by Hugh Donagher
Recently a friend of mine posted a thought online. ‘Do you have an emergency meetup plan for you and loved ones in case you are separated in a disaster? Earthquake, flood, etc.” This stay-at-home mother of two young girls went on to muse about being out and about on everyday errands when disaster strikes, possibly separating her from her husband and her two girls, each in their normal day-time locales: work and school. Maybe she’d be at the grocery store. Communications have been disrupted. Roads are impassable. How do you reunite with family, let alone make contact with them?
Interestingly, it was a Danielle Steele novel about an earthquake that got her thinking. She thought maybe it was silly to react to the novel in this way, but my comment to her that this was a valid concern and one that merited thought, discussion and action. Is your family ready? Have you thought through such questions?
In Old Mountain View, thanks to an active group of Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers, we are fortunate to have about 50 neighborhood coordinators quietly standing ready to lend aid in the event of a disaster. But it is still the responsibility of each family to prepare to take care of themselves in case of widespread power outages, communications outages and overloaded emergency services that might not be able to respond to calls for help, perhaps for days at time. Contact Mountain View Office of Emergency Services (MTVOES) at 903-6825 for information on disaster preparedness and CERT training. City-sponsored CERT training is offered on a regular basis and is free to Mountain View residents.
In October, MTVOES coordinated a city-wide CERT drill to practice and streamline communications between local CERT organizations and the city in the event of an actual disaster. Besides OMVNA, other Mountain View neighborhoods including Monta Loma, Cuesta Park, and Rex Manor have also organized CERT groups. During the drill, each neighborhood practiced reporting their conditions to the Police and Fire ham radio shack at 1000 Villa. Those operators in turn relayed information to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which would respond to calls for assistance in a real disaster and allocate resources as they became available. EOC staff also relayed communications back to the field during the drill. These drills have produced many significant improvements in how we collect and share information under disaster circumstances.
The next newsletter will likely contain an announcement of another neighborhood drill. All interested neighbors, whether or not you are already involved with CERT, are welcome to participate in these drills. Any questions about CERT can be directed to CERT Chair Aaron Grossman (firstname.lastname@example.org).