This episode brings us to the topic of homeland security in California. The State Threat Assessment System (STAS) describes its mission as Protecting society through shared information and communication. It fosters a collaborative effort to enhance the reporting, tracking, analysis, and assessment of criminal threat information and suspicious activity, produces and shares timely and actionable homeland security information, and enhances the safety of the citizens of California, while rigorously protecting their privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.

We sit down with Maria Gomez, who is a strategic analyst team manager with the STAC, the State Threat Assessment Center, which is part of the STAS.

STAC
http://www.caloes.ca.gov/cal-oes-divisions/state-threat-assessment-center

STAS
https://calstas.org/default.aspx/MenuItemID/168/MenuGroup/CALSTAS+Home.htm

Fusion Centers
https://www.dhs.gov/fusion-center-success-stories

 

 

 

 

 

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Kelly Hudson at the Pu'u O'o lava flow

Kelly Hudson is an external affairs officers with FEMA, and is based in Region IX, Oakland, California. She’s worked for FEMA for 12 years, with ten of those in Region IX.

In this episode (#21) she reflects on the many major disasters she’s worked and talks about the challenges of each and lessons learned. She was still a newbie when Hurricane Katrina hit and was dispatched to help with communications as on-scene public information officer. She and her team were escorted by armed guards due to the dangerous nature of angry and desperate locals. She also candidly discusses how, in her eagerness, she got ahead of the messaging curve and told the media too much too soon; that’s a lesson she urges anyone who deals with the media to remember. Kelly also shares her own ways of surviving the chaos of hectic disaster responses, and how it’s important to take care of “Number-1.”

 

 

 

Kelly’s list of major disaster responses are impressive:

External Affairs Officer, Wildfires, Northern California (2015)

External Affairs Officer, Pu'u 'O'O Lava Flow, Hawaii (2014)

External Affairs Officer, Tropical Storm Iselle, Hawaii (2014)

External Affairs Officer, Tropical Storm Halong, Guam (2014)

External Affairs Officer, Severe Storms, American Samoa (2014)

External Affairs Officer, Hurricane Irene (2011)

Deputy External Affairs Officer, Joplin, Mo. tornado (2011)

External Affairs Liaison, Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (2010)

External Affairs Lead, Tsunami and flooding, American Samoa (2009)

Assistant External Affairs Officer, North Dakota floods (2009)

Deputy External Affairs Officer, Hurricane Ike (2008)

External Affairs Officer, Southern California wildfires (2008)

Executive Officer, Southern California wildfires (2007)

News Desk Lead/Public Information Officer, Hurricane Katrina (2005)

Researcher and Writer/Public Information Officer, New Jersey floods (2005)

Researcher and Writer, Hurricane Ivan (2004)

 

Links

FEMA Region IX

FEMA Region IX Leadership

Pu'u O'o Lava Flow

Pahoa

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Episode 20 was recorded on the road in San Luis Obispo during the 2016 Ingestion Pathway Exercises, a multi-day testing of state and local counties by FEMA for nuclear incidents at Diablo Canyon. We talk with Dr. Penny Borenstein, the Health Officer for the County of San Luis Obispo.  She talks about how her health department and others might get involved in nuclear incidents immediately following a radiation breach. She also talks about other hot topics in SLO such as antibiotic resistance, secondary hospital-based infections, Zika virus, Valley Fever, drought, and West Nile virus.

In her position, Dr. Borenstein has been a staunch advocate for advancing the public’s health through disease control programs, health education, access to health care, and policy development. One of her first initiatives was a departmental reorganization which resulted in formation of two new divisions – Health Promotion and Health Care Services. The Health Promotion Division created a unified focus on population-based prevention. Staffed primarily at the outset with a small number of health educators and nutritionists working in Tobacco Control, WIC and Childhood Obesity Prevention, the unit now also has programs in Oral Health and Injury Prevention. The division also works extensively on community health improvement through a range of policy initiatives aimed at food systems, climate change, the built environment, and air quality.

Prior to moving to California in 2008, she held several public health leadership positions in the Mid-Atlantic region, and was the founder and Executive Director of Baltimore HealthCare Access, Inc., a non- profit agency devoted to assuring access to health care services for low income persons and special populations. A native New Yorker, Dr. Borenstein received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and her medical degree from the State University of New York Health Science Center in Syracuse. She received her pediatrics training at the University of Connecticut in Hartford and a Master’s Degree in public health from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

 

Links

http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/health/publichealth.htm

https://www.pge.com/en_US/safety/how-the-system-works/diablo-canyon-power-plant/diablo-canyon-power-plant.page

https://www.cdc.gov/zika/

http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/community/about/antibiotic-resistance-faqs.html

 

 

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For Episode #19, we traveled to San Luis Obispo County, the home to Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, where Cal OES as well as many other local, state, and federal agencies were participating in a radiological training exercise.  These types of exercises are held every two years and evaluated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The exercises assist in the development of emergency response plans to ensure that the health and safety of the public is protected in the event of a radiological incident. 

