Town Square

Post a New Topic

During pandemic, new group takes lead in organizing Menlo Park's volunteer emergency response

Original post made on Jun 4, 2020

Unlike the emergencies that communities are used to preparing for, the recent pandemic has undermined social structures, not physical ones. Here's how one local emergency readiness group is adapting to the challenge.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 4, 2020, 11:25 AM

Comments (11)

17 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 4, 2020 at 12:51 pm

It is great that MPC Ready is, neighborhood by neighborhood, developing a citizen-based emergency preparedness capability for the citizens of Menlo Park.

It is a disappointment that the City of Menlo Park has absolutely no idea how to use this important citizen preparedness capability while the City of Palo Alto and the Town of Atherton have activated their volunteers for the current Covid-19 Pandemic without in any way placing those volunteers at risk. I am a Federally qualified CERT, I was an ADAPT member when I lived in Atherton and I am a currently an activated Palo Alto CERT (because I have a professional place of business in Palo Alto.)

In my Park Forest neighborhood we have an Area Preparedness Coordinator, three Neighborhood Preparedness Coordinators and eight Block Preparedness Coordinators covering over 100 homes. We know exactly what is happening in our neighborhood. We check on each other on a regular basis. We are sharing supplies and services with those who need them.

I have not seen a MP police car in our neighborhood since the Shelter in Place began. The city has NO idea what is going on in our neighborhood because they refuse to establish a chain of command that connects self-activated neighborhoods such as ours to the City's Emergency Operation Center - as have Palo Alto and Atherton. The Police Chief believes that emergency response requires a badge and a gun and had told us that he will NOT active well-organized neighborhoods, so we are YOYO's - You are On Your Own.

As a well-organized self-activated neighborhood Park Forest is proud to be On Our Own because we know that citizens can take care of each other and that we don't need a badge and a gun to do that.

The City of Menlo Park will be deeply handicapped in the event of a large-scale disaster such as an earthquake because it has not accepted citizen volunteers as an essential part of our community's emergency preparedness. The city's very limited emergency staff will be totally incapable of responding to widespread power outages, fires, structural collapses and blocked roads. Well organized neighborhoods that are connected to the city's EOC would provide both eyes in the neighborhoods and vital local response capability.

4 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 4, 2020 at 3:20 pm

The foundation of the MPC Ready effort is the wonderful network of about 350 volunteers (and rising) that start with the Area Coordinators. They have worked tirelessly to map their overall Area and to recruit Block Coordinators for every street in the Area. The effort continues and it's being supported by other volunteers in the network! Neighborhood Coordinators are also actively helping to recruit and to support Block Coordinators. The Block Coordinators are going forth to meet neighbors, establish ties, provide support and to recruit more Block Coordinators! This grass-roots effort is growing thanks to the many volunteers who, unfortunately, were not named in the article. I'm just a small part of this overall effort.

The MPC Ready Board provides additional support as does the CCM/CERT Advisory Board. This is a team effort, working together, towards the goal of having every street across Menlo Park, and the adjacent unincorporated County, being supported by a Block Coordinator.

Following a disaster, the neighbors will be the first people that we see. The MPC Ready program is focused on helping neighbors to build social ties ahead of a major disaster, and to have the tools and resources needed to work together as a team following a major emergency or disaster. The time commitment can be as little as 3 hours per month, on average. We can also help you to organize your neighborhood!

We still need more Block Coordinators! Please consider becoming one. us.Web Link

The public is also cordially invited to our June 27 Community Meeting (9-10:15 a.m.) where Scott James, author of Prepared Neighborhoods: Creating Resilience One Street at a Time, will speak about how Menlo Park and the adjacent County can create more disaster ready and enjoyable neighborhoods. Web Link

The effort continues and it is very much a "we" effort.

