Category Archives: Uncategorized

Storm Preparedness & Safety Tips

Wet weather is in store for the Bay Area through the evening. It’s important to know what to do to be safe and prepared in the event this healthy dose of rain causes any hazardous situations. Here’s a run-down of the basics to storm prep and safety:

  • Check your supplies and make sure you have what you need on hand:
  • Check on friends and family who may need assistance during the storm.
  • Remove debris and sweep up any leaves from sidewalks and storm drains to keep them from getting clogged.
  • Call 3-1-1 (or use the SF311 app) for non-life threatening storm issues. Call 9-1-1 for emergencies:
  • Sign up for AlertSF by texting your Zip Code to 888-777 for real-time emergency alerts.
  • Sandbags are available at 2323 Cesar Chavez St, daily, from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
  • If the power goes out, unplug and turnoff appliances. Leave one light on to signal when power is restored.
  • Avoid using candles because they are a fire hazard, especially in San Francisco due to so many wood buildings.
  • Have flashlights and extra batteries on hand.
  • Stay away from flooded areas and downed power lines whether in car or on foot.
  • Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
  • Stay informed: tune-in to KCBS (740 AM or 106.9 FM), local TV channels, or social media (@sf_emergency; @sfwater; @sfpublicworks; @sfdph ) for emergency advisories and instructions.
  • Please share this information with your family and friends.

DEM Recognized for UPS Active Shooter Incident Emergency Response

On the morning of June 14th tragedy struck our City. A senseless act of gun violence stole three people from their families and our community. We all have some connection with the women and men of UPS who have become part of our everyday lives while dutifully delivering packages in their trademark brown uniforms. This tragedy has left us all mourning the loss of San Francicos’  UPS delivery drivers Wayne Chan, Benson Louie, and Michael Lefti.  Yet, we find comfort that further tragedy was prevented by the prompt and professional actions of our public safety community.


Today, Mayor Ed Lee recognized those who responded to the UPS shooting, including two DEM employees: Anastacia (Staci) Byrne, the DEM Public Safety Dispatcher who received the initial 9-1-1 call; and Tom Chin, the DEM Emergency Services Coordinator who immediately activated the Emergency Operations Center to support the overall emergency response.  Although not on-scene, Staci and Tom made sure those ‘on the ground’ had the situational awareness and resources needed to effectively respond to this dire and dangerous situation while fulfilling the following vital emergency response roles:

It was Anastacia (Staci) Byrne who received the initial emergency call from frightened UPS employees reporting an active shooter in the UPS facility on San Bruno Avenue. The employees were huddled in a conference room and unsure of what to do. Staci quickly told them to barricade themselves in the conference room. As she remained on the phone—all the while providing instruction and updates— the UPS employees and Staci became a team. The employees shared information about the building’s layout that helped police and fire responders navigate on-scene.  Staci stayed on the line until police units were able to safely evacuate the employees from the building.

Tom Chin immediately activated San Francisco’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) within minutes of receiving notice of an active shooter event. The EOC’s role was to provide support to first responders and services to people affected by the active shooter incident. As a result of his efforts, San Francisco was able to coordinate efforts to track shooting victims, provide family and mental health resources, and disseminate safety alerts to the public. In the days following the event, Tom coordinated and facilitated daily incident management calls to ensure UPS employees received the assistance they needed to recover from this tragedy.

More about Anastacia (Staci) Byrne:

Staci has been a Public Safety Dispatcher with the Department of Emergency Management for 12 years. She moved to San Francisco as a small child, was raised Visitacion Valley, and graduated from Mercy High School. Her father is a retired Army Officer who dedicated his life to serving his country, so it comes as no surprise that Staci has chosen to serve the citizens, visitors, and public safety partners of San Francisco. Staci was a chef before becoming a Public Safety Dispatcher (experience that really enhances DEM pot lucks!). She was encouraged to become a police officer, but chose to be a 9-1-1 Dispatcher instead. 

More about Thomas Chin:

Tom has been an Emergency Services Coordinator with the Department of Emergency Management for four years. In his current role, he manages the development of emergency plans and also staffs the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during planned and unplanned events. Prior to joining the department, Tom worked for Santa Clara County Public Health providing emergency preparedness and public health education services. Tom earned his Bachelor of Sciences in Public Health from San Francisco State University. Tom and his family have deep roots in San Francisco’s Excelsior neighborhood. He is a lifelong Bay Area sports fan and actively cheers on the Giants, Warriors, and 49ers. Tom and his wife, Raine, reside in San José.

