Block Action Team Leader Class in April

The next installment of the Block Action Team Leader (BAT Leader) training session is scheduled for April 29.  To sign up, click on the “Sign Up To Be A BAT Leader” link that’s to the right.  Don’t worry – you don’t have to commit to being a leader until you attend the class, and even then you can still say no.  But after seeing the presentation and meeting your neighbors, we think you’ll agree that being a BAT Leader is cool thing to do.

BAT Leaders build a sense of community in their neighborhood.  If you already know your neighbors, then you are most of the way there.  If you don’t know your neighbors, then this is the perfect excuse to meet them.  Once your neighborhood BAT gets going, you can do things like hold block parties, get prepared for an emergency like an earthquake and more.  But rather than explain it all here, why not sign up for the class and join us on April 29?

CERT Training Starts in April

The next Los Altos CERT class will be starting on April 16.  This is a series of 3 hour classes and a Saturday “graduation exercise” that covers the finer details of CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams).  Learn how to handle a fire extinguisher, provide minor first and and do light search and rescue.  This class is offered twice a year, so the next installment will be later in the fall.  CERT skills are very useful after a major disaster such as an earthquake that does extensive damage in your neighborhood.  You can sign up by clicking on the “Sign Up for a CERT Class” link that is in the right-hand column on this page.  Price of the class is $95 and provides you with a CERT backpack loaded with personal protection equipment (PPE).  Sign up today and join us at this informative and very useful training class.

Get Your Ham License

Always wanted to be a ham radio operator?  Here’s your chance.  There is a one-day “ham cram” session on April 19.  This is a study session  where you simply study the questions and the correct answers, then take the test.  The success rate usually surpasses 90% and sometimes hits 100%.  While you don’t learn a lot about ham radio, you do get your license quickly.  Not to worry – there are a lot of follow-on classes available that will fill in the blanks.  If you are interested, go to and click on the “sign up” link on the left side.  Price is $30 and seating is limited to the first 100 people.  Once you have your license, you can join the other hams in Los Altos and provide vital communications capabilities when the big one hits.

Sign Up for BAT Leader Training

The next installment of Block Action Team (BAT) Leader training is coming soon (Feb 27).  To sign up, fill in this form or click on the “Block Action Team” button that’s on the menu bar above if you want more information.  There you will find a description of the program and a link to the sign-up form.  Signing up for the presentation doesn’t commit you to being a BAT Leader – you can make that decision at the session itself.  The first two hours of the presentation describes the driving forces behind the program and a high-level view of how BATs will help after an earthquake.  Then its time for you to decide – do you want to be a BAT Leader or not?  Those interested in being a BAT Leader will stay longer and we’ll take your picture for an ID badge, hand out some BAT organizing material and explain how some of the more important forms will be used.  So go ahead – click on the button above and join us on the 27th to learn more about the program.  Or ask yourself, if not you, then who?

Lots of Trucks

I attended an earthquake preparedness workshop presented by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) the other day where several large agencies and companies presented what they have to done to strengthen their part of the public infrastructure since Loma Prieta hit 25 years ago.  Everyone agrees that Loma Prieta was just a wake-up call and this session was asking the question “did we wake up or what?”  It was interesting to hear presentations from PG&E, San Francisco Water and Sewer (which runs Hetch Hetchy and supplies drinking water to Los Altos and the surrounding communities), CalTrans and more.  After the presentations the speakers participated in a panel discussion to answer questions.

One common theme through all presentations was that in their efforts to strengthen their part of the infrastructure, the focus was on resiliency and not necessarily trying to “earthquake-proof” everything.  The consensus was that it was next to impossible to earthquake-proof everything, if not technically, at least financially.  Things will break.  There will be disruptions” was heard over and over again.  So the goal is to build so that it is easy to bring things back into service quickly.

The presentation by CalTrans was particularly interesting.  They explained how over the years they learned that simply building bigger and stronger wasn’t the answer.  They used the eastern span of the Bay Bridge as an example.  Parts of the bridge are designed to fail during an earthquake.  But the design is such that these components can be easily and quickly replaced without shutting the bridge down for weeks or even months.  Another concern was all the overpasses.  They have spent billions strengthening the support columns but CalTrans admits that some roads may be impassible for days after a major eqrthquake.  Which brings me to the title of this article.

During the panel discussion the USGS moderator noted that all the major food stores bring in their supplies from the central valley over Interstate 580.  If a bridge fails on that route, the food supply into the entire bay area will be severely impacted.  How much?  The moderator said there was over 300 trucks a day that use the 580 corridor.  Think about it – 300 every day seven days a week, and each of those is probably two trailers full of food.  That’s a lot of food.  And another reason why we need to be prepared to be on our own for at least 72 hours without outside help.  And some argue that 72 hours isn’t enough, but that’s for another article.

BAT Leader Training a Huge Success

BAT Leaders learn skills to better assist their neighbors

The first Block Action Team (BAT) Leader training session was a huge success.  Forty two Los Altos residents met on January 29th for three hours to learn the steps necessary to be a successful BAT Leader.  Topics such as working with your neighbors and preparing family emergency plans were discussed.  BAT Leaders also heard how the BAT program will, after a major emergency such as an earthquake, provide the City leaders with crucial information which will allow First Responders to better react to the emergency.  At the end of the training, the newly trained BAT Leaders were provided with a BAT Information kit that will help them gather and organize the information necessary to make their BAT better prepared.

“This program is really needed” was one of the many positive comments made by the attendees after the presentation.  A common theme heard during conversations was “we really need to get organized.”  One BAT Leader summarized it by saying “I am very happy to see our city get active – or at least our citizens.”

New BAT Leader Training is held just about every month.  Visit the BAT Leader Training Signup page and join us at one of our future sessions.  Don’t worry – this doesn’t commit you do being a leader, it just gets you in the training session.  But we are confident that once you go through the training, you will want to be a BAT Leader.

Sign Up To Be A BAT Leader

Being a BAT Leader is easy to do and doesn’t take a lot of time out of your schedule.  There’s a 3-hour class that will tell you everything you need to know, along with providing you the support to get your BAT started.  To sign up, fill out the BAT Leader Application form.