I wanted to correct the Patch article entitled "NELA Neighborhoods to get Grisly for 'Great California ShakeOut Drill,' dated October 12, 2012.
The ASNC did not submit a request to be a Shakeout test case, as the article maintains. Rather, a competition was announced by the City in 2010, and I decided as the Public Safety Committee Chair to submit a response on behalf of the ASNC. It was sent unvetted by the board, who were apathetic about the competition at the time. I had to answer three questions, mainly dealing with what I've done so far for emergency preparedness in ASNC, as well as how I would use the ASNC to increase community participation in the ShakeOut exercise.
Surprisingly, my response won the city competition. However, soon after starting the planning I decided to pull out of this activity for several reasons, including the fact it had been delayed by over a year, I felt left out of the vendor selection process, the chosen vendor had no experience with organizing neighborhoods, my ideas would be stolen and used for profit, etc.
I was both right and wrong. They did use every idea I dared tell them (5-step plan including neighborhood pre-assessment for dangers, pre-established central meeting area, CERT search & rescue plan, use of FRS radios for communication, use of Red Cross' Safe and Well website, use of Green and Red door hangers by residents to indicate household status, etc). However, this drill was a mere repeat of the drill I organized last year called "Hermon ShakeOut: The Play." The plan was for all five ASNC communities to be involved and to step it up from last year's drill, but apparently after I left they decided involving all five communities was too overwhelming.
This is very interesting since the contract states they need to generate and test the completed community emergency response plan template which has been customized specifically for each of the five ASNC communities.
However, in the end I regret not being involved because the City's EMD and vendor did a great job with the scaled-back, limited initiative (which for the $190,000 price they should have.) I also thought Roy did a great job as CERT Incident Commander.
The City is going to try and convince all other Neighborhood Councils to use the template through training sessions and a video made during this particular exercise to assist NCs. It will be a hard sell since no other NC was allowed input. I've learned that buy-in can be more easily obtained if you involve the targeted audience from the beginning. They should have brought together the top three NCs to provide input instead of just ASNC. It would also help with credibiity.
Of note, my newly forming company is working on an off-the-shelf product for communities to help them easily and independently develop their own plans.
ASNC Public Safety Cmte