Who Handles Information During a Disaster?

As emergency managers we are tasked with preparing for large incidents, responding to them and helping our communities recover after they occur. More specifically, as Public Information Officers (PIOs or public affairs personnel) we are the handlers of information that flows in and out of our Emergency Operations Center (EOC). We often are charged with receiving and vetting information, creating messaging and making sure crucial information gets to our communities. Information might include where emergency shelters are, evacuation orders or where you can find potable water and food.


We have a saying in emergency management, “never exchange business cards during a disaster.” To ensure that doesn’t happen, we brought together local and state PIOs to discuss how we develop and share information with the public during an emergency. In San Francisco, we coordinate this through Emergency Support Function #15: the Joint Information System (JIS) plan. The JIS provides a framework for how we’ll communicate with our partners and the public in the City after an emergency.


We not only wanted to discuss how we’d work together within this framework, but we also wanted to learn about each other’s capabilities and resources. It’s important to get an idea of what we can really expect from one another in an emergency. This workshop was the first in a series leading up to our annual Fleet Week disaster response exercise that we conduct with the local first responders, state and federal emergency officials, and the military. This year we’ll review how to setup Field Care Clinics, request mutual aid from the state and work with federal capabilities and assets following M 7.9 earthquake on the San Andreas Fault.


2016 Dispatcher of the Year!

San Francisco’s 9-1-1 dispatchers selected Janet Atchan as the 2016 Dispatcher of the Year.  Janet coordinated the emergency response to the shooting of San Francisco Police Officer Kevin Downs by a fleeing suspect. In addition to the award, Janet received a commendation from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Group Chambers

“Janet Atchan is a deeply committed and caring 9-1-1 dispatcher. When a police officer’s life was on the line she worked diligently to get him the help he needed while making sure resources were in place to keep fellow responders and the public safe,” said Anne Kronenberg, Executive Director, San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (SFDEM). “We see Janet’s example every day when our talented team of dispatchers take calls or coordinate emergency resources.”

Dispatch Onlookers

On the evening of October 14, 2016, San Francisco’s 9-1-1 dispatchers received calls from the public about a man acting erratically in the Lakeshore Plaza Shopping Center on Sloat Avenue in San Francisco. Janet Atchan was serving as a radio dispatcher at the time and it was her responsibility to maintain contact with police officers once they exited their vehicle. The officers communicated they had arrived and located the person of interest. Minutes had passed before Janet heard one of the worst things any emergency responder could hear over the radio “Officer Down, Shots Fired”. Between the officers’ arrival and the radio transmission, the suspect ran away from officers and shot at them striking Officer Downs in the head.

Janet immediately sent additional police officers and emergency medical services to assist Officer Downs. Her responsibilities included setting up a police escort for the ambulance as it made its way to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Janet then joined her partner, Dispatcher David Solis, in establishing a perimeter to contain the suspect as officers searched for the armed suspect in the surrounding neighborhoods. The suspect was apprehended after exchanging gun fire with police officers near Stern Grove in San Francisco’s Sunset District. By the time the incident ended Dispatcher Atchan had stood her post well beyond the hours of her shift.

Dispatch Floor

The Dispatcher of the Year is elected by their fellow dispatchers for extraordinary performance while answering 9-1-1 calls or dispatching emergency services. Janet shares this honor with her fellow dispatchers who provide vital ongoing support, which is indispensable to the entire San Francisco dispatchers team during crucial calls.

Chief Scott

Janet Atchan is a fourth-generation San Franciscan and was raised in San Francisco’s Fillmore neighborhood. She’s spent the last 25-years serving as a 9-1-1 professional. During her career, Janet earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology from UC Berkeley and her MBA from the University of San Francisco.

Dispatch Group

San Francisco receives more than 1.2 million emergency and non-emergency calls annually.  9-1-1 professionals dispatch police, fire, and medical assistance to the scene of accidents, crimes, fires, and other emergency and non-emergency situations.  In addition to taking calls from the public, dispatchers act as the communications hub for emergency services and must quickly assess situations to determine the appropriate resources to dispatch, making them the San Francisco’s first, first responders.





