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Public Health Minimize
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Emergency Preparedness

Public Employees Are Disaster Service Workers

As public employees, County of Santa Cruz employees are Disaster Service Workers (DSW).  Examples of emergencies for which County of Santa Cruz employees may be called upon to help as DSWs include fire, flood, earthquake, or public health emergencies. In an emergency, non-essential public employees may be released from their regular work duties and reassigned to assist the County in emergency response duties.  Employees acting as DSWs will be assigned duties within their scope of training, skill, and ability. 

Disaster Service Worker (DSW)​ responsibilities might include:

  • Registering people at a shelter or mass prophylaxis clinic.
  • Translating for non-English speaking individuals.
  • Acting as a messenger at a designated site.
  • Serving food to emergency staff or to vulnerable populations.
  • Answering phones.

DSW Training Opportunity: All DSWs are encouraged to take the FEMA Incident Command System (ICS) 100.c training. The training is available at no-cost and online at the FEMA Emergency Management Institute

Disaster service means all activities authorized by and carried out pursuant to the California Emergency Services Act* to aid in the response and recovery phases of a disaster or emergency, including approved and documented training necessary or proper to engage in such activities.

Many County employees are already identified and trained for emergency response in Health Services Agency Department Operations Centers (DOCs) or the County of Santa Cruz Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Some departments have specific disaster response duties that employees are trained to fulfill. Employees who do not have a specific disaster assignment, and have not received specific training, may be asked to perform general duties as assigned under the Disaster Service Worker Program.