WPV-Ready is about Emergency Preparedness
This page explains how we organize that work.
WPV-Ready operates throughout the Woodside Fire Protection District (WFPD), serving over 20,000 residents in the towns of Woodside and Portola Valley, as well as some unincorporated areas of San Mateo County.
WPV-Ready is dedicated to bringing all residents of our district to a better level of emergency preparedness. Whether you are just getting started, or already have a lot of resilience in your life, WPV-Ready will help you get further. We start with preparedness at the personal and home level. From there we organize neighborhoods into Ready Communities. And all of our Ready Communities add up to the full WPV-Ready district-wide program.
WPV-Ready is organized as a group of social communities, called "Ready Communities." Each Ready Community is self-selecting and led by a small group of committed volunteers. A Ready Community is a volunteer leadership team, a list of street addresses, and a method for distributing preparedness information, typically an email distribution list.
Communities register with the WPV-Ready organization. WPV-Ready provides informational materials and training for leaders and members of the Ready Community. How the Ready Communities organize and communicate with their members can vary based on needs of the community.
How prepared are you?
We think of the general "preparedness level" of a home or community as being at one of these 3 stages:
- Starting: Just learning about Emergency Preparedness and the resources available through WPV-Ready. Working on the first and most important 3 steps, the "Preparedness Jump Start."
- Get the Jump Start PDF...
- 1. Stay Connected. Register with SMC Alert so you get important emergency alerts. Learn about the other ways to get information.
- Learn more on the Stay Informed page...
- 2. Make a Plan. Know how you will find and communicate with family and friends, where to meet after an evacuation, and who to share the information with.
- Learn more on the Make a Plan page...
- 3. Get a Go-Bag. Have a bag packed and ready to go, so if you have to evacuate in front of a fire, you will have what you need to survive in relative comfort and calm.
- Learn more on the Get a Go-Bag page...
- Basic: All of the Starting points, plus you have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, you have fire extinguishers, and you know proper evacuation procedures.
- Prepared: You have all of the above points, plus the rest of the “Basics of Preparedness Checklist” items checked off.
And there are many opportunities to get involved in advanced topics. You might want to pick up skills like First Aid, CPR, AED, or CERT Basic Training.
For a home, the levels are just as described above. For a community, having half of all homes at a level puts the community at that level. For instance, if half of the homes have gotten to the Basic level, the whole community is at the Basic level.
The primary goal of WPV-Ready is personal and household preparedness.
We want to ensure that households are ready for disasters such as Public Safety Power Shut-offs (PSPS), wildfires, earthquakes, floods, and landslides. We assume that wide-area disasters (e.g., pandemics, terrorism) are handled by the County Office of Emergency Services. Household preparedness is ultimately up to individuals and families. WPV-Ready can be a powerful force in helping families prepare. When households are prepared, much of what needs to be done during an actual emergency is streamlined and neighbors can help each other. WPV-Ready encourages neighbors to help their neighbors especially with immediate needs before outside help arrives.
We organize Ready Communities using existing social structures.
Communities that have social connectivity and geographical proximity make good Ready Communities. They tend to have a reason for existing independent of WPV-Ready. Most of these communities are already connected via an email distribution list and annual gatherings. Examples include: Home Owner Associations (HOAs), Neighborhood Watch groups, and physical neighborhoods with common purpose. There are many existing social communities within the district. Social communities can be as big as Ladera and Portola Valley Ranch, or as small as a neighborhood with a few houses. Outreach within a social community has been shown to be effective because it is personal. Personal contact and outreach from someone you know is highly influential. Ready Communities can and have been built from scratch but require more diligence to maintain over time.
We treat volunteers as a precious and scarce resource.
People have busy schedules and less time to participate. Appreciate the volunteers that make the time to help others, and use their time wisely. We help our Community Leaders organize their local teams, and find local volunteers to help with projects. Together we leverage volunteers to provide value to the largest number of people. We pool resources so a small group of volunteers can provide useful information for all Ready Communities, for example with online discussion tools and printed information packets. Of course, not everyone is cut out to fill every volunteer role, and we work together to find useful, rewarding things for all volunteers to help with. The only thing we push back against is negativity. We want all WPV-Ready volunteers to be positive and supportive of all other WPV-Ready volunteers. We just don't have enough volunteers to do it any other way! And sometimes there is a bad fit on a team, or a project, or just a matter of "does not work well with others." We will do everything we can to keep all volunteers working in the roles that they find exciting and positive. And we will find some other place for volunteers to find rewarding work, if they just aren't happy in their own community!
Connect adjacent Ready Communities to share insights and best practices.
Just as cities and counties have Mutual Aid Agreements that allow them to form more effective teams during a crisis by agreeing on their basic organization well ahead of time, Ready Communities are encouraged to coordinate communication and other resources with neighboring Ready Communities. This is how a small natural community can gain much more "strength in numbers" when that is needed.
Acknowledge that many Divisions have been successful and continue to have value.
Divisions were a part of C.E.R.P.P. (our predecessor program) before WPV-Ready and WPV-CERT. Divisions by design were large with hundreds of homes. Successful Divisions were based on existing social communities. As we transition to Ready Communities, existing Divisions can simply become a Ready Community or reorganize into small Ready Communities. There are ongoing benefits of transitioning Divisions. They have trained volunteers that are active. The infrastructure already exists for many important activities like distributing critical emergency preparedness information, activating local resources to provide initial disaster assessment, making it straightforward to start a Ready Community.