San Francisco Department of Emergency Management Accepts New Applications for 9-1-1 Dispatchers

San Francisco Department of Emergency Management

Accepts New Applications for 9-1-1 Dispatchers

Applications accepted beginning Monday January 9, 2017



San Francisco, C.A. – The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management invites all interested and qualified persons to submit an application for the opportunity to become a Public Safety Communications (9-1-1) Dispatcher.  Dispatchers are the vital link between the public and police officers, firefighters, and medics during emergency situations. Interested persons may apply beginning Monday January 9, 2017.

“San Francisco’s 9-1-1 Dispatchers perform difficult and life-saving work to help people in emergency situations. This career requires a commitment to serving the community and the understanding that your work may involve personal sacrifice,” said Anne Kronenberg, Executive Director, San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (SFDEM). “This life is not for everyone. However, if you value public service you will find this career rewarding and we encourage you to apply.”

Dispatchers answer all emergency (9-1-1) and non-emergency (415-553-0123) calls in San Francisco. They also dispatch and coordinate police, fire, and emergency medical services over a two-way radio system using a computer aided dispatch system. This work is performed 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, 365 days-a-year. Dispatchers may be assigned to work various schedules, which include day shift, swing shift, night shift, weekends, holidays, and overtime. Dispatchers work 8-hour or 10-hour shifts, or longer, and must be willing and able to respond, report, and mobilize as necessary. The base salary for a Public Safety Communications Dispatcher begins at $81,558 annually.

Applicants must verify they meet the minimum qualifications and pass a performance and oral examination in order to be placed on the recruitment list for the Dispatch Academy. The minimum qualifications for a Public Safety Communications Dispatcher are two years of experience in a public contact position and possession of a High School Diploma, General Education Development (GED) or High School Proficiency Certification.

The performance exam measures an applicant’s ability to prioritize and multitask effectively in a fast-paced, high stress environment; recall facts, details and other pertinent information; and the ability to operate a computer terminal while typing at a minimum speed of 35 words per minute.

Those who pass the performance examination are invited to participate in a scenario-based oral examination. This exam tests oral and written communication skills, the ability to collect information and make sound decisions, aptitude to perform several tasks simultaneously, and interpersonal skills.

People who meet the minimum qualifications and pass both examinations are placed on the eligible list by rank. Candidates on this list must undergo extensive employment, character, and background investigations.  Candidates must also undergo a polygraph examination, psychological evaluation, and medical examination prior to appointment to the Dispatcher Academy.

“San Francisco has an extensive screening process to ensure that people have the basic skills, temperament, ability, and integrity for the opportunity to become a dispatcher,” said Sandy Chan, Human Resources Manager, SFDEM. “It can take up to nine months to effectively screen applicants. For this eligible list the earliest a candidate could be appointed to the academy is September 2017.”

Prospective dispatchers must complete the eight week Police Officers Standards and Training (POST) Academy for public safety dispatchers where they must display mastery of subjects including police, fire, and medical procedures, radio codes, and geography of San Francisco. Upon graduation from the academy, dispatch trainees receive on-the-job training first by answering live 9-1-1 calls and then dispatching police, fire, and medical services. This training takes place under the watchful eye of a veteran dispatcher and may last up to nine months. It is during this phase of training when most trainees drop out or are released by SFDEM.

“People quickly realize they are dealing with real life while taking actual emergency calls and start sending first responders to an emergency,” said Robert Smuts, Deputy Director for Emergency Communications (9-1-1), SFDEM. “Becoming a dispatcher is a rigorous process designed to ensure you have the skills and emotional intelligence to help people on their worst days.”

To learn more about how to apply to become a Public Safety Dispatcher, visit


Tips on the Application Processes

·         Be honest with yourself before you apply. Being a San Francisco Public Safety Communications Dispatcher is a rewarding career for those with a genuine passion for public service. Applicants should know a dispatcher’s work is demanding and difficult. Most junior dispatchers work nights, weekends, and holidays and this may continue well into your career. You may also be called upon to work overtime or come in your days off due to an emergency.

·         Applications for City and County of San Francisco jobs are only accepted through an online process. Visit to register an account (if you have not already done so) and begin the application process.

·         For those without online access at home, computers are available to the public to file online applications 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday in the lobby of the Dept. of Human Resources at 1 South Van Ness Avenue, 4th Floor, San Francisco.


