ARTICLE from Half Moon Bay Battalion Chief, Dave Cosgrave:
This week marked our first anniversary since the Coastside Fire Protection District Board of Directors voted unanimously to sponsor Coastside CERT at a special board meeting packed with CERTs and supporters. What a year it has been!
We thank the Board, Chief Ian Larkin, and all of you who have stepped up to neighborhood and central program leadership roles as we have grown since May 2, 2019.
We have successfully scaled our start-up in response to first-year growth. The program leadership team has expanded to share the workload, drawing upon the deep pool of talent, dedication, and team play within our CERT community. Our neighborhood grassroots networks continue to organize and strengthen. Progress is unique to each neighborhood and we have a ways to go before all 32 are emergency response-ready: 18 are finding their feet, 8 are off to good starts, 3 are well on their way, and 3 are prepared and ready to respond. Neighborhood education initiatives, walkie-talkie classes, Preparedness Days, and block parties have brought fun, skills, information, and raised emergency preparedness awareness up and down the coast. We have learned the value of getting to know our neighbors and working together to prepare before disaster strikes.
Oh wait. Coronavirus did strike, we are using our prolonged shelter-in-place skills, calmly responding to rapidly evolving, potentially life-threatening circumstances, volunteering safely to help our community, and experiencing the value of neighborhood relationships to protect our community health and our most vulnerable residents. This emergency preparedness training actually works!
Growth is also the catalyst for our communication platform migration and expansion. To remain agile and responsive to our ever-increasing roster we migrated to Mailchimp, enabling us to reach our entire membership in just a few minutes, and launched Coastside CERT Facebook and Twitter accounts. Coastside CERT newsletters have morphed into my weekly messages during shelter-in-place, we have a logo, and CoastsideCERT.com pivoted to COVID-19 response and is continuing to evolve. Stay tuned!
Radio communications have always been a centerpiece of emergency response planning in our isolatable geographic location. Coastside CERT has a strong symbiotic relationship with the Half Moon Bay Amateur Radio Club (HMBARC) and its subset, Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES). Our organizations have grown hand in glove this year.
We are almost two-thirds of the way through our 18-month Listos California Capacity Building Grant, which is funding:
- Expanded training
- New PPE
- Volunteer Insurance
- Background Checks
- Fundraising 501(c)(3)
Along the way we were granted the authority for local Fire Battalion Chiefs and above to administer the Disaster Service Worker oath and activate Coastside CERTs. This is huge in terms of our ability to rapidly respond to local conditions.
With all the skill-building and community building CFPD sponsorship has ignited, perhaps the most rewarding aspect is seeing a wave of hope and empowerment re-energizing almost every other volunteer emergency response organization on the Coastside. It is deeply rewarding to see multi-agency emergency preparedness and response organizations – both professional and volunteer – coming together on the Coastside with the hope of a future unified response.