2019 Starts Strong with Emergency Communications Academy

2019 Starts Strong with Emergency Communications Academy

More than 100 communications professionals from multi-jurisdictions statewide came together for the first annual Cal OES and CAPIO Emergency Communications Academy, January 7-8 in Sacramento.  Kicking off the two-day conference was Kelly Huston, with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and Christine Brainerd, CAPIO President and City of Folsom’s Communications Director. 

The first day was packed with dynamic speakers that had led communications strategies during high-profile emergency incidents including mass shootings, mudslides, train derailments, and airport safety and security. Each presenter brought passion and knowledge, and openly shared key take-a-ways from their experience. In addition, Cal OES staff gave a brief summary of Joint Information Center protocols and procedures.



(Upper left:  Chief Jarrod Burguan, Chief of Police, City of San Bernardino;  Upper right: Patrick Foy, captain, law enforcement division, CA Department of Fish and Wildlife;  Lower left: Amber Anderson, PIO, Santa Barbara City Fire, Jonathan Gudel, PIO, Governor's Office of Emergency Services, Monica Vargas, PIO, Governor's Office of Emergency Services, and Rob Mayberry PIO, Governor's Office of Emergency Services; Lower right: Justin Jacobs, former senior director corporate relations and media, Union Pacific Railroad and Rosemary Barnes, A.A.E., public information manager marketing & communications, Mineta San Jose International Airport)

However, unique to other training's, the focus of this conference was on real-life situations and hands-on experience crafting and responding to an incident as it progresses. The second day allowed all attendees to practice their skills and respond to a simulated crisis. Attendees were put into groups while Cal OES led each team through multiple stages of emergency communication.



(Upper left photo: Cal OES State Operations Center where state-wide incident support is managed during peak times of a crisis. Other photos show a few of the training stations that Academy students rotated through to gain practical experience.  Stations included setting up a JIC, Press Conference, Multimedia, Field PIO and Interviews.)

Some key takeaways:

  • Pre-establish relationships with local PIOs, media and other agencies
  • Remember that the goal is to provide accurate and timely information
  • Be adaptable to the incident
  • Stay in your lane when responding to media questions
  • Ask for support early in an incident
  • Don’t assume your information is accurate
  • Stay on point with clear, empathetic message

It was great to see teams working together and pulling from their knowledge, passion, and commitment to professional communications. Cal OES and CAPIO have committed to organize even a better conference in 2020, more to come!

Article written by Academy student Amy Williams, Chief of Staff to the City Manager, City of Sacramento and CAPIO's incoming president.

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