The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (DEM) leads the City in planning, preparedness, communication, response, and recovery for daily emergencies, large scale citywide events, and major disasters. DEM is the vital link in emergency communication between the public and first responders, and provides key coordination and leadership to City departments, stakeholders, residents, and visitors. For more information visit

About 9-1-1

San Francisco receives more than 1.2 million emergency and non-emergency calls per year or an average of more than 3,400 per day. Since 2011, San Francisco has experienced a 37 percent increase in call volume with dispatchers answering 1,000 more calls a day than they did five years ago.

The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (SFDEM) is committed to increasing the number of 9-1-1 professionals answering calls and dispatching emergency services. In Fiscal Year 2013-2014, the Department of Emergency Management began a hiring initiative to keep pace with increased call volume. Last year, we hired 23 new Public Safety Communications Dispatchers.

9-1-1 Telephone System Upgrade

This is an exciting time for DEM, this week we are upgrading our entire 9-1-1 telephone system! After 16 years, our old telephone and trunk system is well beyond its useful life. Not only is the phone system outdated, the current system has limited technical support and much of its replacement parts are no longer available. Can you imagine using the same phone today that you had in 2000? Cell phone or landline, technology has far surpassed the abilities of the system we’ve been waiting to retire.

911 Dispatcher answering a call

Dispatchers are trained to pull and assess information from a caller so the right level of help can be sent quickly.

Why is the 9-1-1 telephone cutover important?

Hopefully you’ve never had to call 9-1-1, but if you did I bet you’d hope that the phones were up and running! Not only is the new system more reliable, it prepares San Francisco for Next Generation 9-1-1 once the State of California Office of Emergency Services finalizes their roadmap for migration.

Next Generation 9-1-1 allows the 9-1-1 system to keep up with communications technologies used by the public. For instance, how do you communicate these days with friends and family? Do you like to text? Do you ever send videos? Maybe you prefer sending pictures. Next Generation 9-1-1 will allow us to accept emergency calls, videos, texts and pictures. Having this capability within the new 9-1-1 telephone system ensures that we’ll be able to keep up with the people that are the most important to us, you!

911 Dispatchers answering phones

Call 9-1-1 to receive help for emergencies, potential emergencies, or if you are not sure if it’s an emergency.

What have we done to get ready for the upgrade?

Ensuring that the 9-1-1 system is available for anyone that needs it in San Francisco is our top priority. This is why we have conducted extensive testing since the beginning of the summer. This is also why we’ve made sure that extra personnel and resources will be available to manage the transition. This includes technical support staff and additional dispatchers to manage emergency calls should the need arise. If an issue develops that may potentially impact public safety, contingency plans are in place to ensure that the 9-1-1 system remains online. Our contingency plans may include reverting back to the old system or using our backup 9-1-1 telephone system.

15677__6939LR ©Michael Mustacchi

What can people expect when they call 9-1-1?

The first set of 9-1-1 callers may experience a brief echo at the beginning of calls as the phones calibrate to the new system. However, after that people calling 9-1-1, the dispatchers answering phones, and police officers, fire fighters, and medics responding should not notice any difference during or after the 9-1-1 telephone system upgrade.
The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management coordinates the response to everyday and not-so-everyday emergencies. Our 9-1-1 public safety dispatchers answer the phone and send help when there is a police, fire, or medical emergency. The 9-1-1 system is the critical lifeline between the public and city’s first responders.





Emergency Management Mutual Aid Requests: Soberanes and Lake County Fire Deployments


The 2016 California Wildfire season has seen more than 6,700 fires which have burned more than 560,000 acres. For many people, this means the loss of a home, property, or livelihood. As local emergency managers, it’s our responsibility to not only coordinate the response but to help our communities recover. In Monterey and Lake Counties local emergency managers were there for their communities but were often left wondering if their own homes had made it through. When we had the opportunity to provide them some relief so that they could check on their homes, our team was happy to lend a hand. This year we sent staff to both Monterey County for the Soberanes Fire and Lake County to assist in the Clayton Fire response and recovery efforts.

What triggers a staff deployment? The State of California issues an Emergency Management Mutual Aid request (EMMA). When a city or county has exhausted all of their resources (staff and assets) to respond to an emergency, they ask the State to reach out to the closest neighboring cities and counties for aid, be it fire trucks or staff.

Lisa Starliper, our Emergency Planning Manager and Tom Chin, our Response Coordinator had the opportunity to deploy to the Soberanes Fire in Monterey County. Additionally, Daniella Cohen with our External Affairs team assisted in Lake County for the Clayton Fire response. Here are some of Lisa’s and Daniella’s reflections on their experiences, with photos shared by Tom.


