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March 22, 2011 > Emergency preparedness

Emergency preparedness

By Abraham Cruz

Care and Shelter Container

The Milpitas Emergency Preparedness Commission (EPC) received a report on the Care and Shelter Container located at Milpitas High School. The container will store items such as food, medical supplies and shelter for emergencies. While Milpitas High School and the California Architects Board have provided the location, the shelter is owned and operated by the City. Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Sean Simonson will meet with the Care and Shelter coordinator the week beginning March 21 to order the supplies from various vendors. The city had attempted to coordinate with the American Red Cross but lack of communication with the school district meant it would take too long to obtain supplies.

The Strategic Action for Emergencies (SAFE) Program

The SAFE team consists of community members who assist fellow citizens and emergency response staff in the event of an emergency. A SAFE team meeting is planned for Thursday April 2, 2011 at the Senior Center. The city has organized SAFE teams in eight neighborhoods. There are five SAFE captains and the meeting will focus on filling the available captaincy positions, defining the captain's role within the team.

SAFE trainings occur two to three times a year and each training session last for between two and three hours. Training sessions review basic safety skills such as dispensing first aid and fire suppression. The EPC webpage contains scheduling and more information about the SAFE program, lists training sessions and explains certifications. Anyone interested in joining SAFE should contact Sean Simonson for more information.

In the past, the SAFE program has considered utilizing a Special Populations registry to direct assistance in an emergency; vulnerable groups such as seniors and the disabled would receive help. Might the database be an intrusion on privacy? A citizen could volunteer information to public safety dispatchers who would then direct emergency response to the appropriate location. Placards with colored sides (green for fine, red for need assistance) were also considered as an alternative to citizens divulging personal information.

EPS Chair Russ Cherry broached the subject of soft story buildings within the city. Such structures have weak foundations or supporting structures above ground that are prone to collapse during an earthquake. Prime examples of soft story buildings were the houses in San Francisco's Marina District that suffered great damage during the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Several of the buildings in Milpitas, particularly those built pre-1960s, including car ports with concrete dividers, are particularly susceptible to collapse during an earthquake. Cherry will present updates at the next EPC meeting on May 19, 2011.

A letter soliciting food donations to the Robert Randall School Disaster Drill Exercise was sent to various vendors within the city; as of March 17, only two had confirmed they will donate supplies. The exercise will be held April 6 and will involve 393 students, 45 staff members and 100 volunteers, including Milpitas Fire Department, to practice evacuation and extrication of injured persons. Wal-Mart has expressed interest in donating supplies. Anyone interested in donating supplies can contact the Milpitas Fire Department at (408) 586-2800.

For more information, visit or contact Sean Simonson, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator at (408) 586-2810.

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