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)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ventura County CERT Coordinator position filled

I'm very pleased to announce we now have a Ventura County Fire Department Program Adminstrator for CERT - Ramona J. Armijo, PhD.

For CERT Groups, Ramona is our liaison between Ventura County Fire Department and all Ventura County CERT groups.

This new partnership will encourage growth in CERT; create more training programs; foster a sharing of ideas; work towards fund-raising projects and grants; and build a strong community involvement towards disaster preparedness.

We are all looking forward to working with you.

Link to VCFD News Release:


Friday, October 24, 2008

Golden Guardian Presentation & Drill 11/15/08

On Saturday, November 15th between 10AM and 2PM, The Ojai Valley Emergency Response Team (comprising Ojai Valley CERT, Ojai Valley Amateur Radio Club and American Red Cross - Ojai) will hold an Emergency Preparedness Presentation and Practical Drill.

Golden Guardian (November 13th thru 18th) is the largest statewide emergency preparedness drill in the world.

Event Location:

New Wine Harvest Fellowship
441 Church Rd. (corner of Cuyama & Church)
Ojai, CA 93023

Call to action:

-All Ojai Valley Emergency Response Team members are requested to attend
-Presentations made by various leaders of City, and County Agencies.
-The General Public are invited to listen to presentations and observe drills

Please go to this web-site for further details, including agenda.


6th Ojai Valley CERT Graduation & Drill 11/1/08

The 6th Ojai Valley CERT Class will hold their final class, practical drill and graduation ceremony this coming Saturday, November 1st at the Oak View Park and Resource Center, 555 Mahoney Street, Oak View. Final class is 10:00AM. Practical Drill begins at 11:00AM. Duration of drill is approximately 90 minutes.

Call to action:

-All CERT Graduates to volunteer their time to assist in the drill exercise - posing as victims; reviewing CERT activities (cribbing & lifting; fire suppression; medical/triage; Incident Command; Search and Rescue, etc).

-Ojai Valley Neighborhood Area Coordinators and NERT Coordinators to meet graduates.

-Ojai Valley Amateur Radio Operators to assist with communications

-The General Public to observe CERT in action and sign-up for next class.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ojai Day 2008 (Oct 18th -- Libbey Park)

Ojai Valley Amateur Radio Club included Ojai Valley CERT in the 2008 Ojai Day Celebration in Libbey Park, Ojai on Saturday, October 18th.

CERT/Ham Radio Operators manning the booth throughout the event included:

Wayne Francis, Tim Shates, Paul Garth, Sean Kellythorne, John Cuthbert, Matt Downer and Brian Reid.

It was a great opportunity to talk Radio Communications with the public. Several CERT students stopped by (Note: The OK Sign helped!) and are now keen to get involved with GMRS radio communications. Several names were taken of interested future CERT students.

Surviving a Long Term Power Outage - Hurricane Ike

This came from a volunteer who worked during Hurricane Ike. Apologies for formatting -- don't have time to clean up the document, but useful reading.

Post by KK5CA

Surviving a Long Term Power Outage - Hurricane Ike

A fundamental principle of CERT training is to prepare individuals to bemore self-sufficient and less dependent upon the post-disaster responses. Four weeks after Hurricane Ike made landfall, and two weeks after having commercial power restored, I thought I would document what helped me make it through this extended power outage.

This was the largest power outage ever in the state of Texas, affecting more than 2.5 million residential and commercial customers, and perhaps as many as 4-5 million people. It was wide-spread and profound. A CERT-trained power company employee said his employer was very close to beginning the process of shutting down the entire SE Texas power grid (whatever that means). We were fortunate to have mild weather following this hurricane, with a few nights in the 50s and 60s,d aytime highs barely above 80, and low humidity.

