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How ORISE is Making a Difference

ORISE helps California Prepare for Emergencies as Golden Guardian Lead Planner

Spanning more than 160,000 square miles that include some of the United States’ most diverse terrains and more than 37,000,000 people, California is at risk for earthquakes, floods, fires, civil unrest, heat waves and freezes, industrial accidents, and the threat of terrorist activity. The Golden Guardian series of statewide exercises, implemented in 2004, is designed to make sure the state is ready to respond to and recover from any disaster.

Challenged with the variety of potential disaster scenarios and complex coordination between many local, regional, state and federal agencies, the California Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, now known as the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), named ORISE the lead planner for the Golden Guardian exercise series in 2004. ORISE conducted the first Golden Guardian in 2005 and continues to work with more than 1,000 cities, 58 counties, and 35 state, federal and private organizations to coordinate the largest statewide exercise series in the country. In addition to Golden Guardian, ORISE is working with CalOES’ training division to bring a variety of training opportunities to more than 150,000 first responders.

ORISE follows FEMA’s Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) national standard and uses an all-hazards approach for Golden Guardian and other support provided to the State of California. For each of the six exercises since 2005, the ORISE team of planners had critical roles in communications, public affairs, operations, logistics and simulation cell training sessions.

Golden Guardian 2011 tested California’s ability and process in responding to and recovering from a catastrophic flood in the Inland Region, as pictured here. The exercise included more than 5,000 participants from agencies ranging from the local to federal levels. The three-day event included a full-scale exercise as well as more than 20 seminars, tabletop exercises and simulation cell training sessions. Emergency plans for the 18 participating Operational Areas, or counties, were tested. In coordination with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, current California State Emergency Plan functions were assessed, including communications, management, public information, care and shelter, and evacuation and recovery.

Previous exercises have tested response to threats including a port security breach, widespread terrorist attacks and natural disasters in various parts of the state. CalOES works with ORISE through the U.S. Department of Energy’s ORISE contract Work for Others program.