Placer County names county civil engineer and Placer resident Dave Atkinson assistant director of the Office of Emergency Services

Published May 21, 2021

Placer County has named county civil engineer and Placer resident Dave Atkinson as the assistant director of the Office of Emergency Services to lead the county’s emergency management program.

“Dave was a natural choice, not only because of his long successful history with the county, but his long-standing residency in an area where a lot of our disaster preparedness efforts are already happening,” said Placer County Executive Officer Todd Leopold. “Emergency preparedness is a way of life for people like Dave, and his civil engineering background makes him uniquely positioned to assess county infrastructure in case of an emergency. His deep and personal understanding of the challenges of vulnerable communities paired with his technical expertise will be an important asset for our county.”

The Office of Emergency Services, in cooperation with local cities, special districts, and fire and law enforcement agencies, provides emergency management services and coordination. During an active incident that requires emergency sheltering and coordination, such as a fire or a flood, OES helps secure resources necessary for first responders to protect and communicate with the community. It also serves as a liaison with all county departments and external partners throughout the emergency. 

Per the Placer County Charter, the county executive officer serves as the director of emergency services, with the assistant serving as the main day-to-day manager as well as the lead for the county’s emergency operations center.

With California’s history of earthquakes and other disasters, one of the most important post-disaster activities is to determine the safety and functionality of key facilities. These facilities include emergency operation centers, shelters, hospitals, sewage plants, water treatment systems and airports. 

California-registered professional civil engineers with a background in public works are one of the only qualifications allowed by the state to direct the assessments of these types of infrastructure. Additionally, having a background and knowledge in construction and public works will be invaluable in the county’s efforts to obtain hazard mitigation funding through programs such as Building Resilient Infrastructure Communities, which is focused on infrastructure projects that support community lifelines.

Atkinson is a 17-year Foresthill resident, who joined Placer County in 2005. Prior to transferring to OES, he managed the county’s water and wastewater operations group. Over the last five years, he also served as the planning coordinator in the county’s Emergency Operations Center, which included multiple activations for fires, public safety power shutoffs, major winter storms and an extended activation for the county’s COVID-19 response. 

His volunteer activities include the Placer County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team incident command support and is a leader for the local Boy Scouts troop with his younger children. Atkinson is a graduate of University of California, Davis and is a registered professional civil engineer in the state of California.

“I am honored to serve my community in this capacity,” Atkinson said. “As a Foresthill resident, it is not lost on me how important emergency preparedness is for the safety of our communities. With the current trends in the last few years, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure our county and residents are prepared for disaster. Having been deeply embedded into emergency preparations at a personal and professional level, I am ready to take our resiliency to the next level.”

Atkinson will be presenting next week at the Board of Supervisors meeting as part of a joint overview with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office and CAL FIRE / Placer County Fire Department on preparations for this year’s upcoming fire season. Residents can tune in to watch this presentation May 25 at approximately 9 a.m. here