The Beverly Hills Health and Safety Commission reviewed portions of the city’s emergency response infrastructure at its June 28 meeting, highlighting the role of community members and volunteers in the city’s public safety apparatus. Despite robust police and fire departments, Beverly Hills relies on a network of volunteers within the city in times of emergencies and special events.
The Disaster Communications System (DCS) operates as an auxiliary communications system for the city “in situations where normal telephone, cellular, two-way radio, satellite or other communication links fail,” DCS volunteer Pamela Meadow said.
The group had its origins in 1994 following the Northridge earthquake. The 6.7 magnitude quake brought down the city’s radio system, forcing employees to resort to payphones to communicate. More recently, DCS aided the Beverly Hills Fire Department (BHFD) in 2015, providing six hours of radio communications after a power outage disrupted its systems. The group also provides assistance in cases of burglary suppression and locating missing persons. The group has frozen recruitment efforts due to COVID-19 and the city’s search for a new Chief of Police. Prospective applicants must have a HAM radio license and undergo a thorough background check, among other requirements.
The Commission also heard updates on its Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, an educational program that outfits community members with essential knowledge for navigating and assisting during crises. Volunteers are taught basic disaster preparedness skills like fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, disaster medical operations and terrorism response.
The program has coordinated with Just In Case, the city’s neighborhood-based emergency preparedness program. Additionally, CERT has expanded to local schools in Beverly Hills through its Teen CERT branch. For more information, visit www.beverlyhills.org/departments/firedepartment/cert, or email email@example.com.