Published October 17, 2006
Volume 14, Number 10

Emergency Preparedness in the Tri-Valley

(Top) Citizens take part in the Livermore Pleasanton Fire Department’s
Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training; (bottom left)
City of Pleasanton Civic Center; (bottom right) a brochure describing
Pleasanton’s Local Emergency Action Program (LEAP) is available
from the city’s Economic Development department.

It pays to be prepared for an emergency. Knowing what actions to take and what resources are available can be the key to keeping yourself, loved ones, and coworkers safe and sound.

Fortunately, there’s a lot of help available. The Tri-Valley offers a number of local programs to help train and serve those who live and work here, so that clear heads and preparation will prevail over even the most disastrous situations.

Integrating NIMS
The latest development in emergency preparedness came about as a result of the response to Hurricane Katrina last year. The Department of Homeland Security has since released a National Response Plan which explains a number of procedures and policies designed to keep first responders and emergency program administrators on the same page. One part of the National Response Plan is the National Incident Management System (NIMS), which establishes standardized incident management processes, protocols, and procedures that federal, state, and local authorities will use to coordinate and conduct response actions, allowing them to share a common focus. NIMS has found a home in the Tri-Valley as well.

“We are all working hard to be NIMS compliant in order to be eligible for federal funding in the event of a disaster,” says Sabina Imrie, EMS division manager for the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department (LPFD). “Each city has established an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and that is the core of city functions during a disaster. It’s where all your department heads will come together and make decisions for the city. Employees from both cities who serve in the capacity of EOC members have all been trained in accordance to the NIMS requirements in the last several months.”

Emergency Preparedness Begins at Home
Being prepared for an emergency does not end with our local governments, however. “The focus, even with NIMS training, is to make sure that employees and their families are taken care of, so that way they can be focused and dedicated to the incident,” says Imrie.

That starts with knowing that everything will be all right at home in case you can’t get there if a major emergency occurs. “If people are not prepared at home, they’re not prepared to respond at work because their mind is focused on their family and loved ones,” Imrie adds. “One of the things that we teach in our one-hour disaster preparedness course is personal preparedness for employees so they can become prepared at home and at work.”

The LPFD offers an abundance of home preparedness information through its website (www.lpfire.org—click on “Pleasanton Emergency Preparedness Classes”) including advice and checklists, as well as its own 34-page Family Disaster Preparedness Guide at www.ci.pleasanton.ca.us/pdf/livfamdis00.pdf. “The City of Pleasanton also has an emergency preparedness plan and that can be found on the City’s web site,” adds Imrie.

A number of events are held annually to help instruct families about emergency preparedness and safety. For example, the LPFD recently held a Disaster Preparedness Safety Fair for the City of Livermore, held in conjunction with the Livermore Farmers’ Market, and a similar event is planned for Pleasanton next year.

Emergency Preparedness in the Workplace
“Emergency responders are going to have their hands full for at least the first three to five days following a major disaster and many folks may get a busy signal when they call 911,” Imrie says. “We’re trying to teach businesses how to be prepared and have their employees be able to help each other out in the event of an emergency.” To meet this objective, the LPFD offers a wide range of training and other resources for emergency preparedness ranging from written documentation to hands-on emergency simulations. The LPFD also offers free disaster preparedness presentations to local businesses.

Another notable training effort made by the LPFD is its Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. CERT classes offer hands-on training in disaster first aid, basic fire fighting, disaster preparedness, damage assessment, utility control, light search and rescue operations, and team emergency organization. The training ends with a hands-on exercise where students organize into a team, rescue volunteer victims, conduct triage and disaster medicine, and extinguish a fire. A hard hat and vest as well as certification are provided to all CERT-trained participants. Instructors for the CERT courses include firefighters, paramedics, and search and rescue experts from LPFD.

Customized CERT classes for businesses (up to 25 people in a class) take a total of around 16 hours and can change depending on the business’ needs, with dates based on the attendees’ schedule and instructor availability. The classes can be conducted at a business location (with the exception of putting out a live fire) or at the Fire Training Tower on Busch Rd. in Pleasanton. A “train-the-trainer course” is also available for businesses who want to train 26 or more employees. In this program, the LPFD trains several members of a business’ staff on how to provide CERT training to other employees. Participants receive training materials and PowerPoint presentations to use in their classes.