Today’s podcast features Ron Alsop, the Emergency Services Manager for San Luis Obispo County Office of Emergency Services (OES). He has been with the county’s OES for 26 years and was previously with Cal Fire for three years. He talks about the importance of having full scales exercises and the unique challenges faced by this region.

Ron also discusses how educating the community about the nuclear power plant and how the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system can assist in the event o fan emergency. He also shares an example how controlling rumors is critical during an incident, especially in this day of social media. He concludes with advice to those responsible for delivering information to the public and how transparency can help build trust.

In addition to ongoing preparedness work that includes nuclear power plant emergency readiness, Ron’s experience includes responding to incidents such as large fires throughout the state, the 6.5 San Simeon earthquake in 2003 in San Luis Obispo County, winter storms, commercial aircraft incidents, including the 2000 Alaska Airlines incident off of Ventura County,hazardous material incidents and he provided Emergency Manager’s Mutual Aid(EMMA) assistance to Cal OES in after the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

Ron served on the California statewide committee that developed the initial EMMA plan and on a statewide task force related to initial Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) implementation. Ron is a past chair of the California Operational Area Coalition, which is a coalition of California’s 58 county emergency managers and a former member of the California Association of Public Information Officials.

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Links to additional information or resources:

Cal OES

San Luis Obispo County

San LuisObispo County Office of Emergency Services

DiabloCanyon Nuclear Power Plant

Wireless EmergencyAlerts or WEA

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This episode (#18) Cal OES Deputy Chief Paul Tassone sits down at the mic with us. Chief Tassone is going on his 34th year in law enforcement, and his 6th with Cal OES. His career began with a tour of duty in Air Force when he got out of high school. While in he received medical training and when he got out he began working as an EMT2 while going back to school. It was during that time he became interested in law enforcement. He attended the Sacramento Sheriff’s Academy in 1982 and spent the next couple of decades working his way up through the ranks, working closely with emergency management, until landing at Cal OES in 2011. He’s now deputy chief, administration. A self-proclaimed adrenalin junky, he loves working with emergency services and the people in that community.

Chief Tassone talks about how much he relies on technology and is especially impressed by modern mapping systems and their use during search and rescue missions – satellite trackers and real-time feeds from air to ground to help direct crews with pinpoint accuracy even at night. To see an example of that technology, click this link to watch a story that also includes night vision goggles and helicopter demonstrations (the monitoring is at the end of the video.)

Links

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From Left to Right in Photo:

ELI OWEN, Deputy Commander, California State Threat Assessment Center

THOR EDENS, California Cyber Security Integration Center

MICHAEL CREWS, Cal OES Information Security Officer

For this episode we brought three of California’s cybersecurity gurus who talk about some of things you and your agency/company can and should be doing to protect yourself from cybercrime. October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month which is an annual campaign to raise awareness about cybersecurity, but any month, any day is a good time to beef up your own personal protection. We live in a world that is more connected than ever before. The Internet touches almost all aspects of everyone’s daily life, whether we realize it or not. National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) is designed to engage and educate public and private sector partners through events and initiatives to raise awareness about cybersecurity, provide them with tools and resources needed to stay safe online, and increase the resiliency of the Nation in the event of a cyber incident. (Source: Dept. of Homeland Security)

California Cybersecurity Integration Center’s (CalCSIC) mission is to reduce the likelihood and severity of cyber incidents that may significantly compromise the security and resilience of California’s economy, its critical infrastructure,and information resources. Cal OES executes this mission together with CDT, CHP and CMD. Cal-CSIC is comprised of two key functional components: (1) cyberthreat analysis; and, (2) dissemination and coordination of incident response and recovery operations (hereinafter “recovery”). Specifically, Cal-CSIC coordinates the identification, prevention or mitigation of cyber threats, as well as coordinates the response to, and recovery from significant cyber incidents. Cal-CSIC coordinates the production of threat assessments for theState, and facilitates analysis and exchange of cyber threat information with all affected organizations.

Terms Used:

Cyber Crime – Crime conducted via the Internet or someother computer network

APT – Advanced Persistent Threat

Social Engineering –  A line of attack that relies heavily on humaninteraction and often involves tricking people into breaking normal securityprocedures. (Source: TechTarget)

Spycraft – (aka Tradecraft) Within the intelligencecommunity, this refers to the techniques, methods and technologies used inmodern espionage (spying) and generally, as part of the activity ofintelligence.

