged that the initial miscommunication from the Operational Area to the
Local governments within the San Luis
Obispo County Operational Area – including the city of
5.3 Issue: No Single Lead Agency
The report mentions future need for direct contact with Paso's
Department of Emergency Services. Department contact, for me, is not as
important as determining/predicting an actual event, utilizing normal
channels for the communication of information, and coordination of an
organized and effective response (if necessary). While extremely high
temperatures may have been considered an unusual occurrence, the
management of the response needn't have been.
While this was not truly an issue per se, it should be noted that for certain events there is no one lead agency that has complete incident command oversight. While each jurisdiction certainly retains its IC jurisdictional authority and the city and county both retain overall command and
control of an event in their jurisdiction through their emergency management system, response to an event such as extreme cold (or heat, flooding, and other emergencies with a wide ranging responsibilities, needs, and response efforts) can only be taken using a cooperative approach. This is an emergency management level response that is similar to a unified command approach with a field incident.
Thus the use of SEMS and NIMS at the
overall jurisdictional emergency management level is extremely important. This is especially relevant to Interagency
Coordination as described in SEMS. In fact, once established interagency
coordination between agencies including Public Health,
1 of 2 related to 5.3: While
each involved agency performed its roles as expected, development of at least
basic Standard Operating Guidelines (SOG) may be helpful for guidance by
appropriate agencies for responding to heat related primary events. This will need to be both jurisdiction
specific, or – for the County – a guide that serves for both its own local
government role and that of Operational Area Coordinator. At the least, a very basic guide will be
Recommendation 2 of 2 related to 5.3: As with past heat related issues, the primary threat is to public health. As they did during this heat event, it is suggested that Public Health continue as the lead agency for providing public information and coordination related to direct health issues. County OES should continue its role as general Op Area Coordinator, and the since the roles as filled by the American Red Cross, the city of Paso Robles, and other agencies were appropriate, once the proper communications channels were established, it is recommended that each agency retain their own jurisdictional and other designated roles with the understanding the proper, prompt interagency coordination is essential to an effective response.
6. Emergency Management Software Use
An emergency management software system for coordinating Operational Area response activities has been under development for about the past two years. A system under development by a particular vendor was used to post situation status information by the County and Paso Robles. Having this information in a common place to reference was very useful and resulted in positive feedback by all users.
Since the heat event, a new vendor has
been chosen to implement the actual emergency management software system that
will be used by the Operational Area.
This software – called WebEOC – is anticipated to be useful for future
interagency coordination activities and continued use of emergency management
software at least for situation status information is strongly encouraged for
future events. Although