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The Humboldt Operational Area includes the entirety of the County and its cities, towns, and special districts, in coordination with independent tribes. The Sheriff is designated Director of Emergency Services for the Operational Area by local ordinance.
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The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services (OES) coordinates and participates in emergency planning, response, and recovery under the direction of Sheriff William Honsal and in collaboration with local, state, and federal partners. OES is the primary local coordination agency for emergencies and disasters affecting residents, public infrastructure, and government operations in the County.
Per Humboldt County Code §2210-6, the Sheriff is the designated Director of Emergency Services for the Humboldt Operational Area.
When the County’s needs exceed the coordinated capacity of local response agencies, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is available to provide additional resources. When local and state resources are insufficient during a catastrophic disaster, the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may be requested to supplement available state resources, primarily during post-incident recovery.
A Cal OES truck delivers supplies for an Alternate Care Site designed for COVID-19 patients.
A Local Emergency affecting the County of Humboldt may be proclaimed by the Board of Supervisors or the Sheriff (or their designee) when hazardous conditions cause significant damages or pose an imminent threat to people, property, and/or the environment. Proclaiming a Local Emergency can provide the County a pathway to additional resources. Tribes and incorporated cities may independently proclaim local emergencies, while County proclamations include all cities, regions, and special districts within the Operational Area.
State-level emergency declarations include a governor's proclamation of a State of Emergency, governor's executive orders, and the Cal OES director's concurrence with an operational area's emergency proclamation. The state Emergency Services Act and the California Disaster Assistance Act direct emergency response and recovery policy and operations in California. State financial disaster assistance may be provided at the discretion of the governor.
Federal disaster declarations are requested by the governor, granted by the president, and reserved for catastrophic events. A presidential declaration of an Emergency or of a Major Disaster provides access to federal resources for individuals, businesses, and public agencies.
When an incident occurs, incident stabilization activities (e.g. firefighting, damage assessment, property conservation) may be underway at the scene of the incident. Others assigned to support incident stabilization, business continuity or crisis communications activities will report to an emergency operations center (EOC). The emergency operations center is a physical or virtual location from which coordination and support of incident management activities is directed.
The Humboldt County Sheriff's OES manages emergency response from the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), using the Incident Command System (ICS). The state Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS), and the federal National Incident Management System (NIMS) and National Response Framework (NRF) establish common operating procedures, best practices, and a “whole community” approach to disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation. Emergency managers are very fond of acronyms.
A large-scale EOC activated in response to the COVID-19 emergency in Humboldt County.
A small county EOC activated in response to localized flooding.
When an event involves the response of multiple County departments and allied agencies which come together to manage an event, efficient information flow is critical to success and essential to meeting the expectations of the public. A Joint Information Center (JIC) is the way to achieve that information flow.
A JIC is a group of representatives from the involved departments and agencies designated to handle public information needs. It is part of the Command Staff and is led by the Public Information Officer (PIO). It serves as the ‘hub’ for the release of timely, accurate, consistent, and useful disaster related information. During an emergency, the overall priority of emergency management agencies is to provide maximum protection to public health and property. The goal of a JIC is to provide accurate, timely, and coordinated information to the public and the media. Coordinated information means less confusion, inaccuracies, and duplication of effort. The County of Humboldt’s Joint Information Center Plan was adopted by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on July 15, 2014.
Sheriff Honsal speaks to staff members working in the COVID-19 JIC.