By Susan Motander
Monrovia’s police and fire departments have always prided themselves on being proactive. The Police Department has its highly successful Neighborhood Watch program as well as its involvement in the Monrovia Area Partnership. These are under the watchful care of its award-winning Community Activated Program. Over at Monrovia Fire and Rescue there are several programs involving the community. Volunteers are trained for disasters in the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and business owners have an opportunity to learn to cope with the Business Emergency Resiliency Training (BERT). Chief Dover has also put together an immediate response to brush fires that includes multiple engines, a hand crew, and a chopper for initial observation.
Monrovia Fire and Rescue has just shown that it is more prescient that ever. Three days before the first Ridgecrest earthquake on July 4, with the larger shock the next day, MFD hired a coordinator of emergency preparedness. While other cities were scrambling to put together their response to this most recent natural disaster, Monrovia has Suzanne Dobson already on board. She has already received training in emergency preparedness from both the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the state’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). She has been able to hit the ground running as she had previously also been the volunteer coordinator. Her new position expands her responsibilities.
Dobson now coordinates not only the CERT and BERT programs, but will also be responsible for preparing the city staff to operate the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in the event of a natural disaster. She says that, among other things, she hopes to expand the business program to include the small businesses on Myrtle.
“The people of Monrovia are its heart, but Myrtle Avenue is the community’s face,” she said. The program previously has focused on the larger businesses but she hopes to expand that.
She also plans to expand the training of the city staff so that there is redundancy in training for the personnel who can staff the EOC. She hopes to have at least three people trained for every role.
But she is not ignoring the CERT program. She reported that CERT now has a trailer and that in the event of a major fire in the community CERT volunteers are prepared to bring the trailer to the fire scene and assist firefighters with water and other necessities. They even have a phone tree set up to get volunteers to the scene as quickly as possible.
And she has only been on the job two weeks. There are many projects upon which she is already working. Dobson reported that CERT volunteers will be installing fire alarms on the morning of Aug. 24, between Cypress and Central avenues. There will also be a training at the EOC in October as part of the statewide “Big Shake” exercise. She also has plans for additional CERT and BERT training classes.