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Feature of the Month

Neighbors Serve

​Santa Cruz is a beautiful place to live, but it also challenges us with risks for earthquakes, fires, floods, and other disasters, both natural and human. We are fortunate to have skilled firefighters, law enforcement officers, paramedics, and others who train, plan, and stand at the ready to protect and help us during emergencies. But professional responders may not be immediately available, especially in a disaster that impacts large numbers of people and damages buildings, roads, and utilities.

Being prepared to take care of ourselves and our loved ones is important for each of us. There are also people throughout our county, in addition to professional responders, who are trained and prepared to help people should disaster strike.

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

The CERT Program educates people to be prepared for hazards that may impact their area. “CERT is about people helping people, and disaster readiness,” says Mary Edmund, the executive director of the Santa Cruz County CERT Auxiliary.

CERT training, which is provided for free, covers basic emergency response skills, such as fire safety, light building search and rescue, team organization, and disaster emergency medical operations. The training gives people the decision-making, organizational, and practical skills to help family members, neighbors, and associates when professional responders are not immediately available. While people will respond to others in need without the training, the goal of the CERT program is to help people do so effectively and efficiently without placing themselves in unnecessary danger.

CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking an active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.

Click here to learn more and get involved.

Map Your Neighborhood

People do better in an emergency if they know one another!

In a disaster your most immediate sources of help are the neighbors living around you. Map Your Neighborhood (MYN) connects individual preparedness with preparedness in your neighborhood. Participants learn who their neighobrs are, who might need special assistance, and who might have special skills or equipment to help in a disaster.

A Map Your Neighborhood program usually begins with a meeting of 10–20 neighbors who learn and work together. Here is what the meeting covers:

  • Learn the first 9 Steps to Take Immediately Following a Disaster to secure your home and protect your neighborhood. It is hard to think clearly following disaster. These steps will help you to quickly and safely take actions that can minimize damage and protect lives.
  • Identify the Skills and Equipment Inventory each neighbor has that are useful in an effective disaster response. Knowing which neighbors have supplies and skills ensures a timely response to a disaster and allows everyone to contribute to the response in a meaningful way.
  • Create a Neighborhood Map identifying the locations of natural gas and propane tanks for quick response if needed.
  • Create a Neighborhood Contact List that identifies those with specific needs such as the elderly, those with a disability, or homes where children may be alone during certain hours of the day.
  • Learn how to work together as a Team to evaluate your neighborhood after a disaster and take the necessary actions. Your team will cover 15-20 homes or a defined area that you can canvas in one hour.

Click here to watch an introduction ot Map Your Neighborhood.

Click here for more information and resources, including MYN videos, and to connect with Santa Cruz CERT for help to organize a Map Your Own Neighborhood meeting.

Medical Reserve Corps

The National Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a partner program with Citizen Corps, a national network of volunteers dedicated to ensuring hometown security. MRC units are community based and function to locally organize and utilize volunteers who want to donate their time and expertise to prepare for and respond to emergencies and promote healthy living throughout the year. MRC volunteers supplement existing emergency and public health resources.

The Santa Cruz County Medical Reserve Corps was established in 2005 and operates under the auspices of the Public Health Department of the County. The MRC is made up of medical professionals and non-medical personnel. Medical professionals include nurses, EMTs, paramedics, physicians, pharmacists, dentists, mental health workers, and acupuncturists. Non-medical personnel are used according to their specialty or ability such as ham radio operator or security.

Click here to learn more about the MRC and connect with volunteer opportunities.

Important Resources

Code Red

Code Red is a mass notification system that automatically sends important messages to residents and businesses within Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties in the event of emergency situations or critical community alerts. Notifications include evacuations, bio-terrorism alerts, missing person reports, and severe weather alerts.

Note: Code Red automatically notifies land lines. You must register your cellular or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone to receive notifications on these devices.

Click here to add your cell and/or VoIP phone, manage your notifications, and add locations.

American Red Cross Training

The American Red Cross offers a wide variety of classroom and online training and certification, including First Aid, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Automated External Defibrillators (AED), and Babysitting and Child Care.

Click here to find class information.

My Santa Cruz County

The My Santa Cruz County App makes it easy for Santa Cruz County residents to report potholes, trash, dead birds, abandoned vehicles, dead deer, encampments, graffiti, illegal dumping, illegal grows, sewer spills, street signs down, tree trimming, standing water, and environmental health complaints to local officials, and track the progress of requests.

My Santa Cruz County also enables the public to register to vote, view or pay property tax bills, explore the County’s parks system, schedule building inspections, and conduct other County business.

Ready is a national public service campaign designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate emergencies. Visit the site for extensive information and resources on the various types of disasters and hazards you may face, how to make a plan, and ways to get involved, as well as games and activities for kids, families, and the classroom.

Ready and its Spanish language version Listo ask individuals to do four key things:

  • Stay informed about the types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses
  • Make a family emergency plan
  • Build an emergency supply kit
  • Get involved in your community by taking action to prepare for emergencies

Click here for the Ready multilingual webpage, providing materials in 13 languages.

…And Remember, You Are the Help Until Help Arrives!

Designed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), this program provides trainings that can be taken online or in-person, where participants learn to take action, and, through simple steps, potentially save a life before professional help arrives. The program encourages the public to take these five steps when there is an emergency.

  • Call 9-1-1
  • Protect the injured from harm
  • Stop bleeding
  • Position the injured so they can breathe
  • Provide comfort

Click here to learn more and access a video, training program, and an instructor guide and student tools for in-person training.

Santa Cruz Breaks ShakeOut Record!

Thanks to all who participated in the 2018 Great California ShakeOut on October 18! We logged a total of 80,517 participants in Santa Cruz County, beating last year’s record of 67,415 by more than 13,000!  Participants included families and individuals, schools, healthcare facilities, senior communities, government, and non-profit organizations.

The Great ShakeOut earthquake drills are an annual opportunity to learn about and practice what to do during earthquakes and improve preparedness. But remember, there is no earthquake season. A quake can occur at any time. Don’t wait for next October to be sure you and your family are ready. Learn and practice the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety now!


Get the whole family involved! Click the images below for resources and information.

Resources in other languages

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