3 people like this
Posted by Scott Barnum
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 4, 2020 at 11:13 pm

It is indeed disappointing that the hard work of the MPC Ready Board resulting in a 300+ person organization it has assembled in less than 3 months is not being properly recognized, supported or integrated into the emergency operations of Menlo Park, especially when there are good examples of similar effective emergency volunteer organizations in place on Menlo Park's boarders (i.e., in Atherton and Palo Alto). These citizen volunteer groups have been embraced and are being utilized by their city governments and for some time. Why not Menlo Park?

This lack of interest in supporting a viable citizens' emergency response organization in Menlo Park by city officials is not new. Several attempts at organizing in the past have also gone unrecognized and have not been embraced and thus, have failed. The citizens' neighborhood emergency response organizing effort going on now is by far the most advanced and extensive ever. Yet, in the middle of an emergency pandemic and despite the aggressive volunteer efforts to build such an organization, essentially from the ground up, across all of Menlo Park's neighborhoods and San Mateo County unincorporated areas, the City barely recognizes the MPC Ready as an integral volunteer group, let alone even attempts to integrate the group into its emergency support operations and communication infrastructure. Why, especially when neighboring Palo and Atherton have good role models to learn from AND when there is now a sizable core of volunteers that has been created to build on and there is a clear need shown for such an organization as highlighted during the current real and on-going emergency (COVID-19)?

Having helped organized my neighborhood in Menlo Park and having been involved with the development of Atherton's citizens emergency response group ADAPT (Atherton Disaster And Preparedness Team), I have seen the benefits first hand of such organization. I would strongly encourage the City Council to embrace the MPC Ready organization - it developed and it is growing. It is free and it is ready to "be leveraged" for the benefit of all the residents and neighborhoods of Menlo Park. It is an asset that quite literally has "dropped into our collective laps!" MPC Ready can benefit Menlo Park in many ways and during many kinds of emergencies, not just pandemics. And the costs for integrating such an organization into the City's emergency preparedness efforts are minor in comparison to the upsides.

4 people like this
Posted by Rob Silano: Director
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 5, 2020 at 6:39 am

Nice article:
As Chair and Fire Director of the Emergency Preparation Committee join myself and Director Chuck Bernstein on our Zoom Call. We would like to hear from all volunteer groups within our district. Presently, the CCM Organization has not been used by any of the communities we serve:
Menlo Park
East Palo Alto
Unincorporated SMC

We on our Emergency Preparation Committee want to hear from all of you. The fire district has set aside money for your organizations. CCM is only one part of the good people of our community wanting to help.

Director Bernstein and myself want to use this great resource of Volunteers and put them to work to benefit all communities.

Our Meeting Information:
Thank you

The following Committee meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, June 9, 2020, and will be held via teleconference. Please click on the below Agenda and Agenda Packet link to access the agenda for instructions on how to view the meeting.

Emergency Preparedness Committee at 3:00 p.m.
Click on the following link to access the agenda and agenda packet: Agenda and Agenda Packet then choose the Current Agenda folder to view the agenda only. To view the Board Meeting Packet, which includes attachments, if any, choose the Current Meetings folder and click on the link for the meeting.

If you need any assistance accessing the agenda packet please contact Michelle Kneier, Clerk of the Board at 650-688-8400 or at [email protected] 

1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 5, 2020 at 7:00 am

The Fire District's Emergency Preparedness Committee meeting can be viewed in real time at:
Web Link Password: 060920.
Listen to the meeting by dialing one of the following telephone numbers: 1-669-900-6833, 1-253-215-8782,
1-346-248-7799, 1-929-205-6099, 1-301-715-8592, 1-312-626-6799. Webinar ID: 972 3684 0808, Password: 060920
Note: If you access the meeting by telephone and would like to submit public comment your phone number will appear
on the screen unless you first dial *67 before dialing the telephone access numbers shown above.
Public Comment:
- If you would like to submit public comment during the public comment portion of the agenda and you accessed the
meeting using the URL you can use the “Raise Hand” feature.
- If you accessed the meeting by telephone you can press *9.
- You may also submit any public comments by email to [email protected] or call 650-688-1441 no later than
1:00 p.m. on June 9, 2020.

