Soboba’s Department of Public Safety recently welcomed Mikayla Mendoza to its newly created position of Emergency Services Coordinator. Under the supervision of DPS Director Brian Herritt and Soboba Fire Chief Glenn Patterson, she will plan, develop and coordinate multi-hazard emergency response and recovery activities in support of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians.
Mendoza, of Banning, is currently earning her Master’s in Emergency and Disaster Management from American Military University. Her background is in emergency preparedness for public transportation, dispatch communications, code compliance and physical access, and life safety systems.
She became interested in this line of work from an internship she served while an undergraduate student, working for the emergency preparedness coordinator at Omnitrans, a public transportation agency in San Bernardino.
“I enjoyed learning everything about the field and was attracted to the position at Soboba because It gives me the opportunity to use what I have learned to help people,” she said. “I spend my time split between both locations – the Victim’s Assistance Center at DPS or the Emergency Operations Center at the fire station.”
Her job functions entail preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery for natural hazards, technological hazards and human caused hazards.
The tasks that are now her responsibility as coordinator were previously shared by multiple people at the Fire, DPS, Public Works and Administration departments. In addition, the Tribal Emergency Response Commission (TERC) will be working closely with Mendoza to create, implement and maintain emergency preparation plans.
Soboba Fire Chief Glenn Patterson said she will advise TERC on items relating to emergency preparedness, train TERC members, attend its meetings, coordinate with TERC in preparing Hazard Mitigation Plans and Emergency Operations Plans and coordinate with TERC in providing Tribal residents with preparedness materials and public education demonstrations.
Patterson said that Mendoza’s duties when working with the fire department will include planning, developing and coordinating responses to multi-hazard emergency or disaster conditions involving earthquakes, major fire/wildfires, hazardous materials, nuclear incidents, pandemics, imminent/actual flooding, imminent/actual dam failures and transportation networks.
“My priorities are to get staff training to be able to operate in the emergency operations center, update our emergency plans, and acquire more emergency supplies and resources for the tribe,” Mendoza said. “Moving forward I want to work with Fire and DPS to provide trainings for CPR, AED, CERT, Active shooter, situational awareness and more. I also want to do some exercises starting with evacuation drills and moving up to larger scale incident exercises.”
She will continue attending multiple training classes for a few more months but is already assisting in developing the Hazard Mitigation Plan, Emergency Operations Plan and organizing the Emergency Operations Center.
“What I enjoy most about my job is knowing at the end of the day I may make a difference in someone’s life,” Mendoza said. “Emergency preparedness is an investment in yourself, your family and your community.
“I like to say it’s a lot like practicing for your sport. Practice makes you stronger, so you and your team can perform better. Emergency management is a team sport, we need all cylinders going and everyone on board,” she said. “The more participation we get in our program, the stronger it will make the Tribe.”
Photo courtesy of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians