The regional headquarters of the state Office of Emergency Services will shift from Los Angeles to the Los Alamitos Armed Forces Reserve Center on Saturday in a move that officials said will better protect Orange County and much of Southern California in the event of catastrophe.
The reserve center will serve as the coordination center in any major emergency but will place special emphasis on preparing for a catastrophic earthquake, said Richard Andrews, chief deputy director of the Office of Emergency Services.
Previously, the emergency agency's plan had called for staff members from downtown Los Angeles to go to Los Alamitos after a major quake to set up emergency operations, Andrews said.
"It was logistically inconvenient to be (in Los Angeles)," he said. "During a disaster . . . it would be extremely difficult to get out. This move means we will have a much more rapid start-up time."
Gardner Davis, regional manager for the Office of Emergency Services, said the move was decided because at Los Alamitos, "we can expand as needed because of all the land available. We also will have free, convenient access to an airport, (and) based on our assumptions, it is ideal to have immediate access to airport facilities."
During a catastrophe, the coordination center would receive requests from local governments for the extra resources or personnel.
"It would be our job to act as the 'middleman' during a disaster," Davis said.
In an emergency, a communications center would dispatch medical personnel, building engineers, firefighters, rescue workers and people to assist in finding shelter, Andrews said.
The specialists and other emergency personnel would fly into the reserve center airfield from throughout the state, he added. They could then be sent out via helicopter to wherever they were needed.