Report: Palo Alto needs new emergency director | April 8, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 8, 2011

Report: Palo Alto needs new emergency director

Study also urges safer location for emergency headquarters, stronger community involvement

by Gennady Sheyner

Palo Alto should hire a director to oversee its emergency services, relocate its emergency-services headquarters and forge stronger relationships between city staff and the greater community, a consultant is recommending in a study released this week.

This story contains 886 words.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be e-mailed at


Posted by Walter Underwood, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Apr 8, 2011 at 11:07 am

Walter Underwood is a registered user.

Where can we see the original report? Link please.

Posted by Annette, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 8, 2011 at 11:24 am

Web Link

Posted by Ronna Devincenzi, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2011 at 11:28 am

Annette Glankopf, co-chair of Palo Alto Neighborhoods, is an unsung hero in Palo Alto. She, Sheri Furman and a handful of other residents deserve kudos for the City's being equipped to participate in the statewide Golden Guardian excercise, and the Silver Sentinel excercise, several years ago. Each was a valuable experience for all Palo Alto neighborhoods, including California Avenue, the only business district that participated.

Before Golden Guardian, another unsung hero, Officer Ken Dueker of the Dept. of Emergency Services, prepared me and several other California Avenue business owners, to successfully survey the entire CAADA district in only 35 minutes, equipping us to get information back to city authorities in a timely fashion. Had that been a real emergency, what was done would have been a great contribution for the community.

If Annette urged the council during its annual retreat in January to formalize the city's emergency-preparedness efforts with a new director and possibly even a new commission, city council would be wise to listen to her. She has been in the trenches regarding E-Prep for years, and she and Sheri know what's what.

Since this is California, it's not a matter of "if" there will be a real emergency, rather it is a matter of "when". Annette and Sheri have done their homework; they have the answers. Heed their advice.

Posted by Carlito waysman, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Is this another layer of bureaucrats on the taxpayers dime?

Posted by Charlie, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 8, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Well, A director soon comes with mgrs & workers. Doubt anyone needs help to get onto 101 or 280.

Posted by NO-PAN-Involvement, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2011 at 1:37 pm

> Palo Alto Neighborhoods (PAN)

This report suggests that PAN be involved in the emergency preparedness. PAN is a group of self-promoting individuals, none of which has been elected to this particular group's membership.

The idea that a bunch of politically-minded individuals be integrated into the emergency preparedness of the city is nuts. This author of this report should be grilled as to why she made this recommendation, and all references to PAN should be taken with a grain of salt.

Posted by Yes PAN, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Good grief. Mr. No-Pan objects to people who volunteer and do great work for the community!
I'll bet he prefers people who make big bucks off of us, like developers and architects. Let Them decide everything.
i note he refers to these people as politically-minded, not politically seeking. Free floating hate!

Posted by who cares, a resident of Triple El
on Apr 8, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Yea, another management position for taxpayers. Keene forgets his position as city manager is to act as Emergency Director and be responsible for coordinating fire, police, building, public works, etc.... Remember we hired him as a manager? Good grief! It's as he thinks his job is to hire consultants to tell us he's not qualified to perform any of his duties. I don't mind incompetency, but I don't need a high priced outside consultant to tell me that we hired the wrong person.

Posted by Rogue Trader, a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 9, 2011 at 9:50 pm

What does an emergency director do on the 99.99% of days when there is no emergency? Sounds like more bloated government to me.

Posted by george brownin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 9, 2011 at 10:48 pm

For those who criticize the idea of a coordinated response to the forthcoming earthquake, I ask them how they plan to cope. Heading to 101 or 280 would probably be impossible - roads buckled, power lines down, thousands of cars trying to move out of town, possible night time event, bad weather, etc.

Compare the responses to recent earthquakes in Chile, Japan, New Zealand, and Haiti. Haiti had no plans and is still a disaster area. New Zealand and Chile are recovering rapidly; Japan's earthquakes and tsunamis are too recent to evaluate how successful and how soon recovery will take. The wild card of leaky nuclear reactors has impeded their plans to cope with the earthquake, but they did exist and were put into action which has lessened the tragedy.