I arrived home from an out-of-town trip about two days after Hurricane Ike. I thought it too far after the event to spend time performing a neighborhood disaster survey and reporting it to the county EOC.POWER Most neighbors were using gasoline, diesel, propane, or natural gas, generators during some, if not all, hours of the day. I saw a few neighbor ssharing their power, evidenced by extension cords lying across streets. My5 kW generator hooks into the house circuit breaker box through a manual Connecticut Electric transfer box. < href="http://www.connecticut-elecric.com/" target="_blank">http://www.connecticut-elecric.comhref="http://elecric.com/" target="_blank">elecric.com > This provides generator power to five pre-selected circuits: water-well pump (220V), kitchen, 2 bedrooms, and the living room. In anticipation of the storm, I topped off the 6-gallon generator fuel tank,and filled two 5-gallon cans. An outboard motor type hand siphon bulb (Attwood, from Bass Pro Shops) makes filling the tank easier than liftingthe 40+ pound gas can. 2-1/2 gallon cans might have been a better choice. I used about 30 gallons of gasoline total during the two weeks without power, at $3.50-4 per gallon.I ran the generator for only 3-4 hours in the evening to chill the refrigerator and allow the water well pump to re-charge the storage tank. It did not seem prudent to allow it to run all night long just to keep the bedroom ceiling fan running while we slept. Several neighbors did run their generators all night, perhaps even 24-hours a day.I had several 7 and 11 AH gel cell batteries that were salvaged from non-working UPS units. These powered a 12 VDC B&W analog television/AM-FMreceiver, allowing me to get the morning news without starting the generator. Running an automotive 12 VDC fan (like used to be mounted ondashboards) drained these batteries before the night was over. My 1 A gelcell charger was inadequate to fully re-charge these during 8-10 hours atwork. With just 8 V at the terminals, the maximum charging current was 0.2A, probably indicating the internal resistance has increased and thebatteries are beyond their useful life.A battery powered alarm clock (single AA cell) was useful. Many cell phones and wrist watches also have an alarm feature. WATER All homes in our neighborhood are on at least two lots with individual waterwells. When necessary, a water hose with a female x female adapter allowsone neighbor's well to temporarily provide water to another. I did notobserve this practice this time, perhaps because so many residents hadgenerators. Some co-workers dipped water from their own or the neighborhoodswimming pool to flush solid waste out of toilets. A very quick cold showerevery other day was tolerable, barely. A heavy duty hook securely placedhigh up in the shower would have allowed a solar shower bag to be used.FOODI returned home 2-1/2 days after we lost power. I discarded everything inthe refrigerator and freezer, except bottled water, soft drinks andmargarine. When some commercial stores re-opened, I was able to avoid theurgent need to visit them by eating food we already had. After a few daysand the initial surge had passed, I missed getting in the door by 15minutes. My usually open 24-hours a day store was only open 7A-7P. I triedagain the following day. All frozen, bakery, dairy, and fresh meat productshelves were completely empty. My purchases focused on non-refrigeratedfood:* tuna in water - 3 oz size cans* low sodium Ritz crackers* bananas, apples, oranges - fresh and dried* Individual cartons of 2% white & chocolate milk; similar to juiceboxes, tastes better than powdered milk, and are available in 1% and 1%lactose free. < www.farmlanddairies.com/Little%20Milk.htm >* 8 oz Minute Maid orange juice* granola bars* almonds, walnuts, trail mix* instant oatmeal* instant coffee - Nescafe Tasters Choice - 2gm packet (also availablewith cream and sugar; not tried)Once opened, food that was not immediately consumed was kept in the freezersection of the refrigerator, even if some of it occasionally became frozen.COOKINGWhen the generator was running, I had use of the microwave oven. Mostoften, I cooked on the side-burner of the propane BBQ grill, on the patio,just outside the kitchen door. I did not find it necessary to pull out the2-burner propane camping stove. One day, I grilled fresh chicken, and weate that for two consecutive meals, kept in the freezer from one meal to thenext. Most of our meals were eaten on paper plates and with plasticutensils.LIGHTINGWhen all the lights are completely out and your eyes have adjusted to thedarkness, a very bright light isn't necessary, you just need a little morelight. I do not like any flashlight which requires two hands to turn on andoff (sorry Maglight). I found a 2 AA cell flashlight with a switch and on aneck lanyard to be very useful. I purchased a Ray-o-Vac industrial model atLowes shortly before the storm. My old REI 2 AA cell headlamp was helpfulwhen cooking on the BBQ grill.Single LED stick-up lights (3 AAA cells) can be found at CVS pharmacy,around $10 for 3. Inverting a white paper or Styrofoam cup over theseproduces a nice area glow that is less annoying. I found the white lightfrom these to be more useful for reading than other light.In the bathroom, I found nothing better than a TapLight. These use 4 AAcells, and are available at many stores (Target, CVS) for $10 ea. They canbe found on many internet stores at 6 for $20-30. Buy these before thepower goes out, because they can't be found on the shelves afterwards.HOUSINGNot many modern houses are designed for temperature control without thecentral heating or cooling system. Not many even have screened windows anddoors. Temporary screens can be added to doors, allowing them to be openwhile excluding mosquitoes. Often called walk-through door screens, theycan be purchased from internet stores. < www.ecobottoms.com/category/.1/ > Installing one on our double-wideFrench door onto the patio allowed the cool night air to flow through ourhouse. I intend to purchase another one for the front door.COMMUNICATIONSThis falls into two categories; getting information from commercial sourcesand maintaining contact with family. I previously mentioned using a batterypowered analog TV and AM/FM radios. In February 2009, all non-digitalover-the-air television broadcasts will cease. Post storm, I found theequipment which might allow my battery powered analog television to beusable in the digital broadcast era. < www.ezdigitaltv.com/Artec_T3A_Pro.html >< www.winegarddirect.com/cview.asp?c=Digital%20Converter%20Boxes >Our under-ground telephone lines continued to work uninterrupted, andgenerally not overloaded. Cell phones were mostly usable, with textmessaging more reliable than making a voice call. Some people reportedhaving to drive a few miles to get a signal. My closest cell site had agenerator for the duration of the outage. My cable television and internet service was completely out for the sameperiod that I was without commercial power. Being cable-based, they do notoffer dial-up service. Once power was restored to my employer, I could readmy E-mail there.My HF and VHF/UHF equipment at home was unaffected. Not even the antennaswere damaged. This allowed voice and radio-based E-mail using the Winlink2000 system. Having redundant VHF/UHF gateway stations in the area helpedensure at least one of them survived the outage. I found several VHF 1200bps usable during the outage period, so it was not necessary to use Pactor 1(200 bps) on HF and go out of the area or to one of the in-area RMS Pactorgateway stations. That was always an option if needed.SUMMARYPre-disaster preparation can make a difference in the quality of life duringthe recovery period. I did not find it necessary to purchase ice or water.I did not need to stand in line at a POD. I did not eat MREs or otherlong-storage (and very high sodium) food. I avoided the longest gasolinelines. I think the dogma of preparing for 72-hours before help arrives iswishful thinking and the barest minimum. Rational people should think aboutbeing prepared to be on their own for at least a week after a wide spreadincident. People in the affected area are unable to do little more thanhelp themselves. Assistance must come from those who are unaffected or fromoutside the affected area; and self-sufficient and organized teams aregreatly preferred over individual responders

