City of Palo Alto
Interview Questions on the
Office of Emergency Services and Community Readiness

Interviewer: Arrietta Chakos
Interviewee/Talking points author: Douglas Moran
Date: Monday 2010 November 15

About Me

What does the city's disaster response capability look like at the present?

What would you like it to look like?


What would you consider to be that greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses in the current planning?

How would you assess collaboration among different agencies involved in the city’s emergency management and recovery planning? How can collaboration be improved // How would you assess links among city and community agencies involved in disaster readiness planning?

The typical "coordination" meeting involves various organizations getting up and presenting what they plan to do with the clear message that this is FYI so that other organizations

Often these interactions are only at the abstract level and critical details get missed. Example: SU Hospital and PAMF reps talking about this said they had stumbled upon the fact that their facilities had small stocks of various supplies such as inoculations that would be depleted during the first day of an E/D and they were presuming that the stockpile was handled by County Health Dept, but the plans of County Health assumed that the hospitals and clinics had significant stockpiles and distributions would not be needed for days.

Do you think political leaders and their senior appointees are sufficiently concerned about community readiness and disaster recovery? How can they be better involved? // How could preparedness and recovery planning be even better prioritized by local leaders?

While there is an awareness of the importance of this topic and a willingness to label it a priority, they seem to consistently miss the opportunities and steps to make it such (lacking the "winning team" approach).

The political leaders themselves are woefully unprepared. The plan focuses on the bureaucratic/organizational aspects, and provides nothing for preparing them to be effective (eg, tutorials on the political, organizational and psychological problems faced by similar leaders in other disasters).

Besides an earthquake, what potential emergencies most worry you (b/c of their intensity or frequency, or b/c of the city’s failure to prepare for them)

Disease outbreak: Because of the number of people coming/returning to Stanford University and local companies from around the world, I expect we are going to have to deal with a SARS-like incident or worse. Although there has been some progress on distribution of medication, we are woefully unprepared to take measures to slow the spread and to reduce the burden on medical facilities, for example distribution of advice on self-triage and self-quarantine/social distancing and forms of community support to ameliorate the disruption and to reduce the need to engage in risky behavior.