CalFIRE Air Operations conducted behind Tularcitos Elementary School. In partnership with the Monterey County Office of Emergency Services, CalFIRE held a community meeting at Tularcitos to provide information and answer questions for the residents of Carmel Valley.

1. Can you share with us what you know about the EMMA process?

Lisa: My basic understanding was that whenever another city or county needed assistance, a resource request would be initiated. Following, our department would ask for volunteers to support the request.  The Operations Section within SFDEM has the “lead” on managing and monitoring EMMA requests. They work to put forward the name and qualifications of any employees that are capable and available to do the work required.

Daniella: The Operations Section within SFDEM manages the EMMA requests. Lake County Office of Emergency Services (OES) needed a Public Information Officer and someone to otherwise deal with press inquiries and public information in their Local Assistance Center (LAC). As a member of the External Affairs team at SFDEM, I jumped at the opportunity to assist our partners in anyway.

2. Please share what you knew about the fire going in and what you learned as you gained more situational awareness.

Lisa: I was aware of the basic information about the fire that was available from public domains. I also had access to daily situation reports, which provided a more in-depth analysis of the current situation.

Once I was actually working in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), I was able to increase my situational awareness through attendance at briefings and meetings.  I also was able to work directly with members from Public Health regarding disaster assessment team deployments and debris management.  This experience was extremely helpful in gaining a greater understanding around the issues of recovery.

Daniella: Going in I would agree with Lisa in that you can expect to be briefed with basic information about the incident upfront. I was also lucky to receive daily situation reports from Lake County OES which helped me to better understand not only what was needed, but also what would be expected of me once I arrived.

After I arrived, I realized that we were operating in the field in the middle of downtown Clear Lake where fire damage was clearly seen all around us. My experience thus far has been working inside of an EOC. It was truly humbling to be able to assist community members in this environment.


CalFIRE held multiple community meetings in the days, weeks, and months after the start of the Soberanes Fire in Monterey County. Community meetings were held in partnership with the Monterey County Office of Emergency Services and included fire suppression and behavior experts to explain the tactics and science behind the firefighting efforts.

3. What is expected of you when you deploy?

Lisa: I believe my role is to be as supportive, helpful and respectful as possible. Being a solid representative of my department and the City and County of San Francisco is just as important. On the more tangible side of things, there’s an expectation of long work hours and alternative living conditions.

Daniella: I completely agree with Lisa, you are there to provide support and to be of complete disposal to local emergency managers. It presents an opportunity to not only be of service, but to learn from others around you.

4. What was it like when you first walked into Monterey County’s EOC or the Local Assistance Center (LAC) in Lake County?

Lisa: For me, it was a very positive experience. Tom Chin had done an excellent job of laying the foundation for my arrival, which made the transition from “newbie” to EOC staff member much easier.  Monterey County’s EOC had a very professional atmosphere to it, which helped smooth the transition as well.

Daniella: The LAC is a hub for fire victims to seek services, initially upon my arrival the LAC was just opening for the day and naturally it was a bit overwhelming. As time wore on, a rhythm was found not only for LAC staff but for community members as well. Facing fire victims as they try to recover from enormous loss is difficult, but it was also heartwarming to see how communities band together in times of disaster.


Every morning a CalFIRE led Partner Brief provided a common operating picture among the 20 + participating agencies including the Monterey County Office of Emergency Services, US Forestry, US Fish and Wildlife, mutual aid fire agencies, California Highway Patrol, California State Parks, and the California Conservation Corps. The Partner Brief detailed the progress made overnight and the clear objectives for the upcoming day.

5. How did your roles develop, and what were your greatest lessons learned or takeaways from the experience?

Lisa: My role remained pretty constant during my time there. I was filling a technical specialist role within the Plans Section and worked on the Concept of Operations for Debris Management and Damage Assessments.

For myself, the greatest lesson learned was to see firsthand the response and recovery considerations that were required for a wildfire incident. My emergency management experience has primarily focused on terrorism, being a first responder and maritime search and rescue. All in all, it was a fantastic experience.

Daniella: Like Lisa, my role remained the same. I acted as a Public Information Officer while also providing community affairs assistance. The greatest lesson learned for me is that the field of emergency management and disaster response knows no boundaries. Regardless of jurisdiction, or city and county lines we are here to assist each other. Often times it is that team work that yields the best results, and helps communities to heal faster. I felt lucky to offer a small bit of assistance to our partners.


