Key Elements of Aware & Prepare

1. Public Education & Awareness

Strategies and capabilities to help the general public become better prepared for a disaster, including programs that specifically target vulnerable populations (including the disabled, elderly, and non-English speaking populations) and focus on all-hazards emergencies.

Various jurisdictions developed their own public education programs to address emergency readiness with key constituencies in their city. Those programs include the City of Caprinteria’s Don’t Panic Prepare, City of Goleta’s Goleta Prepare Now, Santa Ynez Valley’s Community Emergency Preparedness Program, City of Santa Maria’s Aware & Prepare -Ready Program. The Santa Barbara County Operational Area has incorporated the best practices of each of these programs and adopted Aware & Prepare as the name for its public education and awareness program. This effort has kicked off with a series of Public Service announcements that are being aired on radio and television.

2. Preparedness (Governmental and Non-Governmental)

Strategies and capabilities to develop an active, inclusive planning process and a training and exercise program in the community, including quality control, continuous improvement, and feedback mechanisms.

One of the largest undertakings was enhancing the capabilities of nonprofit organizations in Santa Barbara County to prepare for disasters and collaborate with each other and with the government sector. The following local organizations have been provided with resources to enhance their role in a disaster situation: Direct Relief International, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, Santa Barbara County Chapter of the American Red Cross, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Community Health Centers of the Central Coast, Sansum Clinics, Unity Shoppe Inc., Community Action Commission, Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club, California Southern Baptist Convention.

3. Emergency Public Information

Strategies and capabilities (including information technology and equipment) to warn the public of an impending disaster and to provide emergency instructions on suggested actions. 

One key program is Radio Ready, a partnership between a collective of radio stations and the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, to provide accurate and timely information during a disaster. Each radio station was equipped with back-up electrical power and satellite phones to maintain communication with the Emergency Operations Center.

4. Volunteers

Continued development of an active VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters) organization made up of non-governmental agencies in partnership with local government to improve coordination and capabilities in disaster preparedness and response, as well as a planned and coordinated system for integrating congregate volunteers and DSWs (Disaster Service Workers) during all phases of emergencies and disasters.

Key projects under this theme include the re-initiating of the Santa Barbara County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, further development of the Medical Reserve Corps program, and work with various jurisdictional programs and county agencies to further implement CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) at a coordinated level for the county. A CERT committee was established and is now guiding CERT efforts in Santa Barbara County.

5. Authority, Management and Operational Area Coordination

Strategies and capabilities to develop strong relationships within the community, specifically between local governmental, non-governmental and non-for-profit organizations. Facilities and capabilities for community leaders to provide command, control and coordination of disaster response activities. 

One key project under this theme is the prioritization and significant contribution towards the approval and construction of a designated county Emergency Operations Center.

6. Resources and Personnel

Strategies and capabilities to develop caches of disaster supplies, lists of capabilities and skills of organizations and responders, as well as cataloging of who has what and the capability to move resources (people and supplies) to where they are needed.

Various nonprofit organizations and government agencies, including Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club, Santa Barbara County Animal Services, American Red Cross, and California Southern Baptist, were supported to obtain critical resources including trailers, equipment, back-up electrical power and staffing to enhance key programs.