Building Better Communications for the Next Big Disaster


Sacramento – Building capacity to support Californians during times of crisis, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) hosted public information officers from across state government last week for training on how to communicate with the public during a disaster.

Over the past several years, California has experienced an unprecedented number of emergencies and disasters, leading to an urgent need to continue releasing relevant, accurate, and timely information to the public.

As California’s lead emergency management agency, Cal OES has a unique leadership role in training first responders and emergency managers in the foundations of emergency management to prepare for, respond to and recover from all types of emergencies and disasters.

This training for communications professionals within state agencies is vital to supporting the state during an emergency. As these climate-driven natural disasters become more severe in California, these public information officers (PIOs) are a crucial part of the emergency management system as they are often the first line of defense when getting information out to the public during a disaster or emergency.

¨Communications professionals at the state level are a critical part of how California responds to an emergency or disaster,” said Brian Ferguson, Deputy Director of Crisis Communication and Public Affairs. “Getting the right information to the right people and the right time ultimately helps saves lives and property during trying times.”

Instructor personative in front of class about public information officers

Through the California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI) at Cal OES, this hands-on, interactive three-day course covered high stress situations, learning disaster awareness, the fundamental principles of emergency preparedness and how to properly address the public.

Among the agencies participating were: the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Department of General Services, the California Highway Patrol, the California Department of Motor Vehicles, California Department of Transportation, California Volunteers and others.

The investment of time that these state communicators are putting in for this training will pay dividends to help keep Californians informed during our next emergency.

Image of a course instructor teaching students of the PIO Basics class.

Learn more about training from Cal OES at