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Our Community Focus

First Responder Roundtable By Jim Bonato

Pleasant Hill CERT and the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District are co-sponsoring a roundtable presentation on September 26 to educate Pleasant Hill residents on the role of first responders in major emergencies such as a wildfires and earthquakes. 


            As of late July, thousands of people are under evacuation orders in Northern California due to the plague of wildfires. Lives have been lost, both of first responders and residents, and there has been devastating property loss. Faced with the mental anguish and uncertainty of what happens next in the minutes or hours that follow, residents facing these wildfires have an urgent need to know: Is my family safe? Where are the pets? Do I need to evacuate? What should I bring? Where do I go? How do I get there and what roads are open? When can I return?


            Prior to last year's swiftly spreading fires in urbanized areas of Napa and Sonoma counties, Pleasant Hill residents probably gave little thought to wildfires changing their lives. However, with Briones Regional Park a short distance from the western border of Pleasant Hill and treasured open space throughout the western edges of the city, our residents are now more keenly aware of what could happen in the event of wildfire.  


            This roundtable presentation could not come at a more critical time and will involve representatives of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department, California Highway Patrol, Pleasant Hill Police Department, City of Pleasant Hill, Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District, American Red Cross, and Salvation Army.


            All invitees are first responders who play key coordinated roles in confronting a disaster and responding to it. Each group will give 10 to 15 minute presentations on what their agency’s role is in providing warning to residents, establishing Emergency Operation Centers, coordinating city, county, and fire district responses, giving evacuation notices to key neighborhoods, closing freeway and on/off ramps, identifying evacuation routes, providing safety to residents and property, identifying potential evacuation centers with likely opening times, and preparing for relief services for evacuees.


            Pleasant Hill residents who leave this roundtable discussion will be encouraged to think of how they should prepare themselves and their families in a major emergency and, more importantly, have a better understanding and confidence in our first responders and the key roles they play in preserving lives and property.


            The first responders’ roundtable is at 6:30pm on Wednesday, September 26, at the Pleasant Hill Community Center, 320 Civic Drive in Pleasant Hill.