In attendance: Chuck Rader (Cox Division), Davina Morgan-Witts, Ray Froess, Betty Froess, Susan Schwaderer, Leland Mah, Marion Yager, Robert Yager, William Brooks, Sally Suckow, John Suckow.

Most of the group met at 6.20 p.m. at Bill Brooks’ house so as to review the contents of our division cache, and how to get into it.

The group reconvened at 7.00pm for the main meeting:

  • We briefly reviewed upcoming training opportunities. These are updated and detailed in the monthly newsletter sent by City Manager, Crystal Bothelio. Please a) look out for the newsletters, b) read them, c) sign up for training/volunteer opportunities that are relevant and of interest—with the aim of attending three or more a year, so as to keep your skills fresh. And, please do not wait until the last minute to sign up because training sessions may be cancelled if there are insufficient attendees – which is what happened with the shelter simulation workshop which should have taken place recently—2 weeks before the event, 15 people had signed up but 18 were needed to run the exercise, so it was cancelled.

  • Under new business, Chuck Rader (Cox Argonaut captain) spoke about the three-day CERT conference he recently attended in San Diego. Some of the take outs from this are:

    • California governor Gavin Newsom is very enthusiastic about CERT – as shown by the fact that 425 participants (including Chuck) were fully funded for the 3-night conference, including hotel accommodation.

    • The vision at the state level for CERT is that each county will have an organization similar to Orange County’s, which regularly makes use of their CERT volunteers—for example, during the recent wildfires, CERT members were tasked with providing food etc. to the firefighters (obviously at a safe distance from the active fires), thus freeing up the emergency services to focus on the core matter in hand.

    • There is a movement to standardize equipment, training, forms etc., across all CERT in California, and to better link the many individual city/county groups, so that CERT members could be efficiently mobilized to work in other parts of the State, if a need arose. The model here is Florida.

  • Chuck Rader led the training element of our meeting, discussing the key elements of the division level Emergency Operation Plan (EOP), including:

    • Activation: We must wait to be activated by an official channel such as Alert SCC, City of Saratoga emergency responder telephone tree, or emergency broadcast radio communication; but this does not prevent us assessing our immediate areas as concerned neighbors (but until activated, we should not be wearing CERT vests, etc.)

      Please make sure to have fresh batteries in your radio and keep FRS radios tuned to Channel 11 as communication will likely come down from the central emergency operations center (EOC) to the licensed ham operators and then to the members of the division by FRS. (FRS back up channels are 10 and 12; if your radio has a code option–the little number to the top right of the larger number on some radios–set it to 0.

    • Setting up and operating a field CERT Incident Command Post (ICP) and Overview of CERT communications:

      Our default meeting location is Bill Brooks’ house, where the cache is located (address removed for public minutes), but the reality is that the location of the incident command post in an emergency may need to move close to where the emergency is—which is why it is important to be able to communicate by radio (on the assumption that mobile communications could be either out of action or overwhelmed).

      Chuck encouraged us as a group to follow Cox division’s lead and hold regular FRS radio check-ins to make sure that we know how to use the radios and understand how to relay messages from person to person, thus enabling messages to be passed across a wider distance.

      Optimally, we should have more hams in the division. Currently there is just Ray and Betty Froess, Bill Brooks and Davina (Madelyn Lipford is also a ham operator but is traveling for the foreseeable future).

      If you are interested in becoming ham licensed – contact Davina for information – in addition to the one day “ham cram” that many take with a test at the end of the day; there are plentiful resources online, including YouTube video talks and interactive test papers to help you learn in your own time, and then you can take the quick multiple choice test on any of the many testing days.

    • Establishing, staffing and operating a field medical treatment site, including how to best utilize spontaneous unaffiliated/untrained volunteers (SUVs)

      Chuck asked us to consider how we would function as a group and in teams during an emergency, and how we could best utilize unaffiliated/untrained people if they volunteered their services.

      Some of the considerations for a field medical treatment site include: the need for one centralized site vs. multiple decentralized locations. Also, the site(s) should be easily accessible by ambulances and/or other emergency vehicles, and should provide for rapid expansion, if required. Leadership of a field medical treatment site takes special knowledge and skills in closely managing attending personnel in a dynamic, high-stress environment. Head-to-toe assessments should be conducted expeditiously (and always with permission when the person is conscious); and, optimally, always by two CERT members working together, both to ensure a thorough examination and to avoid harassment claims. Documentation of incoming patients and their ongoing status while under treatment or observation is a critical element in exercising leadership of a field medical treatment site.

      Spontaneous, untrained/unaffiliated volunteers (SUV’s) may provide an additional source of manpower to assist with post-disaster response, but there are some key caveats associated with their use. They must be “locally vetted” to ensure they will not be put in a position that exceeds their knowledge or skills. They must be closely monitored in execution of any assigned duties. They should be provided a clear, concise briefing of what CERT expectations are of their use. Finally, it must be remembered that they are not covered under the liability protections of the DSW-V program, unlike CERT members, so they must never be placed in positions where their safety and health are at risk.