While the LPFD tries to keep CERT classes at around 25 people, smaller businesses can gather with other businesses to reach the minimum number of attendees. For example, if businesses get together as a group, they can choose a facility to receive CERT training at the same time or be put on a list by the LPFD with other local businesses until the minimum number of students is achieved and a location chosen. CERT classes are also offered to the community. The classes take place once a week for six weeks from approximately 6:00 pm-9:30 pm. The next course will take place in the spring of 2007.

For workplace-specific information on emergency preparedness, the best local resource is the City of Pleasanton’s web site at www.ci.pleasanton.ca.us (click on Services, then Fire, then Emergency Preparedness). “Pleasanton’s web site offers downloadable documents on how to prepare for a disaster, disaster preparedness resources, the Family Disaster Guide—which really is helpful for family preparedness—the Shelter, Shut and Listen brochure, and more,” says Imrie.

LEAP into Action
The City of Pleasanton is also orchestrating a coordinated response to potential emergencies by joining with the business community to form its Local Emergency Action Program (LEAP). In essence, business participating in the program would partner with the city to provide goods or services at fair market value in the event of an emergency.

“The program is a little over a year old now and has been very well received by our business community,” says Pamela Ott, Pleasanton’s Economic Development director. “At its simplest and at its most complex, LEAP is about a partnership between the City of Pleasanton and our local businesses.”

By maintaining a database of partner businesses, the city hopes to achieve a number of goals such as strengthening community emergency resources, facilitating a coordinated emergency response, promoting interim post-event recovery, protecting community financial stability, and fostering business-to-business communication and commerce.

Ott notes that many businesses which have joined the program did not immediately realize their potential value to the program. “The restaurants and food service people recognized immediately how they might be able to participate—providing food for volunteers, for example—but there a lot of our service businesses that might be interested because there’s a wide breadth of products and services that we will need to provide our community. Should such an emergency happen, we want to make sure that if someone needs an accountant for some reason, we can provide that.

“We have a nail salon that has stepped up and said, ‘We want to participate.’ Maybe it’s not their direct service that we need, but maybe they have a location that could be used as a staging area or as a shelter. We’re really educating our business community that really all of our businesses have a value and something that they can bring to the table. It may be their location or they may have other materials on hand that we might be able to use.”

Participating businesses receive additional perks as well. “One of the great things that’s coming out of this program is an opportunity for the City of Pleasanton to help train our businesses so that they’re better prepared in the event of an emergency or disaster,” Ott adds. “We bring in speakers to talk about disaster preparedness plans for large and small businesses and provide assistance in creating those plans. We’ve actually provided our businesses with a template to create such a plan. That’s a really great part of this, how we can continue to help our businesses better prepare.”

Participating Hacienda companies include Oracle, Safeway, Finn Design Group, Four Points by Sheraton, and The Cheese Steak Shop. Additional information about the program is available on the LEAP Hotline, (925) 931-LEAP (5327), and on the City of Pleasanton web site at www.ci.pleasanton.ca.us/business/development/leapprogram.html.

Local Emergency Response
The LPFD Operations division is always a 911 call away, whether the problem is a fire or other situation. Services include:
• Fire Suppression for fires in buildings of all types, car fires, grass or rubbish fires, etc.
• Emergency Medical Response with personnel trained as Firefighters/Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians who can provide Advanced Life Support (ALS) as well as Basic Life Support (BLS).
• Rescue Operations for people trapped in wrecked cars, collapsed buildings, machinery, etc.
• Hazardous Materials Incidents where a materials release represents a threat to life, property, or the environment. This includes natural gas leaks.
• Public Assistance for situations involving children locked in cars or homes, disabled persons needing help, etc.
• Fire Inspection of businesses, apartments, etc. by fire companies to ensure that they are fire safe.

For Further Information
For more information on disaster preparedness presentations; CPR, First Aid and CERT emergency training; or other LPFD services, call (925) 454-2375. Other local classes include CPR, emergency response, and first aid training offered by the Bay Area Chapter of the American Red Cross at (800) 520-5433. Hacienda also offers a custom Emergency Procedures Manual which can be downloaded at http://www.hacienda.org/forms/forms_materials_security.html.


Also in this issue ...