SP Citizens Corps door hanger given to ‘Hang it Up!’ during emergency

April 30, 2010
Santa Paula News

Volunteers fanned out throughout the city to help Santa Paula residents and businesses “Hang it Up!” - the motto for new, easy to use door hangers meant to alert public safety and neighbors in times of emergencies.

The distribution effort drew volunteers to the Gazebo Saturday, April 17, where they received door hangers, provided by Santa Paula Citizens Corps Council (SPCCC), and instructions before marching out.

“Everybody knows what we’re here for,” Fire Chief Rick Araiza told the crowd that he urged to make sure they left a door hanger and simple instruction sheet at “each house, each apartment... but if you see dogs in the yard, don’t go in!” The city was divided into 15 areas for the distribution effort that drew many students who formed groups and were led by a team leader.

Police Chief Steve MacKinnon told volunteers they would be driven to their assigned area, dropped off and armed with base camp cell phone numbers for pickup or replenishing their door hanger supply. Use of the free door hanger is just one way of taking a proactive approach to emergency preparedness.

When a major emergency such as fire, flood or earthquake occurs, public safety will be swamped and citizens can expect to be on their own for up to 24 hours or even longer. The red side of the door hangers will help emergency responders and neighbors identify households where there is a need for immediate attention such as an injury or a person trapped.

If the green side of the hanger is displayed it means all is well and emergency attention is not required. Households are urged to keep the door hangers in an area of easy access for hanging on the front door knob or in a street-facing window.

Both Carolina Fernandez and Stephanie Romo, 15-year-old Santa Paula High School students, said they were first time volunteers. The door hangers, said Stephanie, are “a really good opportunity for people to be aware” of how to react to emergency.

“It’s definitely a good idea, a great idea,” said CERT volunteer Margaret Olivas.

SPFD Captain Steve Lazenby, the city’s Emergency Preparedness coordinator, gave last minute instructions to teams handling six areas within walking distance of the Gazebo, while Araiza and MacKinnon transported volunteers, including in the oversized Command Post vehicle. “Some want to ride on the fire engine,” said Engineer John Harber, “but they can’t... we’re on call.”

Denise Pulido said her 16-year-old daughter Christine heard about the distribution at SPHS, and her other daughter, Courtney, 12, also wanted to help “to help keep Santa Paula safe.”

The mapping of the distribution areas also included the number of parcels to better gauge the number of residences on each property. “It gives us a sense of size as obviously,” said MacKinnon, larger parcels might have more than one residence on the property.

It took only about 30 minutes to get volunteers on the road to sharing emergency preparedness, and most volunteers returned to the Gazebo by about 11:30 a.m. where pizza and snacks - provided by Domino’s and Vons supermarket - rewarded their efforts. In all, more than 6,000 door hangers were distributed and MacKinnon said SPPD Explorers would tackle any areas missed in coming weeks.

Martha Brown of CERT, Citizens Patrol and SPCCC “had a really good team” that she said distributed flyers in the Oaks area of the city. Residents reacted in different ways: “We had some who wondered why we were walking up to their door,” whom Brown said were informed about the effort and urged to keep the emergency door hanger “in a handy place.... A lot of people thanked us,” while others wanted to chat about world emergencies such as the recent earthquakes in Columbia and Haiti.

Citizens will be asked to “Hang it Up!” and display their door hangers in September during a citywide emergency preparedness drill.

Lazenby said many said they were aware in advance of the distribution and “were happy to get the door hanger.” Araiza and MacKinnon agreed that the operation went smoothly. The volunteers, said MacKinnon “Were enthusiastic and very polite.”

“It was a really good group of kids,” noted Harber.

Door hangers are available at all city buildings including the Santa Paula Police Station, Santa Paula Fire Stations #1 and #2, City Hall and the Community Development Department, as well as Blanchard Community Library.


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