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  • Writer's picturePaul Grisanti

The Nature of Emergencies

At the City Council meeting on last Monday, the 12thof August, the Council received a 50 page+- draft report on how the City can improve its responses to future emergencies. The City’s integration with the various outside agencies that control our destiny in these events is a major theme of these improvements.

Within the next 30 days or so, the County will issue their after-action report which will contain more data about what went right, and wrong, during the Woolsey Fire event.I’m sure it will be interesting and depressing as well.

It’s easy and practical to train and prepare for what happens more than 99% of the time.The argument can be made that spending time and treasure optimizing a future response for every possible scenario overvalues the extraordinary at the expense of being better prepared for the likely.When we are lucky, our emergency responders can use their training and extrapolate an improvised response to the extraordinary when it occurs.

One of the hallmarks of a large emergency is that there are never enough resources ideally situated to deal with the initial stages of the “Event”.Woolsey would never have become the monster we experienced:

If only, every extra fire resource had not been diverted to fight the Paradise Fire.

If only, the Hill Fire had not started just prior to Woolsey and sucked up enough fire resources to keep it small.

If only, environmental considerations had not stopped controlled burns in the Santa Monica Mountains over 25 years ago … And so on….

Woolsey did happen and it was the result of a cascade of previous “Best Practice Decisions” that left the Fire Departments involved with too few resources to fight the initial stages of the fire.

Firefighters were successful in keeping Woolsey from crossing Malibu Canyon at the coast or leaking into upper Topanga from Mulholland.

As citizens, it is important that we prepare ourselves and our families to function for at least two weeks in the absence of power, water, gasoline and grocery stores.

We all need some time thinking about and training for the unforeseeable.The City has scheduled a 7-week Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), series of seven free classes that cover preparing to assist your family, friends, neighbors, and First Responders in future emergencies. The Series begins Thursday September 5th.Go to to sign up now, or call 310-456-2489 and ask for Stefanie in Susan Duenas office.

We all have different skills that can be help and “CERT” opens the door to many additional types of training to build your personal anti-emergency capital.

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