Block Action Team Training is kicking off 2015 with some great changes to our program. This includes a later start time, a shorter session and a new location. Our first training for 2015 will be held on January 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Neutra House, 181 Hillview Ave, Los Altos.

During the training BAT leaders learn what they can do to improve neighborhood emergency preparedness and the ability to respond and recover from a major disaster such as an earthquake. In addition, tips about implementing crime prevention, safety techniques and how to promote social interaction are included.   Attending the training session does not commit you to the role of BAT leader, but hopefully motivates you to make the commitment to help your neighbors.

A BAT leader defines his/her neighborhood (typically 15-50 households), communicates with the residents within it and organize helpers and events. General responsibilities include encouraging neighborhood social events, developing a neighborhood roster, communicating emergency response information and organizing a neighborhood watch.

Additional training sessions have been scheduled for:

  • Thursday – February 26
  • Monday – April 27
  • Wednesday – May 27

2014 Accomplishments

It was a great year for Los Altos PREPARE and Block Action Team! Our accomplishments include:

  • 87 residents committed to be a BAT Leader.
  • 40 Block Action Teams (BATs) have been mapped, these can be viewed on our website
  • 1,094 households are covered by a BAT which is approximately 10% of the Los Altos Households
  • 65 CERT members have been trained, and they participated in 3 exercises in preparedness which also involved HAMS and BATs.
  • The 11 Emergency Information Reporting Sites were established and HAM volunteers have agreed to staff 6 of them, using their own packet systems.
  • We received a $500 grant from Los Altos Rotary Foundation, towards the purchase of a packet system.
  • $1,137 in contributions were received for support of our programs.

The success of the BAT/CERT/HAM programs and activities is due to volunteers who are very generous with their time and talents. Thank you for getting involved and making a difference in our community.

Spring 2015 CERT Class Announced

The next Los Altos CERT training has been scheduled in the springtime, starting on April 21 2015 and running for 5 weeks.  To sign up for this class, click on the “Sign Up for CERT” box that is to the right.  CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) training provides you with the skills that can be very helpful during an emergency.  Topics such as damage assessment, search and rescue, basic first, fire suppression and cribbing are covered in this 5 week class.  All 5 classes are scheduled to be held on a Tuesday starting at 6:30 P.M. and running for 3 hours each night.  A field exercise/graduation class is planned for May 30.  This is when you get to put your newly acquired skills to the test.

Another CERT Class Completed

Graduates from the October 2014 class pose in front of Engine 74.

Graduates from the October 2014 class pose in front of Rescue 74.

October 25 marked the graduation of our newest Los Altos CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) members.  Five weeks of classroom training mixed with hands-on exercises came to an end when the newest 13 members participated in a 4 hour drill held at the Los Altos Town Hall.  The drill had the CERT members performing basic first aid, light search and rescue techniques, damage/safety assessment and fire suppression.  “The classes were engaging and really informative.  At the very least, it started me on a path of improving my own personal preparedness and working with my neighbors” said one CERT participant.

Los Altos CERT offers CERT training classes twice a year.  CERT skills are very useful after a major disaster such as an earthquake that does extensive damage in your neighborhood.  The next CERT class will be offered in the spring of 2015, but you don’t have to wait to sign up.  Just click on the “Sign up for a CERT class” link that’s over to the right.

Los Altos PREPARE Demonstrates Communications Capability

October 7 was “drill day” in Los Altos.  The school districts (high school and grade school) did earthquake drills – evacuating students and checking to make sure everyone was OK.  The City staff members went through four hours of formalized Emergency Operations Center (EOC) training and reviewing emergency procedures.  Not to be left out, the Los Altos PREPARE/BAT programs demonstrated how they can effectively communicate neighborhood status to the city without using phone lines, texts, internet or any other public utility, including power from PG&E.

EIRSdemo5In the event of a widespread emergency, each Block Action Team (BAT) will do a survey of their neighborhood and fill out a Preliminary Safety Assessment (PSA) form that categorizes problems into the categories of people, structures and hazards.  This information is then moved to a local Emergency Information Reporting Site (EIRS) where the information is entered into a computer and sent to the City via amateur radio.  The picture here shows what a typical EIRS site might look like – an amateur radio operator (a “ham”) with a laptop connected to a radio and assisted by local CERT and BAT members.  The drill site chosen was the Los Altos Community Foundation center at 183 Hillview Ave, next to the Hillview Community Center and the Neutra House.

For the drill, Sherie Dodsworth filled in as a local BAT leader (pictured in the red vest) and Cookie Murata was our CERT member (green vest and hat).  Tom Armer (amateur call sign K6TAA) operated the packet station, entering information from the BAT person and transmitting the information to the City’s EOC.  While the total distance between the “EIRS” station and the City EOC was about 2 miles, those two miles may be impassible during a real emergency.  The total time it took to transmit the data to the city’s EOC was less than two minutes – a lot shorter than driving there on a good day.  For this test, information from three BATs was sent to the City’s EOC where the information was printed out and delivered to city officials.

