Preparedness volunteers from seven Eugene neighborhoods will participate in the second annual citywide field exercise this Saturday, Oct. 29, 10 a.m. to noon.
Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers will participate in the training with local-area radio networks, amateur radio “ham” operators, and City of Eugene Emergency Operations staff to test the emergency communications system.
The first exercise in October 2021 successfully tested the city’s neighborhood emergency communications plan.
The second annual exercise adds neighborhood survey teams, who will search their neighborhoods for yellow envelopes that contain specific emergency messages. Upon locating the envelopes, community members and CERT volunteers will communicate the message to ham radio operators with handheld radios.
Ham radio operators will then prioritize and communicate the messages to the City Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
CERT volunteers embedded in their neighborhoods help transmit messages from nearby neighbor “civilians” to professional emergency management teams using the Incident Command System common to military, police, fire, and other public safety personnel.
The ability for CERT volunteers to perform these activities during an actual emergency frees up professional responders to focus their efforts on more complex, essential, and critical tasks.
The seven neighborhoods participating in the exercise are Southeast Neighbors, Friendly Area Neighbors, Whiteaker Community Council, Santa Clara Community Organization, Harlow Neighbors, Cal Young Neighborhood Association, and Northeast Neighbors.
Saturday’s exercise marks the second opportunity for neighborhood teams to participate in large-scale field exercise. In the warm-up exercise Sept. 24, neighborhood volunteers collected and transmitted text messages describing nearby neighbors in need. This Saturday, the teams will work with images depicting emergency situations.
While the large-scale field exercises are typically held each October in conjunction with the Great Oregon ShakeOut earthquake drill, small-group preparedness training and exercises are conducted throughout the year.
Many neighborhoods conduct monthly handheld radio drills. Small groups of nearby neighbors can meet to discuss how to support one another during an earthquake or an evacuation. Scripts encourage discussion of how to safely evacuate in the event of wildfire, hazardous materials, or inundation flooding.
For resources to help you convene meetings with your nearby neighbors, contact your neighborhood association, the Neighborhood Leaders Council, Eugene Emergency Management, or your other favorite local resources.