Riverside County Hires New Emergency Services Coordinator, Greg Papazian

Greg Papazian, a southern California native who spent the last four years as an emergency management consultant in the Washington, D.C. area, has been named Riverside County’s new emergency services coordinator. In this role, Papazian serves both the Cities of Indian Wells and Palm Desert. His previous experience includes work with various agencies including FEMA, Fairfax County and the U.S. House of Representatives, Emergency Management Division. He has extensive knowledge in various emergency planning efforts, homeland security exercises and support of large events similar to those that occur annually in the City of Indian Wells and neighboring communities.

“California is a great place to be, but unfortunately our state is experiencing more frequent and intense disasters due to a variety of factors. My goal is to ensure that both the City and its residents are prepared for, and can quickly recover from, any disaster large or small,” Papazian explained.

Part of that effort is ensuring residents receive timely notifications in the event of an emergency. With changes in communication preferences over time, emergency notification systems have had to evolve as well. When landlines were the primary method of communication, phone numbers were provided, under law, to public safety agencies who would contact residents at home. While some residents still have a landline phone, most also have a cellular device, which they carry at all times. Today, residents can opt in to receive emergency notifications via text message, call or e-mail no matter where they are. Locally, the City of Indian Wells encourages residents to sign up for Nixle, an alert notification service that informs residents of relevant information including severe weather, traffic, missing persons and community events. To opt in to this service, text 92210 to 888777.

Alert RivCo is the County’s emergency notification system and is controlled by local public safety agencies that can target notifications to specific addresses or areas. Registration is simple and there are significant advantages over past landline-based emergency notifications. For example, by receiving mobile alerts, residents will be notified of happenings in their neighborhood even when they are away from home. Another advantage is that Alert RivCo is often used to tell residents when it’s safe to return to their residence. To sign up, click here.

Social media platforms also present additional means of communication. The City of Indian Wells Facebook page provides timely updates on events, news and notifications relevant to residents. The County Emergency Management Department also uses both Facebook and Twitter to post updates.

Papazian is excited to hit the ground running in his new role and use the tools at his disposal to keep residents informed and educated on what to do in case of an emergency.

“Emergency Management is multifaceted. One day, I might be giving a presentation to a community group about earthquake preparedness and the next day I can be conducting an exercise with our public safety professionals or supporting the needs of an incident in the County at an Emergency Operations Center. No two days are alike. It certainly keeps you on your toes,” Papazian said.

New to the desert, Papazian and his family have been impressed by the natural beauty, high quality of life and the abundance of recreational opportunities our area has to offer.