The goal is to replicate this capability in each of the eleven zones that cover the city.  You can be part of this exciting plan to establish BATs and EIRS throughout the city.  For further information, send an email to, or consider signing up for a BAT Leader training class by following the link to the right of this page.


BAT Leaders Share Inspiration

Current BAT Leaders throughout Los Altos met at El Camino Hospital for their quarterly Inspiration Meeting.  With the idea of supporting each other and continuing the idea of building stronger neighborhoods, the Inspiration sessions allow BAT Leaders to exchange ideas on how to organize and inspire their Block Action Teams (BATs).  The latest Inspiration session was no exception.  BAT Leader Nancy Bartlett provided a review of the disaster drill that BAT 111 held on August 24.  Ironically, this is the same day that Napa was hit with a 6.0 earthquake.  During their drill, BAT 111 practiced how to shut of utilities such as natural gas and how to perform search and rescue.  After the drill, the entire neighborhood held a big block party to celebrate their success.

pulsepointLan Nguyen, another BAT Leader, provided a review of the County’s CERT training exercise that was held on August 23.  During this annual training exercise, CERT participants learned how to set up and operate a command post and do search and rescue techniques.  Their “victim” was a lost child and while searching for the “victim”, they learned how to ask questions of people on the street to better refine their search area.  CERT members from across the County participated in this event.

The highlight of the Inspiration Session was a presentation by Brenda Taussig, Community Relations Manager of El Camino Hospital.  Brenda presented a smartphone application named PulsePoint.  This smartphone app is designed to let CPR-trained people know when there is a need for CPR skills nearby.  A possible example is you are shopping downtown and a diner at a nearby restaurant stop breathing.  The shop owner dials 911 and waits for the paramedics to arrive.  In the meantime, the PulsePoint app on your phone alerts you to the situation and since you are a few doors away, you can quickly move to the person and assist by providing CPR until the paramedics arrive.  El Camino Hospital is sponsoring this app and its popularity is growing like wildfire with downloads from around the world.  This is a great app to download on your phone along with getting CPR trained.

The Inspiration session wound up by BAT Leaders developing a list of request for tools and assistance to better manage their BATs.  Held quarterly, look for the next BAT inspiration session to be held on December 10.

CERT Storage Shed Takes Shape

shedWith the success of the CERT program in Los Altos, it was quickly apparent that a storage area was needed for general CERT supplies. Through a generous donation by Orchard Supply Hardware in Mountain View the shed became a reality. The only problem was that it was in pieces – lots of little pieces. Led by Harry Guy, an able team of volunteers met on Friday September 26th to put the pieces together. The first order of business was to level and compact the ground that the shed would rest on. A frame of 4×4 timbers was laid down and filled with just under two yards of base rock. The city loaned a compactor and the base rock was compacted and smoothed in place. From there the shed floor was put into place and the walls went up, followed by the roof. The timing was excellent because just as the last panel of the roof was being installed, the clouds opened up with a little bit of rain, probably as a last-minute check to see if the shed was water tight. And it was – everyone who was huddling in the shed to keep out of the rain stayed dry as a few team members frantically ran around outside trying to move their various tools out of the rain. Just as the last tool was stowed back into the trucks the rain stopped and the build crew celebrated a job well done. A big thank you to the build crew: Harry Guy, Jim Clark, Tom Freed, Lan Nguyen, Nick Tanner, Cookie Murata and Mike De Wein.

BAT Leader Training October 7

Napa got hit by a 6.0 earthquake recently and damage was in the hundreds of millions of dollars. What if it hit here – would you and your neighborhood be ready? Now is the time to start getting your neighborhood organized and set up to handle situations such as what happened in Napa.

The next BAT (Block Action Team) Leader training session is scheduled for October 7. It will be held in the meeting rooms at El Camino hospital starting at 6:30 PM. To sign up, click on the “Sign Up to Become a BAT Leader” box that is to the right. Yep, right there on the top right. Go ahead, click it and do it before the next one hits.

BAT #111 Is Ready – How About You?

comboCongratulations to Nancy, Carol and Robin for organizing their first BAT drill.  This BAT is the largest BAT in Los Altos (~80 homes), and they have developed mini-blocks with individual captains to keep it organized.  They activated and exercised their BAT neighborhood with a number of simulated conditions that included:

  • child trapped in playhouse by a fallen tree limb;
  • gas leak that needed to be turned off;
  • water leak on a front porch;
  • and a missing dog.

Click on the picture to see a close-up of some of these activities.  Each household was asked to display their HELP/OK sign and some of the mini-blocks held specific training sessions on topics such as search techniques.  The exercise was followed by a neighborhood pot luck and a children’s bicycle parade.  Well done BAT #111!

Los Altos CERT Participates in County Drill

Picture 004aOn August 23, 2014, Los Altos Prepare – CERT participated in the Santa Clara County Wide Emergency Drill. The participants were: Christine Brown, John Brown, Lauren Doud, Don Gladstone, William Huang, Cookie Murata, Chris Nagao, Lan Nguyen and Nick Tanner.

There were morning and afternoon sessions, [Read more…]