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5-Step Neighborhood Preparedness Organizing Begins
in Westside Village

Westside neighbors put their training into action and are well along in the process of organizing a preparedness team using the 5-Step process. They hope to be part of a larger network of preparedness teams in Westside Village and offered to help other blocks get started.

Their planning process began when three residents attended an organizing meeting on October 7, 2014 at the Palms-Rancho Branch of the LA City Library. Sponsored by the Westside Village Homeowners Association, that meeting introduced Westside Village residents to the 5-Step Planning Process developed by the City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department. The primary purpose of the plan is to outline strategies for neighborhood members to sustain themselves in the event of a disaster until City services and outside support arrives. It is built on the concept of “neighbor helping neighbor.”

The three, who didn’t know each other before the community meeting, got together the following week. Later joined by others on their block, they initiated a planning process that included an open, introductory gathering of their neighbors on November 4, 2014, during which they presented the process and distributed surveys. Leadership of the planning process has been entirely voluntary and, over the course of the plan’s development, the initial four added new core team members including their Neighborhood Watch block captain. Going forward, they expect even more neighbors to get actively involved.

Using the survey provided in the 5-Step Kit, the team received nearly 80 percent response rate thus far. They’ve learned that their block consists of 44 homes with 46 households and, like most of Los Angeles, its residents are ethnically and culturally diverse. In addition to English, languages spoken include Burmese, French, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Kannada, Spanish, Thai, Tulu, and Urdu. Survey results also identified residents with CERT training, various types of medical experience, and practical skills such as information technology, plumbing, and mechanics. They also took inventory of the amount and location of supplies such as hand-held radios, tools, and survival or camping equipment. Some residents offered to use their vehicles or bicycles in the event emergency transportation was needed.

The planning committee drafted a basic plan which identifies threats and risks to the neighborhood, neighborhood assets (skills and materials), and a community disaster response strategy. They also included appendices detailing how specific tasks, such as communications, triage and first aid, and search and rescue will be performed; describing responses to specific hazards such as floods or earthquakes; and various ways individual households can prepare for and respond to emergencies. They designated a disaster meet-up spot, and their next steps include identifying locations within their block for care centers for the elderly, children, and those needing special assistance, and for medical treatment and animal rescue.

Their plan states,“We have developed this plan not simply as a written document but as the beginning of an educational process that we intend to sustain for ourselves as individuals and for our neighborhood as a whole. Preparedness planning is an essential form of community building: neighbor helping neighbor.” One of the organizers remarked that this process has been a great way to get to know his neighbors. And, he pointed out, that a disaster is not the time to start making friends.

www.5steps.la has everything you need to host a planning meeting on your block, including a link to an inspirational introductory video, an invitation template, a script for you to use at your organizational meeting, a sample disaster plan, and a template for you to create a plan for your block. For more information, or to contact one of the Westside Village team organizers, email westsidevillagentp@gmail.com.