Wary of Disasters, City Officials Revamp Emergency Procedures

Measures that are being taken by La Cañada Flintridge officials to handle disasters such as wildfires and earthquakes were detailed during a special meeting of the LCF City Council this week.
Chris Carey, LCF’s emergency services coordinator, said Tuesday that he and an emergency preparedness committee recently reviewed what to do if such an event occurred. Carey said he is revamping some materials for use in the city’s emergency operations center and going through information binders and checklists available for groups and individuals.
He said there will be a “kickoff binder” ready to be used by the first official who arrives to set up emergency center activity in the event of a disaster.
“You get in, you get a checklist,” Carey said. “As we continue to build that out, it’s going to have a picture of what does this emergency operations center setup look like, who do you call, what’s the information you need — all of that very detailed information, in checklist format, so that during a stressful event of an emergency, you have documents that will guide you through it.”
City Manager Mark Alexander said after the meeting the emergency operations center is “an actual, physical place that is activated during an emergency. We convert the existing City Council chambers into the functioning EOC and it is a place where city employees, volunteers, liaison representatives from first responders and outside agencies (utilities, Red Cross, Pasadena Humane Society) gather to collect information or intelligence on the emergency and to direct resources in response to the crisis.
“There is an adjacent room that houses electronic equipment, radios, computers, etc. that also houses books/binders (emergency plan, hazard mitigation plan, supplies for the EOC, etc.).”
Carey presented an emergency preparedness overview and training session to council members in a special meeting, about an hour before a regularly scheduled council meeting began. The overview included a detailed video and slide show about chains of command and a hypothetical scenario on what to do during an active shooter incident.
The active-shooter portion addressed such matters as what the city’s response and the council’s role would be and the immediate and long-term issues officials should be thinking about.
Councilman Jonathan Curtis asked whether, if an active shooter was believed to be on school property, the school or the city would declare the incident to be an emergency.
Alexander answered that the greater impact would be on the community at large and could result in evacuations of neighborhoods near the school, so the city could declare the situation to be an emergency because of the possible use of police and fire resources.
The conversation about what to do in a disaster began after Carey gave a detailed presentation on emergency preparedness and discussed the response in an active-shooter scenario. Councilman Michael Davitt asked what would happen if Carey or Alexander — who was on vacation during the start of the Station Fire in August 2009 that eventually burned more than 160,000 acres — were not around for a disaster.
Alexander responded that anyone could set up the operations center and then a hierarchical chain of command would eventually take over.
Councilman Greg Brown said future obstacles would remain when the city responds to other disasters, since there are only five council members and 25 full-time staff members; he also alluded to the likelihood that local police and firefighting resources could be stretched thin amid a widespread disaster.
“We’re a very small city,” Brown said. “You do the math and realize in any kind of big disaster, the ratio of citizen to responder is a very high ratio.”
Brown added that the acting city manager when Alexander was away on vacation, Kevin Chun, was a local resident and one council member was out of town.
“So it was four City Council people and [Chun] and several city staff members,” Brown said. “Some of them had their own houses in danger. So all of that really came down to a 24-hour process but manned by small groups of city staff and the council. I think we’ve got to be realistic” about the availability of help.
Toward the end of the session, Brown said he would like to see the emergency preparedness overview be part of future agendas.
“There’s so many aspects to this,” Brown said, including communication with residents, working with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Fire Department and what officials should do as possible future topics.

PUBLIC SAFETY REPORTS

Immediately after the meeting, the council went into regular session.
Lt. Mark Slater, interim captain at the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station, said there were three instances of grand theft auto in LCF in April. He said there was no pattern and the incidents appeared to be random.
“There is no trend,” Slater said, adding that two of the three vehicles have been recovered.
Slater said no homicides, rapes, robberies or aggravated assaults were reported in April. Three residential burglaries and 25 larceny thefts were reported.
Three people who were traveling in a pickup truck containing the kinds of tools used by burglars were arrested recently after a deputy pulled them over upon noticing that their vehicle had paper plates and dark tinted windows, Slater said. The suspects were South Central L.A-area gang members, and the driver was found to have a suspended license, the lieutenant added. He said officials who were preparing to tow the vehicle found masks, gloves, flashlights, a crowbar and other items “consistent with burglars.”
The suspects said they were in LCF to “meet a young lady” but didn’t know what house she lived in and were just driving around, Slater said. Two of the three are free on bond and authorities continue to investigate, he said.
Anderson Mackey, an assistant chief with the county Fire Department, said medical calls increased nearly 50% in April, compared with the same month in 2018, but it was unclear why.
There were 139 responses from the department in April, including 105 medical calls. There were 61 medical calls last year in the same time frame.
Nine traffic collisions were reported, with four involving pedestrians, Mackey said. There was one vehicle fire on the eastbound 210 Freeway west of the 2 Freeway, and one accidental kitchen fire was reported.
Later, the council unanimously passed a second reading of an ordinance enforcing penalties for people who use city sports fields when they are closed, as shown by posted signs.
Division Manager Arabo Parseghian said the penalties will start 30 days from Tuesday, and he will be ordering signs that will be installed within the next two to three weeks.
The penalties are for “only when the fields are closed, it’s not like you will get penalized for using the fields,” Parseghian said.
A first offense would lead to a fine of up to $100. The second violation would result in a fine of up to $200 and a third offense would warrant a penalty of not more than $500. The fourth offense, and any other within 12 months, would be treated as a misdemeanor.

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