Welcome to Ojai Valley CERT




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).

Ojai Valley (CERT, Ham Radio, Red Cross)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ojai OK Drill survey -- call to action

Now that the 9/17/08 Ojai OK Drill is completed, The Office of Ventura County District Supervisor Steve Bennett is requesting participants to complete a survey. Surveys are being requested by October 3rd, 2008.

Survey participants would include everybody involved: Ojai Valley Residents who posted signs; Ojai Valley CERT participants; and others involved (Ham Radio, Red Cross, etc).

Please go to: http://ovok.countyofventura.org for the link to the survey.

As a bonus, this web-site conveniently has a link to the Reverse 911 signup site. I received my Reverse 911 call conveniently on my cellphone, so I know the system works.

6th Ojai Valley CERT class begins 9/24/08

On Wednesday 9/24/08, Sean Kellythorne and Paul Garth welcomed the 6th Ojai Valley CERT class (sponsored by Ventura County District Supervisor Steve Bennett) on the first day of their training (6 Wednesday evenings and 1 Saturday morning Final Drill).

The class was PACKED! -- I was really impressed with the turnout.

Capt Steve Lazenby (Santa Paula Fire Department) is the CERT instructor and was busy handing out materials -- I'm sure he was happy not having to lug it home after.

Sean and Paul's introductory remarks included: summary of the 9/17/08 Ojai OK Drill where nearly 700 signs within Ojai Valley were counted and communicated to the Fire Department within 1 hour; the front-page Ojai Valley News Article on 9/24; an appreciation for everyone's time and committment to take CERT class; a heads-up that Ojai Valley Amateur Radio Club will present Radio Communications on the 4th CERT class; and finally that CERT graduates and Ham Radio Operators will be on-hand to assist at the final Saturday Drill.

Monday, September 22, 2008

OK Ojai Drill -- Paul's Summary

During the OK Ojai Drill, Paul Garth was the Neighborhood Area Coordinator for West City of Ojai -- in FRS radio communication with several NERT Coordinators and in Ham Radio communication with the Emergency Operations Center.

OK Signs Counted by Neighborhood:

Oakview------------ --- 30
Mira Monte-----------236
Meiners Oaks-------- 153
West City --------------84
East City --------------101
East End Ojai -------- 44
Upper Ojai --------------1
Total 695

The Ojai Valley OK Drill, performed on September 17th, 2008, accomplished its primary objective – establishing effective communication.

In the weeks leading up to September 17th, the OK Sign was distributed on various web-sites (CERT, Ventura County, City of Ojai). The Ventura County Fire Department visited with 5th Graders and left signs to take home to their families. Signs were available in banks, libraries and given out at the Ojai Farmer’s Market.

Ojai Valley Residents participated by posting their OK Signs, which in an emergency/disaster, would be used by CERT and First Responders during Search and Rescue operations. Within the 1 hour drill, 695 OK Signs were counted with totals transmitted to the Ojai Police Department (Emergency Operations Center – EOC) via Ham Radio & GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service). To preserve integrity of the drill, please ensure you take down your sign and place in a convenient location.

The Ventura County Sheriffs Department participated by calling (using Reverse 911) approximately 12,000 Ojai Valley Residents. Information included: 1. Establish and practice your “Disaster Plan”, 2. Tune your radio to AM 1610 and 3. Post your “OK” sign so it’s visible from the street. I received my message via cellphone at 5:33PM.

The Brand new AM 1610 Radio Broadcast station was used to communicate details about the drill. Please contact the Ojai Police Department to provide constructive feedback regarding the radio’s reception.

Ojai Valley CERT divided the Ojai Valley into nine neighborhoods (Casitas Springs, Oak View, Mira Monte, Meiners Oaks, Arbolada/Foothil, West City Ojai, East City Ojai, East End and Upper Ojai). Each neighborhood has a Neighborhood Area Coordinator, responsible for all CERT Operations.

To further sub-divide each Neighborhood, Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams (NERTs) were created. Each NERT Coordinator establishes a rendezvous point for their respective teams to rally together quickly.

The Ojai Valley Amateur Radio Club (OVARC) provided FCC licensed operators for various positions. The EOC was manned by the Ojai Valley Emergency Coordinator (EC) who established a directed net for all Radio Operators. The EC can communicate with stations throughout the County, including the Office of Emergency Services in Ventura. Each Neighborhood Area Coordinator was provided a Radio Operator Shadow.

Within several neighborhoods, the NERT Coordinators communicated to the Neighborhood Area Coordinators using FRS (Family Radio Service) units.

During the drill, the following positions were manned at the EOC. CERT Incident Commander, Ojai Chief of Police, Ventura County Fire Department Public Information Officer and Battalion Chief.

Next to City Hall, the following were on hand – City of Ojai Mayor, Ventura County District 1 Supervisor and several aides.

Several other teams participated in the drill – American Red Cross, Oxnard CERT, and an embedded news reporter from Ojai Valley News (witnessing behind the scenes action during a search, helping count signs, and observing activities inside the EOC).

The drill demonstrated that, in an extremely short period of time, it is possible for a large community to effectively rally together. The following outcomes are possible: Fewer 911 calls; more self reliant residents; Professional First Responders focusing more specifically; City and County Officials communicating and making decisions effectively.

For further information:

-Call (805) 654-2703 to register for next CERT Class

-Download and print your OK Sign at http://ovok.countyofventura.org

Stayed tuned for the next major exercise -- Golden Guardian 2008.