1 person likes this
Posted by Jim Lewis
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 5, 2020 at 8:07 am

Thanks Peter. I plan to attend the Emergency Preparation Meeting scheduled for next Tuesday.

Like this comment
Posted by Rob Silano Director
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 5, 2020 at 8:15 am

Thank you Peter, Scott, and Jim. You both know how supportive I am in volunteer programs within our communities. Please Zoom in on our meeting all interested!

2 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 5, 2020 at 9:35 am

Rob. I and the other leaders on the MPC Ready Board have routinely attended the CCM/CERT Advisory Board meetings, as also has Mike Noce from the City of Menlo Park. Noce was assigned by the City to be the liaison to the MPC Ready organization and the CCM/CERT Advisory Board. The CCM/CERT Advisory Board, to its credit, worked very hard to help pull the Atherton, EPA and Menlo Park/County Boards together during the COVID-19 pandemi -- to leverage ideas and resources. I hope this good work will continue.

Like this comment
Posted by Rob Silano Director
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 5, 2020 at 9:54 am

Thank you Lynn for your comments:

The only volunteer group that has been solicited for help is ADAPT.

What do all these other Volunteer Groups, including yours and the CCM, need to do to get the other cities: EPA- Menlo Park to recognize them and ask for your assistance?

Please attend our Zoom Meeting next week.

Thank you and other volunteers for their commitment to our community.

5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 5, 2020 at 10:05 am

What well organized neighborhoods need is an institutional sponsor to whom they can provide data re their neighborhood's status and from which they can be provided information for local dissemination.

Neither Menlo Park or East Palo Alto have the interest, skills , culture or resources to mobilize community volunteers BUT the Fire District has the interest, skills, culture and resources to do a great job with community volunteeers.

The FIre District could aggregate information provided by well organized neighborhoods and pass it on to the County EOC.

The Fire District could also perform a critical function in facilitating the training of well organized neighborhoods and helping individuals from other neighborhoods get the training they need to then organize additional neighborhoods.

Community volunteers can be a powerful force but without Fire District sponsorship much of their value will be wasted.

4 people like this
Posted by John Doe
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 5, 2020 at 2:20 pm

Don't expect much cooperation from the Menlo Park Police. Bertini lives in his ivory tower and couldn't care less. He's just shining his buckle for his next 'promotion' like the last guy Jonsen .. another overpaid cop, now raking it in over in Palo Alto. How many of these cops are drawing multiple pensions and salaries for their efforts to 'serve and protect'. The reaction to the fake social media alert re looting was astonishing, can they not verify their sources. (Watch for few police service cuts in this city as they are so powerful its obscene. Look how they protected one of their own. Is this guy still on the job? -- Read this article).

Web Link

Time for reform in Menlo Park .. Sadly the gutless City Council have no will, ability, desire or interest in change.

PS. Lived here my whole life, zero tickets in 46 years .. so no axe to grind. Occasional request for 'service', never a proper follow up. Detective Unit is a joke, they couldn't detect an elephant in snow !

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Get the most important local news stories sent straight to your inbox daily.

Is there a polite way to say "Too much plastic"?
By Sherry Listgarten | 11 comments | 1,934 views

Premarital and Couples: What Does Sex Mean to You?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,795 views

'Ignoring what's wrong has never made anything right'
By Diana Diamond | 4 comments | 1,703 views

The MP City Council Changes Downtown Street Closures Again and Extends the Trial Into 2021. Is this Enough?
By Dana Hendrickson | 10 comments | 1,459 views

Community catering: How one SF Malaysian restaurant is delivering food to Peninsula neighborhoods
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 618 views


Benefiting local non-profits

The 36th annual Moonlight Run and Walk is Friday evening, October 2, wherever you are! Proceeds go to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, benefiting local non-profits that serve families and children in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Join us under the light of the full Harvest Moon on a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon.

Register Today!