In a lightly attended Mountain Emergency Services Committee meeting, Kathleen Henderson, Riverside County emergency services coordinator for the mountain, described the new Emergency Management Department, which the Board of Supervisors established in May and was effective July 1.

EMD will be composed of two Public Health agencies — the Emergency Preparedness and Response Branch and the Emergency Medical Services Agency — and the Office of Emergency Services from the county Fire Department.

“All of these deal with preparedness and emergency responses to some extent,” Henderson said, explaining why they were merged into one. “I don’t expect any change to our delivery of service,” she stressed. “OES operations haven’t changed.”

For example, OES was still a major participant during last week’s Anza Fire. OES organized and managed evacuations during that incident, Henderson said. “We’re still doing what we normally do.”

After she reminded attendees that September is “National Preparedness Month,” Mike Feyder, Mountain Disaster Preparedness president, announced that the group is planning a preparedness meeting in early September to focus on the expected strong El Niño event this fall and winter.

Alex Tardy, National Weather Service meteorologist in San Diego, will discuss the long-range forecast, said Henderson.

Kim Saruwatari, former chief of the PHEPRB, is overseeing the actions to create the new department. Its website should go public near Sept. 1.

Henderson also reported that the statement of work to replace the current early warning system is being developed. The county hopes to have a new system operational before the end of 2015.