Eventually, the coordination to fight a fire as large as the Soberanes Fire needs technology to be efficient. A televised morning Incident Brief provided instruction to over 350 firefighting units, fire air operations, and fire safety in three (3) different locations. This Incident Brief provided a united tactical advantage to conduct safe and effective fire suppression.

Thank you to both Lisa Starliper, Daniella Cohen and Tom Chin for representing SFDEM in Monterey and Lake Counties, and assisting in their response and recovery efforts.

What on Earth is a C-POD?

On October 3rd, the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management conducted our annual disaster exercise with San Francisco Fleet Week. This year the focus was on C-PODs, otherwise known as Community Points of Distribution.C-PODS are temporary locations where the public can go to get basic necessities, such as food and water, when everyday resources are not available due to a major emergency or disaster.

The goal of a C-POD is to prevent human tragedy after a disaster. Last Monday, we practiced setting up an entire C-POD site with over 100 staff and disaster survivor volunteers. The scenario was a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, and the aftermath left residents incapable of supplying food and water for themselves. A C-POD is a last measure resort, and one that we hope to never utilize. However, if we do, we’ve received some much needed practice. Enjoy our photo blog below:


C-PODs ensure people have the basic necessities for daily nutrition and hydration, which help people to continue staying in their homes rather than having to stay at shelter sites.


C-POD Manager Bijan Karimi explains the logistical setup and goal of C-POD sites with the press.


Our partners the United States military, the San Francisco Human Services Agency and CalFire brief our staff and volunteers on the main objective behind today’s C-POD exercise: distribution and efficiency.


Military partners look on and give direction to fellow National Guard soldiers participating in the exercise.


When C-POD sites become necessary we may lean on our military partners such as the National Guard, the US Navy or the US Coast Guard to bring emergency supplies via sea to the shores of San Francisco. They would essentially act as an extension of local emergency management personnel and expand our capacity to assist our community.


Disaster service volunteers work with our military partners to offload supplies and organize them into different PODS.


After supplies are offloaded and organized, they are put directly into the trunks of vehicles; maximizing time and efficiency to allow the service of up to 10,000 vehicles per day.

Our biggest lesson learned from our annual exercise was that we could effectively and efficiently work with our partners to setup a Community Point of Distribution following a catastrophic emergency.

Check out the sights and sounds of a C-POD:

Than you to all of our staff, volunteers and participating agencies for your support and participation in this year’s exercise.

From Napa to Italy

Today is the anniversary of the 2014 Napa Earthquake, and as per our custom to use relevant disasters as reminders to get prepared for them, we were going to post a blog about the most significant earthquake to have occurred in the Bay Area since the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. But our plan changed in light of what happened in Italy. Just last night a powerful 6.2 Magnitude earthquake epicentered in Amatrice, Italy caused nearly 200 fatalities and immeasurable destruction. 

Seeing the devastation Italy is experiencing today (and will for quite a while) is chilling, tragic, and heartbreaking. It’s only natural to think about the ‘what-ifs’ when it comes to a significant earthquake happening here at home, only to push those dark scenarios out of our heads and move on to the next most pressing to do. We are here to tell you it is okay to set those scary thoughts aside; but please don’t stop there. Do something constructive, productive, and proactive when it comes to being prepared for an emergency. Take stock of your supplies (and add to it if you can). Talk about your emergency plan with your family. Ask your neighbors what you all could do to respond and recover–together. Get creative. Keep it simple. Do what feels right for you and yours. It will feel good knowing what you have done before the earthquake will make a huge difference in the aftermath.

Please visit to learn how to be prepared for just about any emergency.  And as we take some time now to get prepared our thoughts, hearts, and prayers go out to Italy.

DEM Quarterly Review

This DEM Quarterly Review captures DEM’s spring seasonal highlights–which was a very busy several months that included  special recognitions, commemorations, and graduations. 


National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week: Honoring Our First, First Responders

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is an opportunity to highlight their outstanding work. Although every dispatcher is honored during this week, we take this opportunity to recognize stellar performance through the following awards:

Dispatcher of the Year

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Supervisor Eric Mar (far left) presented Natalie (center), a resident of his District, with the Dispatcher of the Year Award. 

