Emergencies Across Borders: Cal OES on the Global Stage


Throughout history, the commitment of the subject matter experts and specialized personnel from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) has proven itself in dozens of missions, not only within the United States, but also abroad.

Whether it’s an earthquake, a hurricane, wildfires or floods, when another state or nation comes calling for help, California-based subject matter experts are available to deploy and assist if needed.


In the last three years, California has provided aid through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) to six states: Oregon, Hawaii, Florida, Montana, New Mexico and Colorado during a total of 38 missions.

“The definition of mutual aid is basically neighbors helping each other. Whenever a state requests our assistance, we send subject matter experts to assist in the response and recovery process,” said Elise Arata, a regional emergency coordinator at Cal OES.

And that help is reciprocal – although California is oftentimes well-resourced to respond and recover from disasters, if the emergency was large enough, the state may ask help of its neighbors.

In the last three years, Cal OES has received assistance from 23 states: Florida, New Jersey, Colorado, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Louisiana, Washington, Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah, Nevada, Hawaii, Mississippi, Arizona and North Dakota.


Likewise, Cal OES teams have responded to emergencies in other nations:

  • 2010 – Earthquake in Haiti
  • 2011 – Earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand
  • 2011 – Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan
  • 2015 – Earthquake in Nepal
  • 2017 – Earthquake in Mexico City
  • 2023 – Earthquake in Turkey

Whenever a natural disaster occurs anywhere in the world, Cal OES will constantly monitor the emergency and, if necessary, send California’s specialized personnel to assist those in need.

Through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) there are two highly trained teams ready to respond immediately and assist the affected, which one is based in Los Angeles and the other in Virginia.

The leaders of the country affected by an emergency, through their specialized emergency personnel, will contact other nations, and the first to respond will be those that are geographically closest, and those that have the specialized equipment and necessary human resources.

In the case of the earthquake that struck Japan on January 1, 2024, Japan holds a robust selection of disaster aid resources, as well as sufficient preparation to help its population, and thus did not need to request assistance from other nations.