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ojai Valley Amateur Radio Club CERT Presentation

On Wednesday, October 15th, Captain Steve Lazenby (Santa Paula Fire Department) graciously gave the Ojai Valley Amateur Radio Club (http://www.ovarc.org/) over 30 minutes to discuss Emergency Radio Communication with the 6th Ojai Valley CERT class.

Wayne Francis (W6OEU) led the presentation with an overview of Ham Radio, Disaster Service Worker Cards, and the upcoming Ojai Day OVARC booth.

Tim Shates (K6CTS) discussed FRS and GMRS radio and a lucky CERT student won a pair of FRS/GMRS radios. Please check-out this link for a recommended GMRS radio http://www.gmrsoutlet.com/product.php?productid=12&cat=3&page=1.

Paul Garth (KI6USA) concluded the presentation with an overview of Incident Command System, Neighborhood Areas, Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams, Rendezous Points, etc. A brief scenario was discussed regarding how a typical CERT team would enter a building during a Search and Rescue operation and communicate from the field to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Several questions were fielded from the CERT students.

OVARC hopes that CERT students will seriously consider becoming a Ham Operator, or at least acquire a GMRS license and radio.

City Hall Presentation (Golden Guardian; Ojai OK)

On Tuesday, October 14th, Paul Garth made a short presentation to the Ojai City Council.

First topic outlined the upcoming Golden Guardian Drill - the biggest state-wide disaster response drill. On November 13th at 10AM, "Drop, Cover and Hold". More information can be found at www.shakeout.org. On November 15th from 10AM to 2PM, Ojai Valley CERT will team up with Ojai Red Cross, Ojai Valley Amateur Radio Club and Santa Paula CERT to put on a combo Disaster Preparedness Presentation and practical exercise (ICS, communications, cribbing & lifting, and search & rescue). Location will be the New Wine Harvest Festival Fellowshop at Church/Cuyama Street. Public is invited.

Second topic outlined the recent success of the Ojai OK Drill.

Mayor Sue Horgan was appreciative of the report and attendance at the Council meeting.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Subscribing to this Blog using an RSS Reader

I created this blog because I wanted to:

-Avoid having to send an email out for each update
-Skip having to write a monthly newsletter
-Make it easier to point toward another's efforts on the web

It can be a challenge visiting each of your favorite web-sites to see if any new or newsworthy information has been posted.

I have the answer -- RSS (Really Simple Syndication) Readers. If all your favorite web-sites have RSS Feeders, which they typically do, then you just have one place to go to review all new postings.

An easy way to get started is to use Google Reader -- (www.google.com/reader)

To subscribe to this Blog you need to enter this:


6 month Family Disaster & Preparedness Calendar

I can think of two major reasons why there could be resistance in preparing a disaster plan and
coming up with all the items (food, supplies, etc) on the list. Not enough:

1. Time &
2. Money

Depending on the size of your family, the list of supplies could grow relatively large and the items are not exactly free.

A possible solution is the following web-site. The idea is, over a 6 month period, to gradually create your disaster plan and steadily acquire items on the list. By chunking the whole process done, it appears overall doable. It also makes it easier to keep track of items that are nearing the end of their shelf life and need to be consumed and then replenished.

Make sure you purchase items that you will actually want to eat.

Guess what you do at the end of the sixth month? Flip back to page one and start over again.

I hope you find this link useful.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Santa Paula Emergency Preparedness Summit, Oct 4th

Santa Paula will be hosting an Emergency Preparedness Summit on Saturday, October 4th between 9AM and noon.

Location is Limoneira Pavilion -- 55 Hallock Drive, Santa Paula.

All are welcome to come learn from the Professional First Responders and a host of Community Groups who team together during times of need.

For more information please go to: