Office of Emergency Services

Humboldt Operational Area
The Humboldt Operational Area includes the entirety of the County and its cities, towns, and special districts, in coordination with independent tribes. The Sheriff is designated Director of Emergency Services for the Operational Area by local ordinance. The County Office of Emergency Services (OES) coordinates and participates in emergency planning, response, and recovery under the direction of Sheriff Mike Downey and in collaboration with local, state, and federal partners.  

Emergency Management Structure
The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services is the primary local coordination agency for emergencies and disasters affecting residents, public infrastructure, and government operations in the County. When the County’s needs exceed the coordinated capacity of local response agencies, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is available to provide additional resources. When local and state resources are insufficient during a catastrophic disaster, the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may be requested to supplement available state resources, primarily during post-incident recovery.

Emergency and Disaster Declarations
A Local Emergency affecting the County of Humboldt may be proclaimed by the Board of Supervisors or the Sheriff (or their designee) when hazardous conditions cause significant damages or pose an imminent threat to people, property, and/or the environment. Proclaiming a Local Emergency can provide the County a pathway to additional resources. Tribes and incorporated cities may independently proclaim local emergencies, while County proclamations include all cities, regions, and special districts within the Operational Area.

State-level emergency declarations include a governor's proclamation of a State of Emergency, governor's executive orders, and the Cal OES director's concurrence with an operational area's emergency proclamation. The state Emergency Services Act and the California Disaster Assistance Act direct emergency response and recovery policy and operations in California. State financial disaster assistance may be provided at the discretion of the governor.

Federal disaster declarations are requested by the governor, granted by the president, and reserved for catastrophic events. A presidential declaration of an Emergency or of a Major Disaster provides access to federal resources for individuals, businesses, and public agencies.

Emergency Operations Center
The Humboldt County OES manages emergency response from the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), using the Incident Command System (ICS). The state Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS), and the federal National Incident Management System (NIMS) and National Response Framework (NRF) establish common operating procedures, best practices, and a “whole community” approach to disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation. Emergency managers are very fond of acronyms.