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News

Electrical shutdown scheduled today, tomorrow

PG&E is installing new electrical service to the 400 Main St. development project today, which will require the temporary interruption of electric services to several businesses located on First, Main and State streets in downtown Los Altos. PG&a...

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Schools

Community support pays dividends

Community support pays dividends


As a recent cover story in The New York Times Magazine revealed, getting low-income students into college is not enough to close the achievement/income gap. The percentage of low-income students entering college who actually earn a degree lags far ...

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Community

War veteran to visit D.C. memorial on Honor Flight

War veteran to visit D.C. memorial on Honor Flight


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos resident and World War II vet Earl Pampeyan is preparing for an Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C., next month.

Los Altos resident Earl Pampeyan is scheduled to fly to Washington, D.C., next month to vis...

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Sports

Making a splash

Making a splash


Courtesy of Clarke Weatherspoon
Stanford Water Polo Club’s under-14 boys team earned the bronze medal at the Junior Olympics. Front row, from left: Corey Tanis, Larsen Weigle, Nathan Puentes, Walker Seymour, Alan Viollier and Jayden Kunwar. B...

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Comment

Whom can you trust?: Haugh About That?

Waving my pink poodle skirt with all the fervor of a matador preparing to tease a raging bull, I blinked my 20-year-old eyes and gave a come-hither look to indicate, “I’m ready!” Little did I know that the blind trust I had in this ...

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Special Sections

Getting right by eating right: PAMF doctor's book addresses South Asian health risks

Getting right by eating right: PAMF doctor's book addresses South Asian health risks


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Dr. Ronesh Sinha, a physician at Palo Alto Medical Foundation, promotes healthful living among the South Asian population. His new book, “The South Asian Health Solution,” includes nutritious recipes.

When you think o...

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Business

From Google to First Street: Massage therapist sets up studio in downtown Los Altos

From Google to First Street: Massage therapist sets up studio in downtown Los Altos


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Upuia Ahkiong is slated to open Kua Body Studios next month at 106 First St. Ahkiong is sharing space with Evolve Classical Pilates.

A massage therapist with ties to Google Inc. is slated to open a new – and shared...

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Books

"Jack London" chronicles author's adventurous life


Much has been written about American author Jack London, primarily known for his early-20th-century Western adventure novels, including the classics “White Fang” and “The Call of the Wild.”

In Earle Labor’s biography of the literary icon, “Jac...

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People

TIMOTHY WARREN WATSON (TIM)

TIMOTHY WARREN WATSON (TIM)

Born June 2, 1935, died peacefully on August 11, at home in Mountain View, surrounded by his family. He died of complications of Parkinson’s Disease after a courageous 15-year battle.

Tim was the beloved husband of 55 years to his college sweethea...

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Travel

Bergama bound: A visit to newest World Heritage site

Bergama bound: A visit to newest World Heritage site


Photo Eren GÖknar/ Special to the Town Crier
The amphitheater in Turkey’s ancient city of Pergamon, now known as Bergama, overlooks the Bakirçay River valley, left. The city’s ruins also include the Temple of Trajan.

It was 90 F during t...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks offers 'Spoonful' of drama beginning this week

TheatreWorks offers 'Spoonful' of drama beginning this week


Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
Three strangers – “Chutes & Ladders” (Anthony J. Haney, left), Odessa (Zilah Mendoza, center) and “Orangutan” (Anna Ishida, right) – come together in an online support group in TheatreWorks’ regional premie...

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Spiritual Life

Spiritual Briefs

Meditation group meets at Foothills Congregational

A Weekly Meditation Practice group meets 7-8:15 a.m. Tuesdays at Foothills Congregational Church, 461 Orange Ave., Los Altos.

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Journey through CERT: Week 1


Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/ Town CrierCommunity Emergency Response Team participants in Los Altos Hills train to become disaster-service workers who assist others in their neighborhoods in the aftermath of a catastrophe.

 

Over the next six weeks, Town Crier staff writer and photographer Ellie Van Houtte will chronicle her Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training. Her experience during week one follows.

 

As someone who’s lived in California for just one year, I’ve never experienced the tremors of an earthquake – or the wrath of any major catastrophe.

With three active faults near where I now live and work, I recently wondered whether I’m prepared to handle the minutes, days and weeks following a disaster. I’m afraid I’m not.

When I began reporting last fall on Los Altos Hills’ efforts to prepare residents for disaster response, I watched in awe as a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) executed a complex simulated post-disaster drill at Foothill College like musicians in a symphony. The simulation involved setting up ARK – an incident command center for the Los Altos Hills CERT team – where a few people orchestrated a platoon of trained volunteers via a series of exercises that funneled information from the town’s 56 neighborhood zones.

The exercise was a wake-up call for me. The danger of an earthquake, wildfire or major storm in the area is real, and I needed to be prepared for it.

When Mike Sanders, the Santa Clara County Fire Department’s emergency services coordinator, suggested that I enroll in Los Altos Hills’ sixth annual CERT class, I didn’t hesitate.

The 18-hour training, which began April 9, is scheduled four Tuesday nights and one Saturday.

When my 21 classmates and I arrived at Los Altos Hills Town Hall for the first session, several trained CERT members welcomed us with a receiving line

Minutes later, we had collected town maps and a 300-page field operating guide, posed for headshots and raised our right hands to become volunteer disaster-service workers. According to Sanders, that oath is important and ensures that any CERT member injured while engaging in official disaster service would be eligible for workers’ compensation.

But any misperceptions that CERT designation gives someone a “go anywhere” or “get-out-of-jail-free card” were quickly dispelled.

“Only do what you’re trained to do,” Sanders said. “Just because you’re a CERT member doesn’t mean you can do everything a firefighter can.”

What is CERT?

Those running the session explained what CERT is – and does.

Although emergency responders and other medical personnel are best equipped to handle challenging situations, they might not be able to reach those in need immediately after a catastrophe strikes. That’s where California’s 150,000 CERT members come in.

CERT members are seen as the eyes and ears on the ground. They play a critical role in securing vital resources and services in the wake of a disaster.

“Your job is to collect as much data as possible, as quickly and accurately as possible,” Sanders said.

After collecting neighborhood data, members forward it to the ARK, the CERT command center. The information travels up the chain of communications – from Los Altos Hills’ Emergency Operation Center to County Emergency Services, the Coastal Region Emergency Operations Center and as far as the California Emergency Management Agency, which operates 24/7.

‘We’re all in it together’

People taking this year’s CERT training are doing so for myriad reasons – some want to know their neighbors better, while others remember the aftermath of 9/11. Two teachers from St. Nicholas Catholic School said they enrolled to make their campus safer, and staff from Daughters of Charity want to be prepared if an earthquake strikes.

At the conclusion of the first class, I began to better understand the value of CERT. It’s more than the backpack of supplies and manuals I clasped in my arms as I left – it’s the opportunity to connect with people who live in the community where I work. I might someday be a lifeline for these people or they for me, in unforeseen circumstances.

CERT supervisor Richard Green summarized it best: “A disaster is something beyond normal … beyond your capacity. … We’re all in it together.”

To read Van Houtte’s Week 2 entry on CERT’s simulated triage exercises and disaster medical operations, click here.

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