Polymorphic – Polymorphic malware is harmful, destructiveor intrusive computer software such as a virus, worm, Trojan or spyware thatconstantly changes ("morphs"), making it difficult to detect withanti-malware programs. Evolution of the malicious code can occur in a varietyof ways such as filename changes, compression and encryption with variablekeys. (Source: TechTarget)

Spear phishing – An email that appears to be from anindividual or business that you know. But it isn't. It's from the same criminalhackers who want your credit card and bank account numbers, passwords, and thefinancial information on your PC.

Ransomware – There are different types of ransomware.However, all of them will prevent you from using your PC normally, and theywill all ask you to do something before you can use your PC. They can targetany PC users, whether it’s a home computer, endpoints in an enterprise network,or servers used by a government agency or healthcare provider.

Ransomware can:

  • Prevent you from accessing your computer.
  • Encrypt files so you can't use them.
  • Stop certain apps from running (like your web browser).
  • Ransomware will demand that you pay money (a “ransom”) toget access to your PC or files. We have also seen them make you completesurveys.
  • There is no guarantee that paying the fine or doing whatthe ransomware tells you will give access to your PC or files again. (Source:Microsoft) 

Links:

Stop Think Connect

www.stopthinkconnect.org 

Interpol

www.NoMoreRansom.org

Ransomware Help

www.NoMoreRansom.org

CalCSIC Announcement

https://www.gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=19083

https://itpeernetwork.intel.com/california-to-establish-a-cybersecurity-integration-center/

California Cyber Security 

STATE.CYBERSECURITY@CALOES.CA.GOV

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Imagine this situation — the first time you visit New York City it just happens to be on 9/11. The second time you visit is during Hurricane Sandy, and the third time, would you even go back?  The man we’re going to talk to today experienced that string of disasters and suddenly found himself leading the initial emergency response to those historical events. He’s a UC Davis alum and 5th generation San Franciscan.
Robert J. Fenton, Jr. was appointed Regional Administrator for FEMA Region IX in July 2015.  Since joining FEMA in 1996, Mr. Fenton has played a significant role in numerous large-scale response and recovery operations in the U.S. and has responded to more than 50 Federal disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, the four Florida Hurricanes of 2004, the Southern California Wildfires of 2003 and 2007, the Super Typhoon Pongsona in Guam, and the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attacks.
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Links

FEMA's Mobile App

https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app

Urban Search and Rescue

https://www.fema.gov/urban-search-rescue

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Retired Los Angeles City Fire Battalion Chief Larry Schneider's long and storied career began during World War II. He didn't retire until 2007, just shy of his 80th birthday; he says he could have performed his job well for another five years but felt it was time for him to settle down.

We met Mr. Schneider at his home in the hills of LA and spent a wonderful afternoon talking with him about everything from the early days of his career to the Northridge Earthquake.  Take some time to listen to his stories and then check out the links below for some really great photos from his past.


Click here for the story of how Larry Schneider's life was saved, and the great photos of the scene and his hero afterward.



Click here for historical photos of Schneider and his station.


Photo: Photos:Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Archive


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In this episode Cal OES Coastal Region Administrator talks about the merging of data science and technology and how emergency managers and responders get surprisingly effective help from free phone apps. She also talks about how the state was able to reduce the financial impacts of the Napa quake and keep the important wine industry flowing. Plus, she candidly discusses her way of handling emotionally draining disasters such as the San Diego Fire Siege of 2007 and the San Mateo Floods in 2015, and how she's able to face angry citizens when they accuse government of not doing enough for them in times of crisis. 


Jodi Traversaro has worked for the State for more than 20 years. Traversaro came to Cal OES from the California Department of Human Resources, where she oversaw training and performance management. She worked for Cal OES from 2005 to 2008 where she served as the Director of the California Specialized Training Institute, led the Public Information Office during the response and recovery for the 2007 Southern California Wildfires, Chief of the Legislative Affairs Office and served as an Executive Duty Officer.


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In this episode we sit down with Andrew Lockman, Tulare County Emergency Manager. Lockman has been on the front line in the drought battle, with California now enduring its 5th year. Tulare County, specifically the town of East Porterville, is considered the epicenter of this natural disaster; it's where several thousand people have been without drinking water in their homes because their wells went dry. Emergency officials from the county and state, as well as non-governmental and volunteer organizations and individuals, have all been working to bring relief and solutions as quickly as possible. But it wasn't until things got to this point that it was recognized as a disaster; it slowly sneaked up on everyone. And droughts weren't in disaster plans so emergency managers had to wing it; they had no playbook to which they could refer. Lockman tells about the incredible challenges he and others faced to help the residents now, and the lessons learned and changes being made for future droughts. 

Drought Resources

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

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