The Ojai Valley Amateur Radio Club (OVARC) presented on Thursday, May 15th an "Introduction to Emergency Communications", focusing on Ham Radio, to the 5th Ojai Valley CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) class. Capt Steve Lazenby (Santa Paula Fire Department and CERT instructor) generously gave the group over 30 minutes to deliver their presentation and graciously introduced us as an important, and often under-estimated, group of dedicated communications volunteers.
Tim Shates (K6CTS) began with a discussion about various communication mediums, which are readily available without requiring formal training -- GMRS (FCC license without exam offering ability to use repeaters for extended range), FRS (public channels useful for local communications), CB Radio (typically used on freeways, but still popular within cities). A lucky winner was the recipient of a pair of FRS (Family Radio System) radios, donated by Tim.
Sean Kellythorne (KI6MGI) reviewed various components of CERT being developed in the Ojai Valley with a focus on the upcoming two-day Ham Radio class being offered, during September 2008, by Ham Radio veteran trainer Gordon West. OVARC has negotiated a great deal for all CERT students/graduates -- the only costs are the nominal fees for materials and testing (approximately $30). The normal $300 per participant fee is being waived by Mr. West. Sean reminded the class that CERT graduates would be invited to assist in the upcoming graduation/drill and the designated Neighborhood Area Coordinators would be invited to introduce themselves.
Wayne Francis (W6OEU), Ventura County Area 5 Emergency Coordinator (participating as a CERT student) representing Amateur Radio for the Ojai Valley, spoke about the importance of all forms of communications -- including groups such as VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). Wayne frequently reminds us that there are many voluntary opportunities within disaster communications which do not require Ham Radio licensing.
Capt Bruce Norris (Ventura County Deputy Sheriff, based in the Ojai Valley) was acknowledged as being very supportive of OVARC by providing space within the Police Department on Ventura Ave in Ojai -- the official Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during an emergency/disaster. OVARC houses radio/computer equipment and has several dedicated antennas mounted on the roof. Capt Norris is attending the CERT class as a student -- indicative that Professional First Responders are always learning & training.
The nine Ojai Valley CERT neighborhoods, as defined by Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett's office, was outlined for review -- Casitas Springs, Oak View, Mira Monte, Meiners Oaks, Arbolada, West Ojai, East Ojai, East End and Upper Ojai.
Paul Garth (KI6USA) related components of CERT training to communications by dividing the defined nine neighborhoods into NERTs (Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams), with the importance of each CERT member knowing who the following are within their neighborhood: Area Coordinator, NERT Coordinator and (most importantly) the specific location of their pre-assigned rendezvous point. A discussion of the Incident Command System explained the reporting & communications relationship of CERT to the Fire Department, with the importance of establishing communications and following specific directives as trained in class. An example described how a mobile home park (NERT) could effectively use FRS radios to gather information (using standard Fire Department terminology). The NERT Coordinator gathers actionable information and requests a Ham Radio Operator to transmit information/requests to the Area Coordinator and EOC for delivery to the Fire Department - CERT teams can support Emergency Response Personnel in efficiently providing frontline information.
The presentation ended with an invitation for all CERT students/graduates to attend the upcoming Ojai 4th of July Parade -- displaying a level of committment to the CERT program for the City of Ojai.
Welcome to Ojai Valley CERT
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This blog provides information to those interested in CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) activities in The Ojai Valley, CA. CERT works in partnership with OVARC (Ojai Valley Amateur Radio Club) which provides Ham Radio Communications - http://www.ovarc.org/.
http://www.citizencorps.gov/cert is a good place to begin learning about CERT. The fact is, immediately after a major disaster, each of us will be on our own while Emergency Services Personnel (Fire, Hospital, Police, Hospitals, etc) figure out what happened and how to respond. CERT teaches valuable self-preservation skills and empowers each of us to be of service to ourselves, family, neighborhood and community. By integrating CERT with Ham Radio, citizens can effectively communicate actionable information from the field to the Emergency Operations Center -- help will be on the way sooner.
Please check out the CERT Calendar & Map at the bottom of this web-page and sign our Guestbook (top right of page).