We don't have such plans. An intelligent community should make plans to cope with possible disasters. A free for all by people in panic is too horrible to consider.

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2011 at 9:37 am

Apparently the city needs high-priced consultants to provide common sense. First it was the re-org of the planning department, now this. Both reports recommend the obvious.

Posted by No-PAN-Involvement, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2011 at 9:46 am

> Good grief. Mr. No-Pan objects to people who volunteer and
> do great work for the community!

Really? Who says that they do "great work"? When have any of these "volunteers" actually done anything that save lives, or property? When have any of these volunteers actually turned out to help rebuild after a catastrophe? Thinking back to the flood of '98, weren't there some boy scouts (or sea scouts) that actually "waded in" and helped to do some evacuations in the flooded area? Interesting that this "study" does not recognize their work, or identify them as a possible emergency resource. Wonder why?

It's difficult to find people in PAN who were former military (particularly at the rank of Captain and Major), or have been involved in any real disaster relief efforts. How many PAN people dropped what they were doing, and went down to help manage the Katrina disaster relief effort? or the Haiti earthquake response? Or the Christchurch response?

On the other hand, the US Navy was on-station, off the coast of Louisiana about four days after the flooding was declared the basis of a disaster area. In Japan, the US Navy (and Marines) were these within a similar time, and are (presumably) still helping the Japanese government, and people, to deal with the emergency response to the quake/tsunami. And the US military also helped out in the early stages of the Haiti relief effort. Wonder what role the US military is expected to play here in Palo Alto disaster relief?

> i note he refers to these people as politically-minded,
> not politically seeking. Free floating hate!

Astounding .. a critical analysis and the comments are labeled as "hate speech" by (presumably) a PAN member. Another reason why these people have no place in the disaster planning/response for a town this size.

> Heading to 101 or 280 would probably be impossible -
> roads buckled, power lines down, thousands of cars trying
> to move out of town, possible night time event, bad weather, etc.

And this prediction is based on what scientific research? While roads have buckled in other quake locations, every road in every earthquake zone has NOT buckled. The claim by this poster that every egress out of Palo Alto would be blocked is closer to hysteria, than not. Keep in mind that if one in-out road (San Antonio, Page Mill, etc) were closed, that Middlefield, or El Camino would offer access to Mountain View, or Menlo Park, and access to the highways.

We lived through the Loma Prieta Quake. How many roads were "buckled"? Power was down throughout town--in large part because the City had failed to underground the utilities, which it promised to do back in 1976. So, how is a "coordinated response" going to get the Utility in gear, and get that work done before the next earthquake? Good grief--the Utility can't even get the high tension feeds into Palo Alto underground. So, the town is subject to power outages every time a plane his the incoming electrical feeds. However, without a Manager of Emergency Services, the Utility/City Managers office seemed to be able to get the power back on.

> We don't have such plans.

Palo Alto has an emergency plan. People who claim otherwise should take the time to locate a copy, read it, and then make comments based on the deficiencies of that plan. For instance, what does the emergency plan say about all of the arterials being "buckled"? Will those government agencies with heavy equipment be tasked to start "fixing the roads", or is this scenario unlikely, so it's not been considered? What is the estimated time-line for "fixing the roads" in such scenarios?

People pushing this idea ought to "get a grip".

Posted by Gennady Sheyner, Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Apr 10, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Gennady Sheyner is a registered user.


The report can be seen here:

Web Link

Posted by Herb Borock, a resident of Professorville
on Apr 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Palo Alto already has an Office of Emergency Services Coordinator who reports to a Deputy Fire Chief. Here is the OES Coordinator job description: Web Link

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

"A women gets stuck in the mud, the local Emergency services are so inept that the Coast Guard has to send a heli out to get her?"
Perhaps, since so few people get stranded in the mud, it is more cost effective to defer to the Coast Guard. The helicopter run probably cost $1000 or so, but a standby mud scooter would cost thousands a year upkeep and storage.
As for heading for 101, most experts recommend sheltering in place as long as place is habitable. That is why the suggestion to store food for a few days, drinking water and batteries is good.
I do not want our emergency service folk suddenly under a new and unproved direction. And if our City Manager feels lacking in that department, I suggest he retire and make room for someone capable.

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