Now that the Ojai OK! Drill (held October 14th, 2009) is concluded, I've had some time to reflect on what was accomplished and achieved. The following are behind-the-scenes detail which recognizes (both volunteer and government) those involved in creating a dynamic Disaster Preparedness & Communications exercise for The Ojai Valley.
Within one hour, search teams had: met at assigned rendezvous points; counted pre-assigned search areas looking for OK Signs; and communicated, via Ham Radio, the results to the Ojai Police Department (Emergency Operations Center for Ojai). The total count was 944, up from 700 in 2008.
Residents of The Ojai Valley
It cannot be said loudly enough that the Ojai OK! Drill is not possible without the support and participation of Ojai Valley Residents. The signs provide Emergency Preparedness Information which is useful for ongoing discussions. The action of displaying the OK! Sign is paramount for a successful communications exercise.
Ojai Valley CERT Neighborhood Area Coordinators, NERT Coordinators, and CERT Teams
Each of the CERT Neighborhood Area Coordinators (Kathy Miller, Ken Williams, Beth von Gunten, Paul McConnaughey, Paul Garth, Diane Bailey, Mike Weaver and Christel Stratton) managed the effort within their neighborhoods - creating Rendezvous points for NERT Coordinators, managing search areas for CERT Teams and providing communications protocols (FRS & Ham Radio).
Ojai Valley Amateur Radio Club (OVARC)
Ojai Valley Ham Radio Operators, led by Wayne Francis (W6OEU) assisted the various CERT Neighborhoods in communicating to our Emergency Operations Center (Ojai Police Department) the total Neighborhood Counts. Sean Kellythorne (KI6MGI) was inside the EOC representing Ojai Valley CERT.
OVARC (represented by Wayne Francis (W6OEU) and Tom Sullivan (W8MKL)) was responsible for programming the AM 1610 Radio message announcing the drill.
Ham Radio Communication via South Mountain Repeater Association (SMRA) Repeater
Wayne (N6WIX) and Hovan (KI6BQL) provided Ham Radio communications between Ventura and Ojai using our SMRA County Repeater. Ventura Harbor performed a simultaneous OK! Drill using the same format as Ojai.
The Office of Ventura County District 1 Supervisor Steve Bennett
Supervisor Steve Bennett has been a huge supporter of the Ojai OK! Drill from its inception in 2008. His office has provided: OK Signs (in both English & Spanish), instruction sheets, inter-agency support from Cindy Cantle & Brian Brennan, and web-space for communications and file downloads.
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ojai Chief of Police Captain Chris Dunn coordinated and requested CalTrans to install two flashing road-signs (Arnaz Grade & Dennison Grade) that advertised the drill's date and time). Capt Dunn was also present in the EOC's Ham Radio Command Post for the duration of the exercise. We appreciate the effort - one of the CalTrans road-signs was requested to be relocated from Los Angeles County.
Ventura County Fire Department
Ventura County Fire Chief Bob Roper was present during the exercise showing his support. Battalion Chief Ranger Dorn observed the communications effort inside the EOC and was impressed with our results and coordination.
City of Ojai
Cindy Cantle (Supervisor Bennett's Office), Paul Garth (West City Ojai CERT) and Diane Bailey (East City Ojai CERT) made a presentation to the Ojai City Council Meeting the night prior to the drill. Laminated Ojai OK! Signs were handed out and Mayor Joe Devito, Council Members and Staff showed enthusiastic support for our drill.
Help of Ojai
Help of Ojai provided the "Little House" space for our post-drill discussion. Brian Brennan (KJ6BXO) relayed status updates between the EOC and the various government officials inside Little House.
Rotary Club Ojai-West
Rotary Club Ojai-West generously donated $500 to Ojai Valley CERT for laminating 2000 OK! Signs.
Ventura Laminating, Ventura
Ventura Laminating generously laminated 2000 OK! Signs for $500 - a huge discount.
