Wed07302014

News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

CARSTEN HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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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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