By Sgt. Gregory Solman
RSC-S Public Affairs
Capt. Frank Quiambao sees a future for CSMR. “My vision is that the State Military Reserve would participate actively in preparedness and emergency response,” he says. “CSMR would be plugged in to the plans. I’m making a pro-active attempt to do it.”
As lines of authority run, Quiambao might be just the man to accomplish that mission. A special advisor to the Secretary for the California Emergency Management Agency (often called “Cal EMA”), the Regional Emergency Operations Center is located in an inauspicious trailer on the east side of the Joint Forces Training Base, an office Quiambao hopes he’ll never have to use—because it would typically mean something bad has happened.
Quiambao explains that the Emergency Management Agency, new in 2009, grew out of combining the authority of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and state-level Homeland Security, wherein each state presents an advisor to the Federal agency.
Functions of Cal EMA include information analysis watch and warning division, which in theory would meld communications among California Highway Patrol, the California Department of Justice, and other federal and state public safety organizations with Homeland Security, through the California State Threat Assessment System; a law enforcement and victim services division, which includes coordination of search-and-rescue; a preparedness branch responsible for implementing the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS), among other tasks; a hazard mitigation branch; and a training division, set up to educate first responders; and an earthquake and tsunami program.
“We need to get the CSMR to train up to perform certain functions,” Quiambao says. “Those specific functions could range from HAZMAT to swift-water rescue.
He added; “If CSMR personnel were to train up to perform a specific duty like that, they could be put into the threat-matrix system, identified, and deployed.”
Other far -anging duties SMR soldiers could perform include SAR, assisting local law enforcement in road blocks, staffing Incident Command centers, driving trucks that require special licenses. “We must identify the gaps and train our guys to fill them.”
Quiambo, now in his seventh year with the agency and his 10th year in CSMR, was appointed a Special Advisor to the Secretary when EMA went from a department to an agency. He says that CSMR can have a uniquely important position in this matrix because in many respect reservists are “better trained than most National Guard units” in emergency response because that’s a relatively small part of the Guardsman’s warrior training.
Formerly a special assistant to the director of the Governor’s office of Homeland Security, Quiambo used to deliver highly specialized lectures such as “Conversation on the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) and Critical Infrastructure Protection” at university conferences. He once headed up counter-terrorism at Los Angeles International Airport and in 2007 traveled to Israel to learn two-bomb-dog deployment techniques.
Now various agencies are taking what Quiambo calls an “all-hazards approach,” with many duties “starting to overlap.”
“We are tasked with preventing and preparing for all natural disasters,” says Quiambo relates, who reports to Mike Dayton, the Acting Secretary of Cal EMA. The Regional Emergency Ops Center is crucial to coordinating disaster response when more than one county is involved. Various outreach programs involve unnatural disasters, helping both public and private entities protect their critical infrastructure by providing training for their staffs in basic anti-terrorism, soft-target awareness, surveillance detection (counter detection), and bomb-making material awareness.
“We’re looking for gaps in company’s security plans, and constantly looking for new technology, systems and ideas,” Quiambo says. “Unfortunately, the longer we go without a [terrorist] attack, the more people take their eye off the ball.”