The Office of Emergency Services (OES) of San Diego County is responsible for alerting county residents and agencies of approaching disasters, preparing EM personnel, and developing response strategies. The OES is the lead agency in preparing families, residents and businesses for minor and major environmental events. San Diego County experiences almost 500 earthquakes annually, although the majority of these are barely noticeable. Seismologists have predicted that San Diego County could experience an earthquake as powerful as 7.7 due to the presence of several fault lines in the region.
In recent years, San Diego has also been subject to other natural or manmade disasters including a wildfire in 2012 that killed one resident and burned more than 20 homes. In 1992, San Diego county was the site of a major sewage spill that dumped almost 180 million gallons of untreated sewage into the nearby ocean.
How to Become an Emergency Management Professional in San Diego County, California
Emergency management professionals in numerous specialties like environmental sciences, homeland security, mental health and emergency communications and notifications can find numerous employment opportunities in San Diego County. The academic and experience requirements range from minimal to quite extensive, but the majority of emergency management jobs typically has criteria like the following:
- Bachelor’s degree in emergency management, homeland security studies, or disaster response; many employers prefer applicants with at least a master’s degree
- At least five years of experience in emergency management and many employers may require up to ten years of professional experience
- At least one year in a supervisor position
- Superior verbal, written and interpersonal communication skills
- Strong organizational skills
- Willingness to work in hazardous environments
- Willingness to be on call and work for extensive periods if necessary
- Ability to train and organize volunteers
The California Office of Emergency Services’ Training Division hosts a variety of training courses and exercises periodically. One of the main programs within this division is the California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI) which offers instruction for a wide variety of EM fields including
- Hazardous materials
- Public safety
- Crisis communications
- Homeland security
- Disaster recovery
Other agencies that offer a wide range of emergency management courses in San Diego County include the Emergency Management Institute and the International Association of Emergency Managers.
Office of Emergency Services
The OES oversees a variety of programs including the Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT). CERT is an auxiliary service composed of volunteers from the community who participate in training for disaster operations. Members learn how to extinguish small fires, manage utilities, search and rescue, organize volunteers, and collect disaster intelligence. CERT members are trained to provide leadership and guidance following a disaster when local public agencies may be overwhelmed.
OES also developed the Community Protection/Evacuation Plan, which coordinates agencies and personnel in the case of a major disaster. This plan incorporates activities of police and sheriffs, the American Red Cross, animal services and local fire departments.