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Golden Guardian Program Prepares Folks for Disaster Response and Recovery

Golden Guardian 2011 Logo
The Golden Guardian 2011 Program will prepare agency representatives for disaster response and recovery.

The Golden Guardian is an annual event that tests the responsiveness and readiness of a particular area of California for specific disasters. I thought it was the title of a feature film about everyone’s favorite pooch—the Golden Lab. I get it! They are so cute and furry and playful!

First implemented in 2004, The Golden Guardian is now an annual statewide exercise that tests government agencies, volunteer organizations and other entities. The Golden Guardian is the largest disaster planning event of its kind.The result of multiple agency cooperation, Golden Guardian plans are developed by FEMA Region IX and the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA), among others.

Each year, the Golden Guardian event has a certain theme which reflects on the risks of a potentially devastating natural or man-made disaster. For 2011, the theme was flooding for the inland region of the state.  The event brought together several agencies including the Inland Region Emergency Operations Center, the State Operations Center, federal agencies and partners in the private sector. From May 17th through the 19th, these agencies worked together to forecast the impact of a major flood and examine where responsibilities would lie for cleanup and evacuation as well as health and food assistance efforts.

The risk of a major flood is demonstrated by scientists who detailed the availability of an ARKstorm for inland California. This massive storm could potentially create a flooded area 300 miles long and up to 20 miles wide in the Central Valley of California.  Wow! That is bigger than a bunch of states! It would be the size of some of the Great Lakes.

The theme for 2012 is a major earthquake in Southern California. For 2013, the theme is a catastrophic earthquake in the Bay Area, for 2014, it is Northwest Coast earthquake and tsunami risks, and in 2015, the theme is civil disturbance.

I have a breakdown of my own personal potential disasters that I will be planning for in the coming years:

  • 2012 – Managing a pig ear shortage, including stockpiling tips and grief counseling
  • 2013 – Tips and tactics for enduring bath time
  • 2014 – How to alert people through barking that Timmy is caught on the railroad tracks again (Sorry, Lassie.)

The 2012 Golden Guardian event is intended to open discussion about the entire scope of disaster response—from evacuation routes to shelters for domestic animals. A comprehensive review of readiness, the 2012 event will cover such issues as:

  • Protocols for airlifting supplies, including the establishment of offshore Naval resupply ships, if necessary. I could use a good airlift drop in the backyard—14 tubes of tennis balls, 79 pounds of beef strips…throw in an old shoe to chew on!
  • A review of the “Hub and Spoke” concept of focusing assistance efforts on areas where affected individuals will congregate, such as stadiums, schools and open areas
  • Stabilization of public utilities in order to support infrastructure for critical care facilities like pet food factories
  • Management of public information announcements such as traffic guidelines or water safety alerts that will help citizens manage the disaster
  • Estimation about the number of fires resulting from earthquakes and also calculations about the water and personnel needed to combat the fires.

Preparation and knowledge are always critical for handling emergencies with speed and sound decision-making. Thorough planning helps to uncover unforeseen circumstances and close gaps in safety, logistics and recovery efforts. There are many lessons to be learned from the Golden Guardian campaign that can be applied to individuals as well as business. The first is the benefits of cooperation and the power of groups who work together to achieve goals.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit for more information and remember to BE SAFE.