OK Ojai Drill -- Sean's Summary

The following is a report from Sean Kellythorne. Sean was the CERT Incident Commander for the OK Ojai Drill and was stationed at the Ojai Police Station (Emergency Operations Center) on Ventura Street.

OK Ojai Exercise

The OK Ojai Disaster Preparedness exercise turned out to be a great success.
We had more than a hundred volunteers taking part in the exercise, including CERT trained members, Red Cross Volunteers, Ham Radio Operators and people who just wanted to help. We also had almost seven hundred families that put their “OK” signs in their windows.

The Ojai Police Department opened the Incident Command Center for our Amateur Radio Communication Unit. The Chief of Police was on site, along with the County Fire Department Battalion Chief and Public Information Officer.

The new Reverse 911 and the AM 1610 local radio were tested and shown to be invaluable tools in rapidly notifying residents of potential problems. Once the exercise started the local Incident Command System of the Amateur Radio Communication team permitted us to assess the exercise within one hour.

So what does this mean to Ojai Valley citizens? It means that the Ojai Valley is more OK than it has ever been in the event of a disaster. It means: that in a disaster every OK sign means one less home to check out; there are more than one hundred trained volunteers who can be in action immediately and supplement a limited Fire and Police force; we have an effective emergency communications network in the event power failures; it means that we have a community that cares about our families, friends and neighbors.

It also demonstrated the effectiveness of dedicated and trained volunteers supporting our community. It is a testament to the people of Ojai Valley and our willingness to volunteer and do what needs to be done for our community when the chips are down. As local Ojai Valley residents we encourage you to participate in your community as a volunteer responder.

In my opinion, Ojai Valley has proven to be more than OK. It is outstanding.

The thank you list is too long to include everyone however there are some that merit special notice.

Supervisor Steve Bennett and his representatives for Ventura County support. Ojai Mayor Sue Horgan for City of Ojai support. Chief of Police Bruce Norris for opening the doors to the Ham Radio Group. The Ojai Valley News for publicity.

Sean Kellythorne
Paul Garth
Beth Von Gunten

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ventura County Board of Supervisors Meeting

Sean Kellythorne and Beth Von Gunten of Ojai Valley CERT were invited by Ventura County District Supervisor Steve Bennett to present information on Ojai OK Drill (9/17/08) to Ventura County Board of Supervisors.

Thank you to Supervisor Bennett for effectively reviewing the intent of the drill and good job to Sean and Beth for their comments.

It was interesting listening to the other Supervisors generating comments of interest about the OK Sign Drill in their districts.

Please review the video at:


Board Regular Meeting - 9/9/2008 -- Jump to Section 27.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ojai CERT at Ojai Farmer's Market Sunday 14th

Ojai Valley CERT will have a table at the weekly Ojai Farmer's Market http://www.ojaicertifiedfarmersmarket.com/ to hand out information about the upcoming Sept 17th Ojai OK Drill, to discuss CERT, and sign-up people for the next class (beginning Sept 24th).

Please stop by our booth.

Update: OK... We didn't have a booth, but Sean and myself handed out over 300 OK signs which was a great opportunity.

Ojai OK Drill - specific web-sites

The Ojai OK Drill is being taken very seriously by County Supervisor Bennett's Office -- we even have a subdomain on the County Web-Site.

Check out: http://ovok.countyofventura.org

Ojai Valley CERT has a specific site at: http://sites.google.com/site/ojaiok20080917/

New CERT Class (starting Sept 24th) - sign up!!!

I'm extremely pleased to announce that County Supervisor Steve Bennett's Office will be sponsoring the 6th Ojai Valley CERT Class.

Beginning on September 24th for six Wednesdays from 7:00PM to 9:30PM, concluding with a final Saturday Class/Drill on November 1st. Capt. Steve Lazenby (Santa Paula Fire Department) will be instructing.

Please register for the class by calling Cindy Cantle at (805) 654-2703 or email Cindy.cantle@ventura.org.

Register early to reserve a spot. Timing is great, because Golden Guardian is coming up on November 13th - the biggest state-wide disaster drill in history. Check this blog for more details forthcoming.

Location of CERT Class - Oak View Park and Resource Center, 555 Mahoney Street, Oak View.

Please click here for a flyer: http://portal.countyofventura.org/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/BOS/OVOK_DOCS/CERTSIGNUPFLYER.PDF

Reverse 911 to be used before Ojai OK Drill

I've been informed by Ojai Chief of Police Bruce Norris that the Reverse 911 system will be used to communicate out to residents just before Wednesday Sept 17th at 7:00PM to remind everyone to do three things:

1. Establish and practice your Disaster Plan
2. Tune into AM Radio Station 1610
3. Post your OK sign in a street-facing window

This web-site covered the Reverse 911 system. Please ensure you register both landline and cellphone numbers.


This article from The Ojai Post goes into further details of the Reverse 911 Drill: http://www.ojaipost.com/2008/09/reverse_911_mass_call_feature.shtml

This article was posted in Ventura County Star:

Advertising the OK Sign Drill

County Supervisor Steve Bennett's office has done a great job of recognizing and advertising Ojai Valley CERT this week.

-Tuesday AM, the Ojai OK CERT Drill was recognized at the County Board of Supervisor's Meeting.

-Tuesday PM, at the Ojai City Council meeting, Supervisor Bennett detailed the specifics of the Ojai OK Drill

-Wednesday, the Ojai Valley News had a front page article discussing the new AM 1610 Radio Station and Supervisor Bennett had an OpEd piece about the CERT Drill

-Friday, the Ojai Valley News will include the OK Sign and instructions as an insert.