Sherryl L. Parks | Kalamath Drive
|Photo Sherryl Parks
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Preparing Del Mar for natural emergencies or other disasters is important. California requires all municipalities to provide training each year and October 15 was our “Shake Out Drill for 2015.” If you were in town, you may have noticed the Community Emergency Response Trainees (CERT) wearing their green vests around your neighborhood. Precisely at 10:15 am all volunteers were notified of an emergency by phone or text messaging. Immediate response back to division leaders was required.
There are four separate neighborhoods where CERTs muster: North Hill (around San Dieguito Drive), Mid-town (on the hill), El Amigo area (southern neighborhoods) as well as beach area. Once the groups assembled and took assessment of the damages they quickly reported back to their division leaders by using ham radios or cell phones. Eventually all volunteers were asked to report to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) - actually the city hall annex, to provide triage or other assistance. Dr. Larry Shapiro, an emergency doctor, served as Incident Commander at the EOC for “injured patients.”
Meanwhile Carol Kerridge was coordinating phone messages from neighbors who had volunteered to assist the disabled or elderly in times of emergencies. This program involves 24 clients with a precise plan from their neighbors to help with pets or oxygen, medicines and transport, as needed.
The most important aspect of this year’s shake out was the implementation of our new AREDN (Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network) technology. This allowed us to communicate with one another and headquarters WITHOUT Internet connection. Small devices are plugged into a car allowing volunteers to report back the damages to EOC headquarters even if the electricity is down.
This year the damages from the mock fire at the north end of town, the houses off their foundations as a result of our mid-town earthquake, and the traffic congestion on 8th Street were all reported via this wireless AREDN system. EOC headquarters was then able to respond quickly to our community. Meanwhile, CERT volunteers were then instructed to report to EOC for further instructions.
Every Shake out drill includes a de-briefing. It is the most important part of the exercise so that we can assess what went right and what went wrong. This year our city staff was most impressed with the video/audio feedback they had throughout the exercise initiated by our CERT Coordinator, Cap Pinney. It is important to mention that there was a camera on the corner of Camino Del Mar and 11th Street, which allowed full view of that area, feeding into headquarters.
In the future we hope to expand AREDN’s support using more video cameras and wireless support throughout neighborhoods. Del Mar is the first community in the country to have this advanced technology in place to assist us in emergencies. Both Cap Pinney, CERT Coordinator for Del Mar, and Gene Swiech, Qualcomm engineer, donated hours of their time to get Del Mar way ahead of the rest of California with the new technology. Thanks to both and job well done to all who participated.
If you are interested in helping as a Community Emergency Support person, contact Cap Pinney. at email@example.com for more information.