Santa Monica’s Emergency Operations Center Series – Sharon Guidry
March 30, 2021 9:01 AM
by Sharon Guidry
The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency was declared on March 13, 2020 – one year ago. Once a public health emergency is declared, cities activate an Emergency Operations Center to quickly mobilize staff and resources to best meet the immediate and then ongoing needs of the community throughout the emergency. For the COVID-19 emergency, staff have been reassigned from their day-to-day duties to critical roles to ensure the City prioritizes the community’s public health and minimizes the risks of COVID-19 exposures at every step. The team reviews the state, regional, and local situation status daily and pivots their focus regularly based on the highest community needs or new information received from LA County Department of Public Health or the State of California.
EOC efforts include proactive and reactive measures to ensure our community prevents as many COVID-19 infections as possible and reopens programs in a safe way. Examples of EOC outreach include:
- Outreach to residents and businesses to ensure the health order is implemented correctly '\
- Implementation of a COVID-19 Hotline throughout the pandemic to answer public questions
- Coordination with LA County on food distribution sites
- Creation of a health ambassador program to distribute face coverings and in-person health information, and
- Ongoing collaboration with non-profit and community partners to ensure they have the latest information.
The work is challenging but meaningful, and while we remain in the midst of hard times, we are now looking toward reopening including vaccination efforts and long-term economic recovery. For a look behind the scenes of the City of Santa Monica Emergency Operations Center and to meet some of our staff who have been supporting the entire community throughout this public health emergency, stay tuned to the City’s Blog all this week as we feature many of our staff who have played an important role throughout the public health emergency.
Sharon Guidry, Code Enforcement Manager
What is your role in the City of Santa Monica Emergency Operations Center?
I am the Operations Section Chief overseeing the Emergency Order Compliance Group.
What is your background, and how have you prepared to take on this role?
I have worked in Code Enforcement for 26 years with 13 of those years overseeing and directing Code Enforcement Division operations. I served as Plans Section Chief in the Santa Monica Emergency Operations Center for three years prior to the COVID-19 emergency activation and have 31 years overall experience working in some capacity during Emergency Operations Center activations since the 1992 LA Riots.
I have Incident Command Systems (ICS) 100, 200, 300, and 800 Certifications, and have completed the Emergency Management and Crisis Preparedness Training Certificate from Texas A&M Engineering Extension.
What is a typical week for you in the Emergency Operations Center?
A typical week includes approximately 10-12 hour work days overseeing the day-to-day emergency enforcement response to the pandemic including managing 14 Code Enforcement Division staff, overseeing and administering the Health Ambassador Program, and 9 Heath Ambassadors in the program who work 7 days per week. I monitor changes to the State, County and Local Health Officer Orders and Supplements daily and insure proper training of staff in the emergency order compliance group. I allocate enforcement and Health Ambassador resources as necessary to keep up with rapidly changing priorities and coordinate the numerous special targeted enforcement operations plans and assignments. I develop and implement enforcement procedures to ensure maximum effectiveness to revised LA County Department of Public Health Officer Orders. I also manage and monitor data collection and tracking of enforcement activities and oversee the associated budget expenditures and tracking. This work includes providing regular updates to city officials and the City of Santa Monica Director of Emergency Operations Center.
What’s it like to play this critical role for over a year?
It has been challenging but most rewarding at the same time. To be a part of a City team who has worked tirelessly to protect the public’s health during this national health crisis and to see the positive impact of the work we have done to help save lives is nothing short of amazing to be a part of.
Why do you do this work?
I do this work because I love it. I believe in the work that we do to protect the health, safety and general welfare of the public. I believe our work helps to improve the lives of so many people that we come in contact with, and it helps to keep them safe.
What has been the most surprising?
The duration of the pandemic for sure.
What has been the most challenging?
The fiscal impacts on the City that resulted in staffing reductions and operations while trying to also prevent burnout from overworking the remaining staff.
What has been the most heartwarming?
To see my enforcement team report to work day-after-day with the spirit of service to others while essentially putting themselves at risk to do so.
Are there any fun facts about Santa Monica’s EOC?
The City tracks all of our work related to the public health emergency. My team has had over 63,000 interactions with Santa Monica Businesses and over 36,000 interactions with people regarding wearing a face covering. You can see the live dashboard at santamonica.gov/coronavirus.
What do you want the public to know right now?
That we are here working tirelessly to protect you. We understand that there are non-COVID-19 concerns that are very important to you as well, and we are working towards restoring some enforcement resources to address some of those concerns. During the pandemic, we continue to respond to non-COVID-19 related concerns that pose an immediate and emergency life or health safety risk such as construction work without permits and substandard housing. While you may experience a delay in response to non-COVID and non-emergency related concerns, we will get to them if you report them.
How do you stay rested and engaged during such a long and dynamic public health emergency?
I haven't comfortably rested since the pandemic hit our nation but my commitment to protecting the public's health has provided the energy and focus I need to keep me going every day, seven days a week.
Is there anything else you want the public to know about the role you play, the work you do, or Santa Monica’s Emergency Operations Center?
The Emergency Order Compliance Group has been a central figure in the City’s response to the emergency. We have expanded our resources to provide coverage 7 days per week in an effort to meet the needs of the emergency and will continue to do so for as long as we need to. We are just a call, email or service request away