The Emergency Management Division is the lead agency for the Sonoma County Operational Area. The Sonoma County Operational Area consists of nine incorporated cities (Cloverdale, Cotati, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Sonoma and the Town of Windsor), Sonoma State University, the Sonoma County Junior College District, and other special districts within the county's geographical boundary. Under the State of California's Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS), the Operational Area is the primary level of coordination for response and recovery activities following an emergency or disaster. SEMS is a management system that provides an organizational framework and guidance for operations at each level of the state's emergency management system. It provides the umbrella under which all response agencies may function in an integrated fashion.
The division's staff includes:
- Emergency Manager
- Emergency Coordinators
- Bay Area UASI Project Manager
- Auxiliary Communication Service Chief Radio Officer
This staff is responsible for all emergency management services in the Sonoma County Operational Area. A Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) was signed in 1954 designating this Division as the lead agency. This agreement was revised in 1996 to adopt the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) and implement the Operational Area concept.
The Sonoma County/Operational Area Emergency Council also acting as local Citizen Corp Council meets twice a year to develop policy and provide guidance. The Emergency Coordinators Forum, consisting of local city and special district personnel, meets quarterly to develop and coordinate preparedness procedures and guidelines for the County/Operational Area. Special district personnel assigned emergency management responsibilities for their agency. Coordination and information sharing are the goals of this forum as well as other working groups formed in the County to address emergency management issues. One example is the standardization of Emergency Operations Center (EOC) procedures and materials to be utilized in the County/Operational Area EOC and the city EOCs.
An aggressive program of individual and team training & exercising continues to maintain the high state of emergency management readiness in Sonoma County. Various courses are offered each year with a high level of attendance from city and County personnel and also supporting community and volunteer organizations that play an important role in emergency response and recovery.
There is strong political support from the County Board of Supervisors, the County Administrative Officer, the various city councils and city managers, school and fire boards, and special district associations.