Grand Jury ‘commends the city of Ridgecrest’

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Grand Jury ‘commends  the city of  Ridgecrest’On Wednesday, the Kern County Grand Jury released a report stating the investigating committee was “impressed and commends the city of Ridgecrest” and the agencies that provided aid following the historic earthquake sequence in July.

Following the 6.4-magnitude earthquake on July 4, Kern County Emergency Operations Center initiated a Level 2 activation of services to render aid and assistance to the area. Much of that support was in place when the 7.1-magnitude quake hit July 5.

The Grand Jury said it conducted an inquiry to determine whether the response was sufficient and performed effectively.

The report, published at kerncounty.com/grandjury/early_releases/PDFs/city_joint_city%20of%20ridgecrest.pdf, outlines sources from which the jury gathered information, as well as general findings from the incident.

“The Grand Jury recommends the city of Ridgecrest review and, if needed, update the Ridgecrest Emergency Operations Plan to reflect what was learned,” concludes the report.

“I agree — everyone did a great job,” said Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin, who served as incident commander during the emergency. “But there are always ways to improve.”

McLaughlin said that numerous follow-up discussions have yielded instructive feedback on how to refine emergency responses.

“One of the things we learned was our EOC headquarters is too small,” he said. He said his team has already identified an alternate location near City Hall.

“Another thing I learned during the crisis, although I wish I had realized it earlier, is that we need to bring in emotional support teams for our first-responders.

“We are also looking at different kinds of training, and other things we need to be prepared for, but overall I really think people did a great job.”

McLaughlin and Mayor Peggy Breeden were nominated by Kern Council of Governments for an award for leadership during the crisis (see related story, this edition).

“This is also a good time to remind people they need to make a Go Bag, if they have not already,” he said. Individuals should be prepared to shelter in place for up to 72 hours in the event of an emergency, he said.

For more information on emergency preparation, see www.redcross.org.

Pictured: Chief Jed McLaughlin (center) with Gov. Gavin Newsom at a post-earthquake press conference.

Story First Published: 2020-01-17