Natalie Elicetche was recognized as Dispatcher of the Year for fielding a call from a San Francisco resident who reported the possibility of multiple murders in Tennessee. Natalie contacted local authorities in Tennessee which led to the arrest of the murder suspect. This was an incredibly complex situation, yet through it all Natalie exhibited compassion, strength and initiative which resulted in justice for the victims of this horrendous crime.

Toni Hardley Award

16286 DEM - Toni Hardley Award  - Janice Baldocchi

Janice Balodocchi is this year’s recipient of the Toni Hardley Award for Excellence in Supervision–an award dedicated to the memory of Toni Hardley, a beloved supervisor of DEM who is remembered for her calm, cool, and collected nature. As one supervisor remembers her “She was the supervisor everyone aspired to be.” Janice was awarded for her outstanding commitment to leadership, guidance, and support to her staff.  She is revered on the 9-1-1 dispatch floor, and we commend her for her service to our dispatchers.

9-1-1 Heroes Awards

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The 9-1-1 Heroes Award gives us the opportunity to recognize children who called 9-1-1 for family members in peril, and the dispatchers who answered their calls. This year we honored Allessandra Esquivel and Janaia McKinley who called 9-1-1 for family members experiencing medical emergencies; and DEM Dispatchers Celia Velasquez and Burt Wilson who helped them to save their loved ones.

About the Calls:

Allessandra had to assist her non-English speaking parents when calling 9-1-1 because her baby brother was choking.  DEM Dispatcher Celia Velasquez assisted Allessandra by instructing her to perform CPR on her infant brother.

Janaia called 9-1-1 to report her grandmother’s heart attack.  DEM Dispatcher Burt Wilson directed Janaia until an ambulance and paramedics were on scene.


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DEM Dispacthers and 9-1-1 Heroes Awardees Burt Wilson and Celia Velasquez


A Morning of Ceremony, Community, & Connection

Every spring DEM joins our fellow San Franciscans to commemorate the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire that took place on April 18, 1906 at 5:12 a.m. The early morning setting is stepped in years of tradition with revelers dressed in turn-of-the-century attire. Through song, speech, and a little spray paint we reflect on what happened that morning many, many years ago; and we celebrate how San Francisco rose from the ashes to become the resilient and beautiful city it is today.

16294 DEM - 110th Anniv of the 1906 EQ Lotta's Fountain

The 1906 earthquake commemorations begins before dawn at Lotta’s Fountiain, where many San Franciscans gathered in the early morning of April 18, 1906 after the earthquake struck.

16295 DEM - 110th Anniv of the 1906 EQ 20th & Church

DEM personnel at Dolores Park where the ‘Golden Hydrant’ (one of the only working fire hydrants after the 1906 earthquake ) gets a customary fresh coat of gold spray paint every April  18th.  


San Francisco Emergency Services Week: Recognizing Paramedics, EMTs, and Hospital Providers


This May we celebrated our San Francisco paramedics, EMTs and hospital providers with various events during National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week. For the first time City Hall was lit in EMS colors, as San Francisco joined the ranks of other major cities like Boston and New York that light iconic city structures in the EMS colors during National EMS Week.


San Francisco City Hall lit in EMS colors.

We also honored our EMS community by hosting San Francisco’s EMS Day at Civic Center Plaza where ambulance service providers, EMTs and paramedics gathered to share apparatus displays and educational information with the public. San Francisco City College stole the show by exhibiting hands-only CPR skills and encouraging public participation.


San Francisco EMS Day on Civic Center Plaza.

Also a component of San Francisco’s EMS Week is the EMS Awards–annual awards program that recognizes outstanding emergency medical services delivered to San Francisco. The awardees are nominated by their peers for a variety of emergency medical services including: emergency medical dispatch; field medical response; hospital medical service; community service; and the Raymond Lim Excellence in EMS award.We were thrilled to see DEM’s very own Dawn Mahoney awarded with the EMS Dispatcher of the Year award.


L to R: Paul Henderson, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of Mayor Edwin M. Lee, Anne Kronenberg, Executive Director, SFDEM, Dawn Mahoney, Public Safety Dispatcher, EMS Dispatcher of the Year


Welcome Our Newest Dispatchers

Congratulations to the POST 51 Academy, DEM’s newest group of dispatcher recruits who graduated from academy training. We wish you the best of luck in the next phase of your journey to become one of San Francisco’s Public Safety Dispatchers!