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June 14, 2011 > Strategic Actions For Emergencies program

Strategic Actions For Emergencies program

By Abraham Cruz

Recent natural disasters such as the earthquakes in Japan, flooding in Tennessee and tornadoes in Missouri all underscore the need for emergency response from both uniformed, professionals and citizens with enough training to care for their communities.

The Strategic Actions For Emergencies (SAFE) program was founded in the early 2000s by the Milpitas Office of Emergency Services (OES) and is a volunteer, community-based emergency response unit consisting of teams throughout Milpitas. In many other cities, the program is known as the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). SAFE members are trained and support first responders to save lives and reduce property damage in the event of a major disaster. Such citizens can benefit their communities by assisting other citizens. The SAFE program is funded through a combination of city funds and grant money.

The City of Milpitas is divided into eight neighborhoods, with a SAFE team assigned to each. Followed by team number, the neighborhoods are The Pines (1), Hillcrest Estates (2), Parktown/Foothills Estates (3), Reflections (4), Sunnyhills (5), Cardoza Park (6), Midtown (7), and Town Center (8). Each neighborhood has a cache of emergency supplies for minor emergencies. There is a Care and Shelter Container at Milpitas High School with tools, food, medical supplies and toiletries for citizens displaced by major disasters.

The SAFE training program consists of one 2 1/2-hour weekday, evening class per week for seven weeks, with a Saturday morning course review and disaster simulation. Each class is designed to teach certain aspects of emergency preparedness and response, such as fire safety, basic first aid, search and rescue, team organization and disaster psychology and preparing a disaster kit. Successful completion of the training program will earn registration as a Disaster Service worker.

Actual emergencies may not be the greatest challenge for SAFE volunteers. Maintaining communication between team members, increasing public awareness and involvement are concerns. To address them, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Sean Simonson hosted a SAFE Team Leader meeting on May 31, 2011 at Milpitas Fire Station One to devise strategies for more comprehensive safety training and to publicize SAFE. The discussion resulted in action items such as assembling neighborhood maps with pre-assigned walking routes to cover more areas quickly and efficiently, updating SAFE team rosters and contact information, conducting a simple drill with rendezvous points with directions to an emergency cache and identifying and addressing training needs. Furthermore, it was suggested that team and community members sign up for Alert SCC (, Santa Clara County's emergency alert system, which can be used to issue emergency warnings and information to cell phones, mobile devices, to email or land-line phones.

Members of the community are encouraged to attend the next SAFE Team Leader meeting and learn more or contact Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Sean Simonson at (408) 586-2810. Also visit

Strategic Actions For Emergencies (SAFE)
Tuesday, June 28
6:30 p.m.
Fire Station One
777 South Main St., Milpitas
(408) 586-2810

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