EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS ON THE LOCAL LEVEL
Who Are Our First Responders?
When the City of Rancho Palos Verdes was founded in 1973, it was incorporated as a "contract city." As such, we maintain a very small permanent staff (only 45 full-time employees for a population of approximately 41,000 residents) and contract with a variety of private firms and other governmental agencies to provide the majority of local services to our residents. Examples of contracted services include trash collection, roadway repairs, park maintenance, building and safety inspections and animal control. We also contract with Los Angeles County to provide our local law enforcement, public safety, and health services. Therefore, during a disaster or emergency, our "local first responders" are the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s, Fire and Health Departments. By contracting with the County for these services, we are able to tap into a much larger pool of resources and expertise than we would otherwise be able to provide on our own.
For example, the Lomita Sheriff’s Station maintains and updates a list of our critical facilities and pharmaceutical distribution sites. There are a total of 23 identified critical facilities in our region that are checked by the Sheriff’s Department on each shift, every day. In addition, we have a four member community-based policing team, know as the CORE Team, that has taken a very active roll in local school safety. The CORE Team has prepared Safety and Disaster Plans for each school site and team members participate in their respective school’s disaster drills.
Are There Any Local Citizen Emergency Response Groups?
In addition to the impressive emergency resources provided by the County, the City is very fortunate to have several volunteer civilian response teams that assist our first responders and our community during an emergency or disaster.
Peninsula Emergency Response Team (PERT)
The Peninsula Emergency Response Team or "PERT" is a group of volunteer Peninsula residents trained to assist their families, neighbors and community in the event of any disaster. PERT currently has 80 members and is used to supplement the efforts of law enforcement, fire and other emergency response teams during disasters such as earthquakes, fires, severe weather and terrorist attacks. The members are trained in the areas of fire suppression, search and rescue, first aid and CPR, utility control, disaster medicine and hazardous materials. Acting as individuals first, then later as members of teams, trained PERT volunteers can fan out within their particular area, extinguishing small fires, turning off natural gas and water inlets to damaged homes, performing light search and rescue, and rendering basic first aid. Trained volunteers also offer an important potential work force to service organizations in non-hazardous functions such as shelter support, crowd control and evacuation. In March 2003, PERT will embark on additional training provided by the American Red Cross to enhance their skills. The courses will include disaster services, shelter operations and mass triage.
Disaster Communications Service (DCS)
The Los Angeles County Disaster Communications Service or "DCS" is a volunteer organization that uses amateur ham radio to provide backup communications in case of telephone failure to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The DCS at the Lomita Sheriff’s Station is very active with 114 members, all of whom are registered with the County as official communications specialists. In addition to maintaining permanent radio facilities at the Lomita Station, the DCS has a back up radio station located at Rancho Palos Verdes City Hall. The DCS members use this equipment to provide backup communications to all areas of Rancho Palos Verdes, the Lomita Sheriff's station, and the Palos Verdes Unified School District school sites. Last year, the DCS also began joint training efforts with PERT, so that when a PERT team goes into the field, a DCS members accompanies them to provide vital communication link between the various teams and the Lomita Station.
Equestrian Response Team (ERT)
The newest volunteer emergency response team on the Palos Verdes Peninsula is a certified unit of the Los Angeles County Equine Response Team or "ERT." This group is trained to conduct emergency rescue and evacuation for the many horses that are kept on the Peninsula. Five of 18 Peninsula area members have completed all three levels of training conducted in Agoura Hills and two local ERT members have been appointed to the ERT Core Team, which directs the groups operations countywide. Local training classes on the Peninsula are scheduled to begin during the first week of March 2003.
If you are interested in joining any of these organizations, contact Sgt. Dave Rozas, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the Lomita Sheriff’s Station, at (310) 891-3227, FAX (323) 415-3098, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
What Is The City Doing?
One of the City’s primary responsibilities to its citizens is to provide for the maximum protection of life and property from both natural and man-made hazards and disasters. Last year, the City Council unanimously approved the creation of a new Emergency Preparedness Task Force with this goal in mind. This new City advisory board, which consists of fifteen resident volunteers appointed by the City Council, has been charged with the responsibility of advising the City on ways to improve its programs and resources in order to be able to effectively respond to a wide variety of emergency and disaster situations. The Task Force, which has been meeting monthly since September 2002, is currently preparing a list of recommendations regarding forging new and strengthening existing ties with a wide variety of organizations would provide assistance to the City during a time need, such as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and our local volunteer disaster response groups, as well as proposing programs to communicate with and educate residents about the importance of preparedness in case of disasters and emergencies. The Task Force’s recommendations are scheduled to be presented to the City Council in April 2003.