Special note to Ken, who has provided much of his own capital in laminating hundreds of Ojai OK! Signs for Mira Monte and has linked several residential parks together using FRS radios.
Cottonwood, Utah - Wasatch District Volunteer Emergency Response Team
At 7PM local time, they performed an emergency drill with 112 homes being informed of the drill; 78 reported that they were "OK". This is a rate of 69.64%. Counts were completed within 30 minutes by radio to their EOC. Communication was relayed via email from Roger Kehr (Emergency Coordinator for CottonWood, Utah) via email to Paul Garth (Ojai Valley CERT).
Public Outreach Efforts
Ojai Valley CERT members made outreach efforts at the Farmer's Market, including Church Groups and Youth Groups.
Ojai Day, while held after the drill, was well supported with 16 members of Ojai Valley CERT providing information (and laminated Ojai OK! sign upgrades) at the CERT booth.
Ojai Valley Emergency Response Team (OVERT)
The OVERT Triad - comprised of Ojai Valley CERT, Ojai Valley Amateur Radio Club and American Red Cross (Ojai) once again came together in mutual support for this exercise. Several members of American Red Cross (headed by Dale Hanson) created search teams within West City Ojai.
Final Comment & notice of Annual Event
Thank you to everybody - it would be infeasible to mention everyone by name - for your support and efforts in the 2009 Ojai OK! Drill.
Ojai Valley CERT are thrilled to announce that the Ojai OK! Drill is now an official annual event - held each third Wednesday of September beginning at 7PM.
Outcomes and Benefits of OK Drill (It's as easy as 1-2-3-4!)
Outcomes of the OK Drill
- Review their Disaster Plan and check their emergency supplies
- Tune into (if available) their local AM Emergency Radio stations for instructions
- Post their OK sign in a window facing a street or mailbox
Benefits of the OK Drill
- People taking personal responsibility for their own welfare through Planning and Preparation
- Creating Community by participating in an area-wide drill
- Leadership Development through establishing CERT Emergency Response Teams
This simple, yet dynamic, drill provides opportunities to create and enhance teamwork, communications and leadership. Ojai Valley CERT contributes the success of our organization's growth and development to the first Ojai OK Drill held on 9/17/08.
This is how we do it!
- Ojai Valley CERT (Ojai , CA) is inviting all CERT (and volunteer response) groups to join us for a coordinated drill on the third Wednesday of September at 7PM (your local time).
- Create OK Signs - Print OK Signs (on Letter Size, Yellow Paper) with applicable information on reverse side
- Distribute OK Signs - CERT members giving out within their neighborhood; Fire Dept visiting classrooms; Faith-based organizations; Libraries; City Hall; Farmers Markets, etc.
- Create Neighborhood Areas - Based on Volunteer Response Team Jurisdiction, divide city/town into areas (maximum of 9)
- Designate Neighborhood Area Command Post - Each Neighborhood Area has a command post with a Neighborhood Area Coordinator
- Further Divide Neighborhood Areas into NERTs - Based on CERT Volunteer residence and geography, subdivide into smaller areas (Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams)
- Designate Rendezvous Points - Each NERT has a specific rendezvous point with a Coordinator
- NERT Assignment - Assign each CERT member to a NERT
- Assign radio operators (ideally Ham Operator) -- Assign to each Neighborhood Area Coordinator and NERT Coordinator
- Search Areas Planned - Plan ahead search areas for each NERT
- Counting Begins - After teams rally at rendezvous point, count designated search area (Note: You have one hour to complete count)
- Communication of counts - NERT Coordinators Communicate to Neighborhood Area Coordinators
- Neighborhood Area Count - Area Coordinators tally NERT counts and communicate (via radio) to Command Center (Note: You should be complete by 8:30PM)
- Command Center tallies Neighborhood Counts - Command Center adds up totals from all Neighborhood Areas
- Command Center communicates to Ojai Valley CERT - Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org with organization, location and total count.
- We look forward to collaborating with you.
- Files & Additional Information - please click on this link