The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services is a trailblazer

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services is a trailblazer, getting frontline workers the PPE supplies they need to fight COVID-19

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“We get up every single day to focus on how we can be best prepared to support the people of California when they most need help,” said Grady Joseph, Assistant Director, Recovery Operations for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. “We are always striving to improve the way that we are serving our customers, looking for ways that we can make that interaction with government — which can be challenging in the best of times, let alone in the middle of an emergency — a simple, intuitive, reassuring experience.”

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services’ (Cal OES) mission is to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the impacts of all hazards and threats. It is responsible for efforts like coordinating statewide disaster response and recovery activities, managing public safety communications, and keeping a stockpile of necessary supplies on hand to support when California’s 38 million residents need them most.

“In other words, we serve as the state’s defensive line in the face of all types of emergencies; homeland security, earthquakes, wildfires, droughts, and (most recently) COVID-19,” said Joseph.

COVID-19 forces emergency services to define (and quantify) the unknown.

Like much of the country, Joseph and team found themselves watching the news stories about the virus spreading from around the world, especially Italy, while working with the federal government on quarantined cruise ships and repatriation flights. “What we didn’t have early on was data. We didn’t have any confirmed information on the rate of transmission, no real opportunity to conduct robust testing, or the ability to do any meaningful data modeling. We were flying blind,” said Joseph. “And we only have about 450 hospitals across the state, which meant this crisis was going to be a huge lift for frontline healthcare workers, requiring an unknown and likely unprecedented amount of PPE.”

Unprecedented indeed, as some of California’s most noteworthy disasters still pale in comparison:

  • In 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake damaged an estimated 11,500 homes across the San Francisco Bay Area and collapsed the Bay Bridge, amounting over $10 billion in total costs. It caused roughly 3,700 reported injuries and over 60 deaths.1
  • In 1994, the Northridge earthquake damaged an estimated 450,000 homes across Southern California and collapsed seven bridges, amounting over $65 billion in total costs. It caused roughly 12,000 reported injuries and 57 deaths.2
  • In 2008, over 6,200 wildfires burned nearly 1.6 million acres of land impacting 28 different counties,3 and “in 2018 the Camp Fire in Butte County and the Woolsey Fire in Ventura County — probably the most complex event we managed in a long time — had us filling about 35 resource requests over a two week period.”

“But COVID-19 has impacted all 58 counties, simultaneously, leaving us to fill 150 resource requests every single day. So we had to put together a kind of worst case scenario,” Joseph continued. “And that was before California’s record wildfire season happened. 2020 brought over 8,000 wildfires, burning over 3.6 million acres of land across 57 counties. We needed a system that could scale to meet a size and scope we couldn’t necessarily estimate.”

Cal OES deploys a complete PPE management platform on the cloud.

Together with their implementation partner, Four Leaf, Joseph and team deployed a comprehensive PPE management system on the FedRAMP-authorized Salesforce Customer 360 Platform for Government. It gives the state a single, automated, consistent place to go for ordering, filling, distributing, and measuring California’s PPE needs. It is broken into three parts:

(1) Donation and Supply Intake Portal

The operations center was inundated with offers to help supply PPE from thousands of potential donors and vendors. Joseph and team stood up a website using web-to-lead which allows the Cal OES to organize and validate supply offers, as well as streamline the procurement process. “We were able to stand up the Intake Portal within 72 hours, expanding the state’s reach to critical suppliers through an organized system and workflow for triaging and validating thousands of donors and suppliers” said Eric Scully, Founder and CEO of Four Leaf.

(2) Procurement Management

Once a lead has been validated using the intake portal, the information, product specifications, and other pertinent details are automatically populated in the next app: the Procurement Management app, built on Service Cloud. It serves as an extension of the intake portal that not only helps the state take action on suppliers faster, but also allows logistics and commodities staff to track and manage the procurement lifecycle; where supplies are in the process, the amount and source of funding used to purchase the supplies, how long it takes to acquire and then distribute them, and so on. “This application allows the procurement team to have a clear line of sight throughout the procurement process and meet the unprecedented demands for PPE throughout the state,” said Scully.
See these in action.

(3) Public Health Ordering System (PHOS) / Medical Resource Request Triage and Adjudication System

Once a supplier has been validated and the procurement process has been completed, the PHOS app built streamlines the ordering process for both State staff and its customers working in hospitals, clinics, and more. Staff and customers are given role-based log in’s to a Community Cloud portal where they can place an order, check for status updates, and pull their own reports. “Hospitals used to fill out a paper order form and mail it as a PDF to the county. Whoever received the orders at the county office might aggregate them into a spreadsheet and/or forward them directly to their regional support center. You can’t scale that kind of process to manage 150 daily requests. The orders would regularly stack up,” said Joseph.

MuleSoft connects the system to Cal OES’ shipping vendor, automating distribution, tracking numbers, and delivery confirmations. “Once we digitized the core workflows, we were able to integrate distribution partners and create a true end-to-end ordering and fulfillment system with visibility into each step of the process,” said Scully. “We were able to modernize decades-old, paper-driven processes with a matter of days using Salesforce for the PHOS.”

See it in action.


Best practices checklist

Cal OES shares five best practices from its experience designing and deploying the PPE management system.
“This 3-part system also includes built-in Tableau dashboards that give us granular information on how much time the entire process takes,” said Joseph. “This has unlocked the insights about our supply chain and our logistics pipeline, which we are using to brief the public, hold ourselves accountable, and inform our planning for future scenarios.”

Immediate results give way to a lasting strategy.

The entire system went live in just two weeks. The team has used this to source $2 billion in PPE over a 45-day timeframe. Automation capabilities and data-driven processes sped up order filling time by two days, and distribution tools enabled the movement of PPE supply to healthcare workers, farm workers, tribal governments, and more. “We were even able to send PPE packages to every single school district in all 58 counties across the state,” said Joseph. To date, the team has delivered over 1 billion units of PPE.

Joseph and team are also starting to apply this strategy to other areas of the mission, turning today’s investment into reusable solutions for tomorrow. They are looking at how to streamline the delivery of resources for fire evacuees, automate shelter management logistics so that staff can keep more time and energy focused on disaster recovery efforts than on filling out forms, faxing orders, or navigating clerical work. “This system provided the kind of accurate and reliable data needed to inform decisions on any relevant topic, paving the way for proactive response measures that would otherwise be impossible to achieve when relying upon paper-driven processes,” said Scully.

“We're constantly improving the ways that we do business and the ways that we're supporting our residents,” said Joseph. “We're using this crisis as an opportunity to completely transform the way that we respond to disasters and manage the logistics, statewide.”

[1]  Public Policy Institute of California:

[2] Public Policy Institute of California:

[3] CAL Fire:


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