Sonoma County leaders analyze response to North Bay Fires

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors held a meeting Tuesday to discuss the State OES report analyzing firestorm response by agencies and systems.

"All my life I have placed my faith in the professionals," said Supervisor Susan Gorin. "And to tell you I am horribly disappointed is an understatement."

Gorin was speaking about North Bay Wildfires that decimated, not only her district, but the region. Now, an effort to make certain Sonoma County never suffers such a disaster, again.

RELATED: Legislative firefight erupts in wake of North Bay fires

On Tuesday the board held a fact-finding session in response to a report from the State Office of Emergency Services criticizing Sonoma County's handling of the disaster. The report found a lack of coordination among safety agencies and first responders.

Aaron Abbott, the executive director of REDCOM, the fire and EMS dispatch center, expressed his frustration. ABC7 asked him, "If another disaster like that happened tonight, would county be better able to respond?" "I don't think so. Not right now," he said.

Sonoma County asked the state for its report, which says 911 dispatchers and first responders did not have all the facts they needed to help people because the managers above them, making decisions, never had a central platform for processing information. It says they lacked situational awareness.

Nor were emergency agencies allowed to use a county-wide, Amber alert style warning system called IPAWS.

RELATED: State OES report says Sonoma Co. firestorm emergency response could have been better

"Not one person received an alert! What are we doing here?" asked Supervisor Gorin.

The Sheriffs Department did send reverse 911 calls and Nixles. Now, the county is talking about adding fire cameras, sirens, and upgrading the system. In a broader scope, Sonoma County's emergency response system has much in common with others in California.

"Just because we are in the same middle of the class with 40 or 50 other counties is not acceptable," said Board Chair James Gore.

Click here for more stories, photos, and video on the North Bay fires.

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