Three San Mateo organizations are pairing for a public awareness campaign to engage the public in disaster preparedness and deterring crime in the city.
The police and fire departments, the San Mateo United Homeowners Association and, for the first time, the San Mateo Chamber of Commerce kicked off the fourth “Be Ready, Be Safe, Be Involved” campaign at Monday’s City Council meeting.
“We just feel it’s important for all community members whether it’s residential community leaders or businesses to be prepared in case of a major disaster,” said Cheryl Angeles, president of the chamber. “It’s not if, it’s when something will happen and I think if we can bring to the forefront of [a] person’s mind that it’s something to think about.”
The police handle the city’s neighborhood watch and teach people how to be aware in the present, the Fire Department hosts disaster preparedness training, the homeowners association helps residents connect and join watch groups and the chamber will be engaging local businesses and host training courses.
Each organization supports one another and provides a valuable role in the campaign, said police Sgt. Dave Norris.
For several years, the Fire Department has offered the multi-course Community Emergency Response Team certification program and Be Ready courses by request for groups of individuals who want to learn what they can do at home to be prepared for disasters. When the campaign got going, the Fire Department invited police to help with the courses by educating citizens on how to spot crime and form neighborhood watch groups, Norris said.
“This is a very natural marriage between fire and police in that way. When the big one’s not hitting, be able to keep your eyes and ears open and notify the police if you see anything criminal or suspicious. And use the information that’s available from the Fire Department to be prepared in the event that a major disaster hits,” Norris said.
Getting to know one’s neighbors and working together is key to being prepared for a disaster and protecting against crime, said Anna Kuhre, Public Works commissioner and former president of the San Mateo United Homeowners Association.
“If you’re involved, you will be ready and safe when the big one hits because you can count on others. That’s your first line of defense in a cataclysmic event. You need to be able to help each other out,” Kuhre said.
Having neighbors share resources, learn how to triage situations and leverage help within one’s own community during a disaster allows police and fire to prioritize more critical responses during a disaster, Norris said.
Citizens will also learn how to help protect themselves and their communities from crimes, Norris said.
“Yes [disasters] can happen and we want to be prepared if something happens. In the meantime, all communities need to help the Police Department and be our eyes and ears on the street,” Norris said.
San Mateo citizens are encouraged to attend classes and sign up for or create new neighborhood associations and watch groups.
“Every year during the campaign we like to add more neighborhood watch blocks. This is an opportunity to raise neighborhood awareness,” Kuhre said. “We know the big thing is coming, we just don’t know when. So be ready, be safe, be involved.”
For more information about the “Be Ready, Be Safe, Be Involved” campaign visit www.cityofsanmateo.org.
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