BY CAROLINA ALBAN-STOUGHTON
CARLSBAD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
September is National Preparedness Month, and no one takes this more seriously than City of Carlsbad Emergency Preparedness Manager and Chair of the Ready Carlsbad Business Alliance (RCBA), David Harrison. “Every year we hear the same public service announcements: develop an emergency plan, prepare an emergency kit, and sign up for alerts (AlertSanDiego). Yes, these are important, but by now, they should be DONE. Let’s move beyond that,” says Harrison, whose mission in Carlsbad is to protect the lives and wellbeing of the entire community should any disaster strike. “Having this responsibility means that, every day, I strive to make Carlsbad the best prepared city: monitoring our environment, incorporating lessons learned from recent disasters and developing the most accurate and comprehensive plans, adopting state-of -the art technologies, building response and recovery caches.”
In California, recent devastating fires, and the two strong July earthquakes, have put residents and businesses on edge. But have these warnings been enough for them to create something as crucial as an emergency plan to protect their families, employees, critical assets, etc.?
At the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 State of the Community Luncheon last month, David Harrison highlighted a couple of organizations – Olivenhain Municipal Water District and Rancho Carlsbad Owners’ Association Emergency Response Team – that have programs that are worthy of emulation and examples of why readiness and preparedness should be part of every business’ culture. In the end, it was the Rancho Carlsbad Owners’ Association – Emergency Response Team, the organization that took this year’s Ready Carlsbad Business Alliance Commitment to Emergency Preparedness Award. “It was a great personal honor to be recognized with the Chamber of Commerce’s award,” said Robert Culbert, who is the Chairman of the Rancho Carlsbad Emergency Response Team. “We began the emergency team in 2011 and with many years of persistent work it is what you see today, a team that is well equipped with radios and other emergency tools. We meet every month,have drills and provide emergency information to the community. David Harrison has been extremely helpful since the beginning and continues to advise us on emergency matters,” added Culbert.
While presenting the award, Harrison highlighted why Rancho Carlsbad’s Emergency Response Team stood out. “This organization has developed, updated and maintained a comprehensive emergency plan. It has planned for the safety of some of our community’s potentially more vulnerable members and exercised the emergency plan in 2019 by conducting a full-scale community evacuation. In addition, they routinely interface with other community preparedness organizations, it is made up of community volunteers and we believe stands without peer among like organizations.”
For a business and for organizations such as the ones mentioned above, developing an emergency preparedness plan is not just something that’s important to do, it is in fact complying with a Cal/OSHA requirement. Failure to have this plan is a violation frequently cited by Cal/OSHA.
For this reason, the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and the Ready Carlsbad Business Alliance, are teaming up to help small to medium sized businesses develop their own emergency preparedness plans. The EMERGENCY PREPAREDENESS PLANNING WORKSHOP will take place on Friday, Sept. 27 from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., but presenters will be available for an hour after the workshop to work with the attendees on a one-on-one basis.
One of those presenters will be RCBA Secretary Stephen Baruch. “A plan which is practiced, so people know what to do, has been shown to make a big difference in protecting people and speeding recovery,” says Baruch, adding that “attendees will learn what a plan is composed of and how to implement it.” Joining Baruch will be Dennis Guseman from the Red Cross. “A strong community needs viable businesses. Viable businesses are ones who are best prepared to handle emergencies when they varise. Helping organizations prepare for inevitable emergencies is my way of helping the community to be strong,” says Guseman. Co-Chair of the Ready Carlsbad Business Alliance and board member of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, Josh Mazur, will also do a small presentation on cybersecurity during an emergency.
With hot temperatures, strong winds and Santa Ana conditions reminding us that fire season is right around the corner, Harrison wants to make sure that, at the very minimum, businesses and residents download the SD Emergency App as well as follow the City of Carlsbad’s Facebook and Twitter social media accounts in case a fire breaks. Harrison’s calm demeanor perfectly balances everything he is responsible for when it comes to preparedness and how ready and quickly he can deploy resources when needed. While he works tirelessly to keep the community he lives and works in safe, he knows that he can’t do this alone. “Fortunately, I am assisted in this by Don Rawson Carlsbad PD Retired, and well-supported by city leadership and elected officials. Also, supporting me in this is Carlsbad Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) – resident volunteers of exceptional dedication and skill, all committed to keeping Carlsbad safe, and the Carlsbad Chamber’s Ready Carlsbad Business Alliance, which so generously contributed to community recovery after the 2014 Poinsettia Fire.” Harrison, a retired Captain in the U.S. Navy has been serving as the City of Carlsbad’s Emergency Preparedness Manager for twelve years and most recently was behind Carlsbad’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) response to the 2014 Poinsettia Fire and coordinated the evacuation and sheltering support for neighboring jurisdiction evacuees during the 2017 Lilac Wildfire.
“My passion? It originates from and is motivated by my daily interaction with Carlsbad’s very compassionate and generous residents. And, it is sustained by a very supportive city staff: Police and Fire First Responders; Emergency Operations Center personnel from every department; and shelter workers, largely drawn from Parks and Recreation and the Library staff. We owe them so much, and we are blessed.”