Be Prepared: Getting Ready for New and Uncertain Dangers

Report #162, January 2002


In this report, the Commission calls on California to institutionalize a sense of urgency into policies that generate continuous improvements in how threats are assessed, how emergency response agencies are organized and managed, and how resources are defined and used in the name of public safety.

During its review, the Commission found California has not verified the ability of local agencies to respond adequately to multiple, large-scale disasters – particularly attacks engineered to cause massive casualties, destruction and chaos. The State has not identified what will be necessary – or developed a plan to ensure – that California is prepared for the types of emergencies it may face. The Commission also found the State has not adequately maintained its public health assets to meet the needs of a growing population. The State should improve the content and the means for distributing information to the public at the time of civil emergencies.

Based on these findings, the Commission recommends the State fortify local disaster preparations by requiring risk and vulnerability assessments, adopting standards for readiness and creating effective mechanisms for verifying that standards are met.The State should fortify its structure for governing emergencies, for further improving communications and for ensuring that security and preparedness policies are responsive to public needs and effectively implemented. The Commission also recommends for the State to measure the adequacy of emergency medical response capacity in all communities and ensure appropriate resources are dedicated to creating and maintaining adequate public health services. California should explore ways to use modern technology – coupled with information protocols – to completely and accurately inform the public about potential threats and the actions they should take.