Santa Paula Times

Council: SP Citizens Corps to launch emergency door hanger program

April 09, 2010
Santa Paula City Council

What’s red and green and smart all over?

New, easy to use door hangers meant to alert public safety as well as neighbors in times of emergency. The door hangers, the City Council learned at the April 5 meeting, will be distributed on Saturday, April 17.

Santa Paula Police Chief Steve MacKinnon said it was important that the council and the community know “how we got to this point. We have a group called Santa Paula Citizens Corps” that meets on a monthly basis. Citizens Corps Council is comprised of the “people who would come together if there was an emergency,” such as fire, flood or earthquake.

MacKinnon said among the members are himself and Fire Chief Rick Araiza  and representatives of schools, CERT and the media, among others. Citizens Corps takes a “planning approach” to emergency response that includes anticipating possible needs, ranging from equipment to training.

“When a major emergency comes here, public safety will be taxed to the max,” and MacKinnon said it is important that residents understand they “could be on their own” for up to 24 hours or possibly longer. “We wanted to make sure the neighborhoods” can react on their own, and that includes helping public safety - and each other - identify those who might need immediate attention. The door hangers are red on side and green on the other, with simple bilingual instructions of how they work.

“The theory is to encourage the community to hold on to these, put them on the refrigerator or someplace else with easy access.” Then, noted MacKinnon, in case of emergency the door hanger can be placed in a window, on the mailbox or hung from the doorknob with green stating that “everything is OK... if there’s a problem, a medication issue, or if someone is injured,” the red side - which reads “Help” and “Ayuda” would be displayed and “flag us there’s a problem.”

Although the door hangers are meant to inform emergency responders of a household’s status, “More important is it encourages the neighborhood to keep an eye on each other. If you see red, check, talk to your neighbor and see if something is going on,” whether it be a problem with shutting off their water or a major emergency.

“We’re going to encourage the neighborhoods to keep an eye on each other.... We’ll be so stressed out taking care” of a major emergency; the red side of the door hanger is meant to prompt a neighbor-to-neighbor visit.

MacKinnon said in case the red side of the hanger is displayed, “Go talk to your neighbor, see what’s going on, maybe it’s simple... or serious. God forbid, if we have a major emergency” pubic safety would be taxed, and MacKinnon said Citizens Corps is “looking to get the entire community involved” with the new door hanger notification program.

Chief Araiza told the council that Santa Paula Citizen Corps Council developed several years ago from the CERT (Citizens Emergency Response Team) program and Ready Santa Paula! The door hangers, he added, are “basically a tool” sponsored by Citizens Corps for residents’ emergency preparedness toolbox.

“On April 17 we’re getting together at the Gazebo” on the corner of East Santa Barbara and North Mill streets, where Araiza said volunteers will meet with distribution coordinators. “We’re going to have high school and elementary school students, CERT, Police Explorers, Boy and Girl Scout troops” and others help in the effort. “Depending on how many volunteers we have,” Araiza said the city will be divided into assigned segments for helpers, who will go door-to-door distributing the hangers “with an explanation of what this is.”

Those interested in volunteering can visit the Ready Santa Paula! website, and click on Get Involved or Events Calendar sections for contact information at the bottom of each page. Or, said Araiza, visit the Ready Santa Paula Facebook page and leave a message, “Then, we’ll get back to you if you want to help.” Those interested in volunteering can also call SPFD Captain Steve Lazenby at 933-4297.

Door hangers will also be available at all city buildings, including the Santa Paula Police Station, Santa Paula Fire Stations #1 and #2, City Hall and the Community Development Department, as well as at Blanchard Community Library.