Preparedness Academy Helps Businesses and Orgs Deal with Disasters and Their Aftermath

The American Red Cross and Edison International team up to help bring disaster preparedness workshops to schools, nonprofits and government agencies.

October 23, 2014 | By Caroline Aoyagi-Stom @SCE_CarolineA

If a magnitude-7.9 earthquake devastated Southern California tomorrow, would your organization or business be prepared to deal with the disastrous aftermath?

Approximately 800 attendees found their answers at the 30th annual American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Academy sponsored in part by Edison International and held recently at the Anaheim Convention Center.

“The American Red Cross has extensive experience and knowledge related to emergency preparedness and we sought to draw from that experience and the experts they would provide,” said Doug Hefley, Safety and Risk manager with the Eastern Municipal Water District, noting that they are currently revising their emergency response plan.

The Eastern Municipal Water District, whose area covers western Riverside County, was one of several organizations and businesses that took part in various exercises and workshops that provided information on earthquakes, terrorism, active shooter incidents, evacuations and drills. In the end, the water district learned several things they could implement to be better prepared.

Hefley found the lessons learned from the 2014 Oso, Wash., mudslide — a disaster which covered a one-square-mile area and killed 43 people — most helpful. He learned that partnering with community emergency responders before an incident is essential.

“These relationships ensure clearly defined roles and responsibilities which can immediately be implemented,” he said.

The water district also plans to include in their emergency response plan the need for employees to prepare before an emergency and how the district can assist them with that process.

The academy provided information on how to not only prepare for a disaster, but also how to respond and recover from them. The workshops were attended by emergency and continuity planners from large and small businesses, as well as government agencies, schools, universities, healthcare, nonprofits and faith-based organizations.

According to the American Red Cross, 15 to 40 percent of businesses fail following a natural or man-made disaster and close to 60 percent of Americans are unprepared for a disaster of any kind. The nonprofit also notes that 94 percent of small-business owners believe a disaster could seriously disrupt their business within the next two years.

Edison International’s sponsorship of the day-long Disaster Preparedness Academy is part of the Prepare SoCal initiative, a three-year, $1.5-million partnership with the American Red Cross to help build resilient communities that prevent, prepare for and can respond to disasters.

The Disaster Preparedness Academy provided an opportunity for the water district and other business customers of Southern California Edison (SCE), a subsidiary of Edison International, to attend and learn about disaster preparedness.

“At Edison International, being prepared for an emergency or disaster is part of what we do every day here,” said Tammy Tumbling, SCE director of Philanthropy and Community Investment. “We want our customers and the community to be strong and resilient to be able withstand large-scale emergencies. The academy was a perfect opportunity to bring disaster preparedness awareness to our service territory.”

Next year’s American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Academy will be held on Oct. 28, 2015, at the Anaheim Convention Center.

To request a free Red Cross preparedness education presentation, visit

Topics: Safety