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San Mateo County Gives Residents
Options and Opportunities to Get Prepared
JoAnn Scordino, a Certified Emergency Manager with San Mateo County, stressed that there are many different ways to effectively involve residents in emergency preparedness efforts. “As emergency managers, we can get set in our thinking that residents should do something specific like CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training, but everyone may not initially be ready for this level of involvement,” she said. (It is a 20 hour class.) “The truth is there is something for everyone to do, and we need to create different ways for different people to get involved,” added Scordino.With this in mind, the county has developed a “preparedness pyramid” with different levels of involvement available to residents interested in emergency preparedness.
Neighborhood Networks Keep
Burlingame Residents Connected, Safe and Prepared
Council Member Terry Nagel started the first Neighborhood Network in Burlingame after hosting a coffee discussion with neighbors about emergency preparedness. The six block captains who run the Neighborhood Network in Burlingame’s Poppy Drive area distribute neighborhood news and emergency tips via e-newsletter and fliers dropped on doorsteps; publicize opportunities for emergency preparedness, CPR and other training; advise residents of ways to get connected with the city via an emergency alert system, city e-newsletters, a crime reporting system and citizen engagement projects; and host social events.
Neighborhood Liaisons Support
Redwood City Emergency Preparedness
Erica Spacher runs the innovative Neighborhood Liaisons program in Redwood City. Neighborhood Liaisons agree to meet and talk to a few of their neighbors, have them fill out contact sheets, and then help get some of these neighbors together to come up with and then work on a neighborhood project. It’s kind of like the traditional “block captain” concept, but with a self-starting, community-building angle. Spacher reports that emergency preparation is the most requested training by these residents, and several such sessions are held each year. Once a year, a short basic disaster preparation class is taught to Neighborhood Liaisons, who then take the information back to others in their neighborhood.
Volunteer Emergency Response Teams
Help Keep City of San Mateo Safe
The City of San Mateo’s Fire Department started a neighborhood emergency services program in the mid-90s. This program was reorganized in 2006 to conform to the CERT national curriculum. In its first year and a half, 539 residents participated in the course, which meets one night a week for six weeks and has been offered 14 times so far. A total of 420 residents have completed the course, thus becoming a part of San Mateo’s emergency response team.
Block Coordinator Program Connects
Palo Alto Residents and City Staff
The Palo Alto’s Block Coordinator Program encourages all residents to be the eyes and ears of their neighborhood, while empowering them to work productively with city staff in times of crisis. The initiative for this program came after 9/11 when neighbors wanted to know what they could do to help, according to Annette Glankopf, chair of the Palo Alto Neighborhoods Disaster & Emergency Preparedness Committee.
Woodside Nonprofit Helps
Coordinate Volunteers and Organizations for Emergency
Woodside’s Citizens for Emergency Response Preparedness Program, or CERPP, is a nonprofit organization that partners with the local fire department to teach CPR, babysitter and basic first aid training for small children in schools, and CERT and radio training classes for adults. CERPP also runs an advanced 50-hour emergency responder class, has a disaster animal rescue team (DART) and is developing a medical reserve corps. A communications committee uses radios of various types to create an emergency communications network in collaboration with the county. Twice-yearly field exercises aim to get the whole community working with the fire department and the city, training volunteers to distribute community-specific emergency supplies such as cots, blankets, radios, medical triage kits and water.
LEND Program Organizes and Trains
Diverse Millbrae Residents in Disaster
The Millbrae Fire Department organized the “Location, Emergency, Number of People and Disposition” (LEND) program in 2007 to bring together a network of community volunteers and resources to help during major emergencies. A team of firefighters provides a series of classes focused on aiding first responders. The participants learn how to assess and communicate injuries and dangerous situations within the city during a major catastrophe by means of a two-way handheld wireless radio system. The network creates a means of communication in case normal telecommunication is disrupted. In an emergency, the LEND radio operators, Millbrae HAM radio operators and volunteers who have CERT training would coordinate with the city’s Emergency Operations Center, which includes a state-of-the-art mobile communications van, to prioritize the most dangerous areas and injured people in most dire need of services.
Helping Nonprofits, Child Care
Providers and Senior Centers with Disaster Preparedness Efforts
in San Mateo County
Thrive is the alliance of Nonprofits for San Mateo County, established in 2000. In the wake of Katrina, members created the Thrive Emergency Task Force to “create specialized training for the nonprofit and faith-based sectors that follows the training format of other emergency preparedness programs, so that we are all on the same page,” according to Dena Gunning, who also works with the City of San Bruno’s Community Preparedness Committee. The Thrive Emergency Preparedness Program for Nonprofits was established to pool local community resources and to develop a regional mutual aid collaboration in the Bay Area as well as in San Mateo County.
Pilot Program Involves San Mateo
County Clergy and Congregations in Disaster Preparation
The Peninsula Clergy Network (PCN) is a professional association of the Peninsula’s 440 clergy. The PCN’s pilot disaster preparedness and response project in Redwood City creates a structure that incorporates congregations into the San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services (OES) emergency response system. The project has designed three cluster areas with a different core congregation as the response center for each cluster and other congregations playing a supporting role. Core congregations are located within a mile of each other. They are meant to be a resource for the entire neighborhood, according to PCN Program Coordinator Gina Quiney. “The idea is that people will come to the core congregations in an emergency and someone there will be able to direct them to a congregation that has the needed resources,” said Quiney.
Fire Department Takes on Emergency
Preparedness in Northern San Mateo County
The Colma Fire Protection District works in the small Town of Colma and in the village of Broadmoor in unincorporated San Mateo County. The district was founded by volunteers in 1925, and continues to involve volunteers from the community in emergency preparedness efforts. Over the past year and a half, the district has provided CERT training to 38 volunteers in Colma, and the town has purchased backpack emergency kits for each of the 461 living units in town. They also have emergency kits, blankets and water stored at the community center.