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relay that information to the OES emergency operations center. There, resources are coordinated at the local and regional level in order to dispense emergency services resources.” “With MYN, it’s a lot easier to ask for help and to help others because neighbors already know each other,” Purser said. “One might be confined to a wheel chair, another might be a retired fire fighter, someone else might have a ham radio or a generator, and so on. Residents meet at their pre- designated gathering spot, split up into teams, and systematically check on every home in their block to see who needs help.” “The beauty of the program is that it can apply to any type of disaster,” Purser added. “Some neighborhoods have even staged mock disasters and practiced the step-by-step response together.” Residents learn the value of keeping a hard hat, sturdy shoes, gloves and a flashlight under the bed. They learn how to check for gas leaks and turn off their gas. By mapping which homes have swimming pools they can help fire fighters pinpoint extra water resources. Knowing the appropriate flood evacuation routes, they can head for safety without hindering first responders. Having supplies and copies of important documents pre-packed, they can evacuate quickly when there’s no time to waste. “The program is growing, especially as people realize they don’t need special expertise to serve as organizers,” Purser said. “When an Eagle Scout decided to organize a MYN effort in his neighborhood, I went with him door to door as he explained the program. He led a neighborhood meeting, gathered their information, provided them all with copies of their completed plan, and then organized a block party to celebrate.” Along with volunteering for MYN, Purser is also a CERT graduate who went on to serve as a CERT trainer, and now trains other trainers. She has also taken training at FEMA’s National Emergency Management Institute. “Right now we’re looking to train someone from Gilroy who is interested in getting a MYN effort started in their neighbor- hood,” Purser added. “It would be great to have regional awareness and participation so more people can benefit.” For information on how you and your neighborhood can participate, contact Jennifer Ponce at Morgan Hill OES, Jennifer.ponce@morganhill.ca.gov. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS RESOURCES Gilroy CERT — ­ gilroycert.com Morgan Hill CERT —mhcert.com FEMA — ready.gov or community.fema.gov/ RED CROSS— redcross.org/prepare Alert SCC— sccgov.org Santa Clara County residents can get alert notifications sent directly to their email, smartphones and landlines. Alerts may nclude warnings, up-to-the-minute information as an event unfolds, and post-disasters information about shelters, transportation, or supplies. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN Be a Ham Radio Operator Amateur radio (also known as ham radio) has its roots in the late 1800s. Early proponents knew the importance of having a network of amateur radio operators to serve the public long before the battle for bandwidth erupted and the Fed- eral Communications Commission (FCC) was formed. Today they provide communications support for everything from community festivals to disaster response scenarios. The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) boasts more than 700,000 licensed amateur radio operator members in the U.S. South County is blessed with two local clubs: the Garlic Valley Amateur Radio Club and the Morgan Hill Amateur Radio Society. (Woody Salyer runs Emergency Communications.) According to Heatherly Takeuchi, an amateur radio volunteer and leader in South Valley, “As ham radio operators we are granted this very valuable real estate—the right to use certain bandwidth in the electromagnetic spectrum—free of charge. We collaborate with groups like CERT and serve the public, in the event of an emergency, with radios hooked up to our own wind, solar, or electric power sources.” Takeuchi heads up license examination services. The HAM CRAM, an amateur radio operator test prep, exam, and licensing session, is only $25. It’s offered at different times in Morgan Hill, Gilroy, and Hollister. The next HAM CRAM will be held September 23rd in Hollister at the Sheriff’s Department. As with CERT, ham radio offers advanced training and service opportunities. Experienced hams are often called in by first responders to help during emergencies, such as in 2009, when vandals cut fiber optic cables in San Jose, temporarily cutting off landline, cell phone, and internet communications in South County. Ham radio operators can participate in Incident Control System (ICS) training. ICS originated from Southern California’s wildfire response learning and evolved into a statewide and a federal system that involves different agencies using different radio frequencies and equipment to coordinate resources rap- idly in emergencies. “Listening to post-mortems after a disaster, invariably it’s communications that presents the challenge,” Takeuchi said. Operators participating in Radio Auxiliary Communicator for Emergency Services (RACES) are trained, tested and certified to help sheriff, police and fire departments in emergencies. Sometimes they’re called to assist at an incident command post, talking with field responders to gather information on a disaster area including head counts and needs of people being impacted. Starter radio equipment can be had for less than $100 with handy talkies and similar gear that lets you talk locally, and maybe hit a repeater or two. Or, you can invest in a home- based system with high frequency capabilities to bounce sound waves off the stratosphere and talk to ham radio operators around the globe. Local ham radio operators often tea