The Palo Alto Neighborhoods (PAN) have partnered with the City of Palo Alto to form the Block Preparedness Coordinator (BPC) Program to ensure that residents, businesses, and other groups can participate with the City in disaster preparation, response, and recovery. The BPC Program trains volunteers to staff BPC positions for each block and Neighborhood Preparedness Coordinators (NPC) for each neighborhood (including businesses/districts or other groups).
When the “Big One” strikes and phones, electricity, and other infrastructure are impaired, the BPC Program enhances community resilience by 1) prior preparation of the community 2) establishing emergency radio communications links, and 3) empowering residents to assist emergency response by serving as “eyes and ears.”
The goal is for each neighborhood to have at least one Neighborhood Preparedness Coordinator and, as much as practical, BPCs for each block, as well as alternates or co-BPCs. A “block” may be 10-50 residences, a building complex, a business or other logical unit.
The role of the BPC includes:
Interacting with your neighbors:
Educate: Go to each residence to introduce yourself and explain purpose and role of Block Preparedness Coordinator. Encourage everyone to prepare (supplies, plans, training). Recommend registration for the Santa Clara County Alert System (AlertSCC) and to listen to KZSU 90.1 FM & KCBS 740 AM / 106.9 FM in an emergency. Remind neighbors they could be on their own for a week (in an earthquake) or even longer (in a pandemic flu or terror attack).
Build Social Bonds: Organize an informal Block Party or similar social events.
Organize: Collect and maintain current information from each residence, including names of residents, age of children, pets, phone numbers, e-mail address, special skills, and nature of any special situations or needs. (Note: Before visiting our neighbors we send a letter telling them that we will request this information but that giving it is voluntary and confidential, used only in case of an emergency).
Serving as a communication node:
Set up a phone tree and an e-mail distribution list so you can quickly disseminate information and alerts from the Neighborhood or City.
When the phones go out, radios and runners will be used to establish communications to link BPCs to NPCs to City government.
Reporting the conditions of your block during an emergency:
Assess the condition of your Block and, using radio or runners, provide reports.
Upon the arrival of first responders, apprise them of the details and critical aspects of the current situation, including residents with special needs.