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Department of Emergency Management

Disaster Service Worker

About the DSW Program

The State of California Disaster Service Worker (DSW) Program includes all public employees impressed into service by a person having authority to command the aid of citizens in the execution of his or her duties during a state of war, a state of emergency, or a local emergency.

As public employees, County of Sonoma employees are DSWs. Examples of emergencies for which County employees may be called upon to help as DSWs include fire, flood, earthquake, tsunami, large-scale power shutoff events or pandemics. In an emergency, non-essential public employees (those that are not required for continuity of operations) may be released from their usual duties so that they can be reassigned to assist any agency or organization carrying out its emergency response duties. Employees acting as DSWs will be assigned duties within their scope of training, skill, and ability. Examples of DSW responsibilities include:

  • Registering people at a shelter or mass prophylaxis clinic
  • Translating for non-English speaking individuals
  • Acting as a messenger at a designated site
  • Serving food to emergency staff or to vulnerable populations
  • Answering phones

Many County employees are already identified and trained for emergency response in Department Operations Centers (DOCs) or the County of Sonoma Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Some departments have specific disaster response duties that employees are trained to fulfill. Employees who do not have a specific disaster assignment and have not received specific training, may be asked to perform general duties as assigned under the DSW Program.

Employees Eligible for the Disaster Service Worker Program

Any member registered as an active fire fighting member of any regularly organized volunteer fire department, having official recognition, and full or partial support of the county, city, town or district in which such fire department is located is not considered eligible for the Disaster Service Worker Program. The program also excludes public employees who are not citizens of the United States.


Disaster Service Workers are paid for work done as a Disaster Service Worker only if they have taken and subscribed to the Loyalty Oath. Overtime and other compensation is provided in accordance with established MOUs and the nature of the disaster declaration.

Loyalty Oath

Public employees in the State of California are required to take a Loyalty Oath.

I, ________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California; that I take this obligation freely, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter.
California Constitution, Article XX, Section 3