operations for displaced families and the media after the June 1
"She used just the right tone to keep people calm and make them
feel secure and in safe hands," Mayor Elizabeth Pearson-Schneider
said. "It is critical in a disaster to keep cool heads. She was the
professional face of the disaster and my role model."
For many, Pearson-Schneider became the hero of the landslide,
visible and vocal in support of the shaken and often distraught
Nominally, the mayor and the City Council head the chain of
command in a disaster. Next in line is the city manager, who is
designated as emergency services director.
Practically speaking, however, the city's police and fire chiefs
are more likely to be the field leaders, according to Adams, who
serves as commander of the emergency operations center, which is
mobilized as needed.
"In a huge natural disaster, the fire department will head the
command center, and in a large criminal incident -- such as a hostage
situation -- the police will head the command center," Adams said.
The series of disasters in the 1990s -- fire, floods, mudslides --
gave the city emergency personnel on-the-job-training.
"The fact that we lost no lives in the 1993 fire and the landslide
this year is amazing," Frank said.
But Police Chief James Spreine is haunted by the two lives lost in
the 1998 Laguna Canyon mudslides.
The first goal of emergency personnel is to save lives, according
to Fire Chief Mike Macey.
"We work together with the police department as a team in a
disaster," Macey said.
The Fire Department holds monthly training sessions and recently
hosted seven neighborhood educational meetings to prepare residents
Resident participation in the meetings was minimal. The department
sent out 3,000 notices, but only four or five people attended each of
the meetings, Frank told the City Council Tuesday.
This month safety drills are being held at Laguna Beach schools to
prepare students for safe evacuation in a disaster.
Training and updating information is constant, Adams said.