Ventura County Public Works Agency’s Preparedness Shines Amid Rare Weather Event
[VENTURA, 10.11.23] – Ventura County Public Works Agency (VCPWA) demonstrated its effective emergency preparedness during a rare weather event in August 2023. The event, which involved a tropical storm followed by an earthquake, was statistically estimated to occur once every 2,800 years. However, VCPWA was prepared for the event thanks to its proactive approach to training. In October 2022, the agency conducted scenario-based training specifically designed to prepare for responding to an intense storm followed by an earthquake. When the event became a reality on August 20, VCPWA teams collaborated effectively to assess damage and work with other first responders.
Ventura County residents will be comforted to learn that VCPWA conducts regular comprehensive emergency training exercises. These exercises equip staff with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to excel in high-pressure situations, natural or manmade.
In May 2023, VCPWA conducted a Communications Exercise (CommEx) to simulate and assess the flow of communication between county agencies and cities during emergency or disaster scenarios. The exercise focused on a simulated chemical/biological mass release event at the Long Beach/San Pedro Harbor terminal. The mock scenario included fictitious widespread panic, prompting a large-scale evacuation of residents northwards through Ventura County. This led to congested highways, city streets, and compromised county infrastructure.
Participants from the cities of Thousand Oaks, Moorpark, Port Hueneme, and Ventura along with VCPWA staff and the County Office of Emergency Services collaborated closely to manage evolving developments efficiently. Throughout the 8-hour exercise, 169 individual actions were initiated and completed successfully achieving the exercise objectives.
Key achievements of the exercise included:
- Enhanced Interagency Communication: The exercise highlighted the significance of seamless communication between agencies during emergencies, showcasing the tools and methods necessary for effective information exchange.
- Exceptional Performance Under Pressure: Participants gained invaluable experience managing high-pressure situations, demonstrating their ability to respond adeptly to crises.
- Confirmed Radio System Reliability: The event demonstrated the robust condition of radio systems in VCPWA trucks, an essential component of efficient communication during emergencies.
- Tested the implementation of a new high volume call center to manage urgent calls from the public during emergencies. Call volume increased from 25 per 20 minutes to 125 unique calls in 20 minutes; without a call being dropped.
- Comprehensive Infrastructure Inventory: County employees improved their in-depth understanding of available resources for effectively managing intense traffic incidents, as simulated in the exercise.
VCPWA’s unwavering commitment to emergency preparedness will provide comfort to Ventura County residents as we approach the winter season. Their exercise program will remain instrumental in equipping the agency to effectively respond to any emergency, no matter how rare or challenging.