Steps to starting a new Ready Community
Start small and expand. We start where natural communities exist. That could be as small as a handful of homes on a single street, or as large as a Home Owners' Association with hundreds of homes. To help you understand what the district-level leaders are looking for in an Ready Community, here is a simple list of those items!
- 1. There are two or more Community Leaders working as a team.
- Success hinges on committed community leaders and reliable volunteers. Creating a team helps to share the load. Every Ready Community should have at least 2 Community Leaders. Not only does that make it easy to share the work, but there is no worry if a leader is on vacation when the community needs support. It's also very important to have someone who can take over the primary leadership role when current leaders leave the area.
- 2. The Ready Community is identified and connected.
- All residents have been contacted and their contact information has been collected, including emergency contact information, registration with SMCAlert, and connection to online information sources. Residents who do not want to participate or who cannot be contacted are noted appropriately. This information is kept in the online Community Editor tool.
- 3. Prepared individuals and households, measured and managed.
- All residents know about and are getting support to use the Ready Community checklists. These online tools tell Community Leaders who is ready for a next step, who is looking for help with a project, and how things are progressing in the community. For instance I, the volunteer writing this sentence, use the checklist to keep track of the basics that need work around my home. I can tell my Community Leader about my need to get my fire extinguishers checked. And the community can see how we are doing generally on things like fire extinguishers and smoke alarms.
- 4. Communications are flowing. Programs are being promoted.
- Community Leaders should have easy access to the materials they need to spread information. Preparedness news and information are accessible. Webinars and events are publicised. And feedback is confirming that, for instance, all residents are registered with SMC Alert.
- 5. Help with district-wide improvement planning.
- We always need more volunteers. But we don't want to burden our Community Leaders with lots of work that isn't rewarding. We do not expect everyone to be interested in planning district-wide events, or writing articles. There is enough to do just keeping the checkboxes checked. We DO ask all Community Leaders to participate in feedback opportunities. We value all suggestions, at any time. But a couple of times each year we also just want to reach out to all of our Ready Communities and rally a snapshot of our needs.
And there is plenty of opportunity to be involved in wider planning and projects. We operate a WPV-Ready Committee that meets monthly to plan and manage projects. We have a number of projects going on at any time. Both of the Towns in our district have Emergency Preparedness Committees that are involved in their own projects, and always need volunteers. Never hesitate to ask about things for a volunteer to volunteer for.
- 6. Risk assessments are being done.
- This is a simple matter of managing some more detailed checklists. We make it all easy with the online tools. Use the "Basics of Emergency Preparedness" checklist to manage the big picture and get the big disaster threats under control. Use the "Fire Risk Assessment" tool to do a detailed analysis of the ignition risks faced by each home in your Ready Community.
- 7. Community outreach is being done.
- Have some gatherings to organize basic preparedness and promote topics. Emergency preparedness topics can seem like a lot of new concerns, so they are most easily adopted over time, among friends, in casual conversations. We help with presentations, give-aways, consulting, and so forth. If you have neighbors who want to hear more, we have volunteers who want to tell all about it!
- 8. CERT response is integrated.
- When disaster strikes, WPV-CERT, our Community Emergency Response Team, will be working to manage small problems before they become large problems. Knowing how to gather information in your community, and pass that to WPV-CERT and other responders, can save time and suffering in a disaster. You should know who the trained CERTs in your community are, what happens in a CERT activation, and how to integrate with CERT for help and support.
- 9. Sufficient resources are being allocated and incentivized.
- At the district level, Ready Communities are tracked and incentivized to reach preparedness goals. At the Ready Community level, residents are also tracked and incentivezed to reach target goals. Volunteer time is scarce, and we depend on our volunteers to help us all do the most good for the most people, by making the WPV-Ready program engaging and rewarding at all levels. That means identifying the resources needed to allow Ready Communities to succeed in their goals.
- 10. Volunteers are supported and motivated.
- An important measure of the success of the whole program is the extent to which volunteers feel motivated. That means there has to be a lot of attention paid to supporting all volunteers, and providing a program where their efforts lead to real good in their lives and their community. Not every job is a good fit for every volunteer, and nobody should ever feel obligated to continue doing a thing that makes them feel bad. It is a specific goal of the WPV-Ready program to make all volunteers feel strongly engaged and motivated in whatever way we need to, not just by supplying resources but also by building the program our volunteers need, in order to feel more safe in the face of unknown disasters to come.
Our relationship with WPV-CERT
WPV-CERT is the partner organization of WPV-Ready. WPV-CERT responds to emergencies as defined by their standard operating procedures. WPV-Ready can request assistance from WPV-CERT and can provide spontaneous volunteers to WPV-CERT when they are available. WPV-Ready can also help WPV-CERT collect any special needs information before an emergency, verify house addresses and other community information that would be useful to WPV-CERT. Mature Ready Communities may also deliver completed “standard rapid needs assessment” forms for use with Town-wide damage assessment. We hope that all residents in our district will want to learn the skills to save lives and property in a disaster. Our CERT program, WPV-CERT, is a great place to start in getting those next-level skills. When fate pushes you, preparedness lets you hold on. WPV-CERT lets you push back.
What is in our future?
Many of the programs and procedures that are needed to sustain the WPV-Ready program into the future are being actively developed right now. We need all the volunteer input we can get as we build the program up. The goal is to create a WPV-Ready that can be sustained by any motivated leader. This is a "business building" exercise, with many of the characteristics of any business start-up. By 2024, we intend to have a program that is so well defined and automated, so intuitive and sensible, that the current district-level leaders can step aside and let some new team take the reins. If we don't actually do that, we will never know if we have gotten to that point of "program maturity." So doing the big turnover is an explicit part of our plans.