Palo Alto Office of Emergency Services: Executive Summary

This executive summary is designed to provide background and capabilities information about the Office of Emergency Services (OES). The Office of Emergency Services is part of the City of Palo Alto Public Safety structure that includes the Police Department, Fire/EMS, and other departments.  OES is geared to not only support the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in the Police Department, but also to respond and provide resources to incident commanders in the field, including enhanced Incident Command Post (ICP) functionality with radio and data interoperability capabilities (in coordination with the Police Department's Technical Services Division).  

The powers of OES and the Director of Emergency Services, per PAMC 2.12.050(b), include: "(4) Direct coordination and cooperation of services and staff of the emergency organization of the city, and resolve questions of authority and responsibility that may arise between them; and (5) Represent the city in all dealings with public or private agencies on matters pertaining to emergencies as defined herein."  Therefore, OES leads day-to-day planning, intelligence, and coordination. Not only does OES work internally, but also with allied agencies, Stanford University, the private sector, and the community.  

In Palo Alto, our planning environment is "all hazards, all risk" - ranging from natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, climate change, etc.) to technological failures/accidents to crime and terrorism.  OES is also involved in planned events (such as Stanford football games, dignitary visits, etc.) to bolster public safety and ensure our skills and equipment are kept up to date. The activities are summarized below. 

Mission: The mission of the Office of Emergency Services is to prevent, prepare for and mitigate, respond to, and recover from all hazards.

Goal: Develop, maintain, and sustain a citywide, comprehensive, all hazard, risk-based emergency management program that engages the whole community.

Objective 1: Operational Readiness

OES works with all City departments to promote resilience to threats and risks of all types.  This is a measure of the ability of the City to handle a major critical incident or disaster.  People, infrastructure (facilities), supplies, and training are all elements of this.  OES manages the City's Emergency Operations Center (EOC), located in the Police Department, along with other assets.

Objective 2: Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA)

OES leads the process to understand what risks the City faces.  Often known as a Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (HVA) processes, this ongoing activity involves updates of Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources (CIKR) (facility inventories, registries) and awareness of the sorts of risks such as those listed in the Palo Alto annex to the regional Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP) and the National Planning Scenarios.

Objective 3: Policy & Plans

OES leads or coordinates the development and maintenance of policies and plans related to disasters, critical incidents, and City safety.  The City's Emergency Operations Plan, Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP), and various department plans are all part of this activity.

Objective 4: Situational Awareness

OES maintains awareness of threats to our area by coordinating with law enforcement and other agencies with intelligence information regarding special events, dignitary visits, and other evolving situations, both planned and unplanned.

Objective 5: Emergency Public Information

OES coordinates with the City Communications Officer, the Police Technical Services Division and the designated Public Information Officers (PIOs) to develop protocols for communication with the public and with partners.

Objective 6: Whole Community Engagement

OES develops structures to link non-governmental organizations (NGOs), residents, and businesses to the Incident Command System (ICS).  Elements of this include the restructured Emergency Services Volunteers (ESV) program (a unified structure that includes ARES/RACES Amateur (ham) Radio, Block Preparedness Coordinators (BPCs), and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers). 

Objective 7: Training and Exercises

In compliance with the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP), and the State of California Standardized Emergency Management System, OES works with community and partner stakeholders, such as Stanford University, Stanford Hospital and Clinics, and others to develop training and exercises.

Objective 8: Grant Management

OES seeks funding and manages awarded grants pertaining to emergency management and homeland security.

Objective 9: Technology

OES coordinates with the Police Technical Services Division and the City's Information Technology Department to deploy new technologies for emergency management.

Objective 10: Regionalization

OES participates in the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), in addition to the Santa Clara County OES Operational Area and our mutual aid relationships with San Mateo County Sheriff OES and other agencies. 

Download the OES Executive Summary (PDF)(PDF, 1MB)