On Alert At The Mall

By Larry Barrett  |  Posted 2005-05-04 Print this article Print

The cornerstone of Orange County's disaster preparedness is a new software system from EDS.

On Alert At The Mall

The EVOC system allows for multiple applications used by private-sector businesses to be incorporated in this countywide view as well.

Shirley Ono, administrator of business continuity for the 144-store Macy's West division, says the department store operator's preparation for any disaster in Orange County has increased substantially since 9/11. Store managers conduct full-scale evacuation drills twice a year at the company's major retail locations at both the South Coast Plaza and Santa Ana Main Place shopping centers.

"We've had extensive terrorism and disaster training programs implemented at all our stores," she says. "Partnerships with Anaheim Police and the Orange County emergency response teams have increased not only our managers' awareness but the way we share information among ourselves and with these agencies."

Macy's implemented a software system called E-Team for store managers to report significant events at any location; the information can then be shared throughout the Macy's organization and with Orange County first responders.

"Anything from a flood in a parking lot to a power outage can be put into the system," Ono says. "That information is available to anyone and is cataloged for reference down the road. So when a major event does occur, we know exactly who to contact for help and they know exactly who to contact within a particular store in an emergency."

Similar plans to keep businesses in operation in the event of a disaster have been implemented at such major Orange County corporations as Toyota Motor Sales, Yamaha Corp. of America and The Capital Group Cos., as well as major arenas like Arrowhead Pond and Angel Stadium.

"The key for all these businesses in Orange County is they're willing to commit the time and resources to plan ahead in case of a major disaster," says Judy Bell, president of the Disaster Survival Planning Network. "Understanding how long it will take to resume the critical business applications and who is needed to make them work is crucial."

Back at Disneyland, Anaheim police now occasionally stop and take pictures with tourists at the park's main entrance. That show of force, in a friendly fashion, is something that would never have occurred prior to 9/11. Before that day, Disneyland requested that police maintain as low a profile around the resort as possible.

"There's no question that Disneyland is very sensitive about how the public perceives the safety of the park," Sgt. Martinez explains. "But it's up to us as a community to make sure that the perception of safety and happiness is a reality. It's not easy making this the happiest place on Earth."

Senior Writer
Larry, of San Carlos, Calif., was a senior writer and editor at CNet, writing analysis, breaking news and opinion stories. He was technology reporter at the San Jose Business Journal from 1996-1997. He graduated with a B.A. from San Jose State University where he was also executive editor of the daily student newspaper.

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