Monthly Archives: November 2011
This is the first in a series of DEM Blogs that will highlight a San Francisco Hero. For those of you who don’t get our reference, we recently launched an iPhone and soon to be Android smart phone app called SF Heroes. The app is dedicated to promoting community preparedness and resilience. If you haven’t checked it out, we hope you will—and share it with your fellow heroes. And for those of you who have an Android smart phone, your version of SF Heroes will be ready this spring. SF Heroes can be found in the iTunes store.
With the virtual rise of SF Heroes (those who download the app and earn badges to become SF Heroes), we also want to recognize heroes among us who promote resilience to emergencies and/or disasters or have done something extraordinary to support their community. We are honored to kick-off this special DEM Blog highlighting SF Hero: San Francisco Fire Department Lieutenant Erica Arteseros.
This year’s Neighborhood Empowerment Network (NEN) Awards were awesome. True, they always are, but this one in particular was awesome.
Why? We think it is because San Francisco Neighborhood Response Team (NERT) was recognized twice. First for receiving a standing award called the Exemplary NERT Leadership Award; congratulations to Diane Rivera who received this one. And the second, also a standing award, is called the Most Empowering City Employee Award. Lieutenant Arteseros with San Francisco Fire Department and NERT leader earned this award. We say amen!
When asked about earning this award, Lieutenant Arteseros humbly shared “I am most appreciative of this award. It really means a lot to me that members of the San Francisco community chose to recognize me as empowering. I do not do so alone and it is them that inspire me!”
Lieutenant Arteseros is responsible for one of San Francisco’s most important resident-focused disaster preparedness programs, NERT. NERT is a free training program for individuals, neighborhood groups and community-based organizations in San Francisco. It teaches hands-on disaster skills that help individuals respond to a personal emergency as well as act as members of a neighborhood response team. She works tirelessly to promote NERT trainings throughout San Francisco. She does the work of many to do so. Thanks to Lieutenant Arteseros, San Francisco has thousands and thousands of trained individuals who can assist in light search and rescue during times of emergency.
When I first interviewed for a position as an Emergency Management Public Information Officer, I distinctly remember the question: Do you know what Emergency Management does? I pondered, could I fake my way through the question or would I need to come clean. I chose the high road and responded, “I do not know exactly what Emergency Management does, but I assume it has everything to do with the blue line that scrolls across the bottom of television screen when there is a disaster.”
That blue line – I’ve come to know – is the Emergency Alert System or EAS. It’s a public notification system used by television and radio to notify listeners of disasters. It is accompanied by an alert tone, a rather annoying one, and a message, either print or verbal depending upon the medium. Television and radio stations are required to test their equipment each month, but November’s monthly test will be a little different, because it is the first time the EAS will air simultaneously nationwide on all television and radio stations.
Here are the details:
- WHEN: Wednesday, November 9 at 11am PDT, for three minutes
- WHERE: Every television and radio station, including cable television and satellite radio
- WHY: To test simultaneous nationwide alert and notification capabilities
Here are the challenges:
- It is possible the visual message on the television screen may not explicitly say “This is a TEST”
- It is unclear if the messages will be translated into languages other than English, as translation is left up to each specific station
- If someone is hearing impairedor does not understand English, they could take the test as an actual emergency situation
This is an opportunity to test mass notification and put the Federal Communications Commission on the path to integrated alerts that could include multiple alert points, including mobile phones. It is a huge undertaking and has been in the works for many months. The trick is to make sure everyone understands what it means when they see the simple blue line or hear theEAS signal coming from every television, cable, radio and satellite station on November 9th that it “…is a test and only a test…”
It is a chance to move beyond the simple blue line.