Something really interesting is going on in Goleta for those who want to be prepared to deal with a disaster in our area, should it ever happen. And who’s to say that it won’t? Whether we are talking about huge disasters, like the recent earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, or the fires in our backyard, the phrase “better safe than sorry” is making more and more sense.

The Orfalea Fund’s Aware and Prepare Initiative, which was awarded the California Emergency Services Association (CESA) in 2010 for its innovation in emergency management, in collaboration with the City of Goleta and nine other public and private agencies, has put together a series of trainings called Listos – Aware and Prepare.

Silvia Uribe

What they offer is a comprehensive eight-week training, right in the heart of Goleta at the Goleta Valley Community Center. Rubayi Srivastava, the program manager for Goleta Prepare Now, said that the program is targeted for “hard to reach populations,” including seniors, low income families, special needs individuals, and non-English speakers. “We have done these trainings mainly in English and Spanish, but also have instructors who have done trainings in Ukrainian and in Russian”.

Srivastava continued by describing the makeup of program teams. “We counted with the participation of community providers in nine jurisdictions to determine the approach that we wanted to have in our training, and we have adapted it to our community’s needs. The trainers are all supervisors in their own field from UCSB, Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara City, and City of Carpinteria Fire Departments, the Red Cross, NARGAN security, MRC (Medical Reserve Care), Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, the Faith Initiative, and Ventura Federal Fire.”

The sessions are held once a week and last three hours each. The training started on April 6, and will continue until May 25, having a different focus every week. The following is the rundown on each week’s topics:

Week 1 – General Preparedness: Understanding the different emergencies, and emergency kit preparation

Week 2 – Fire Safety: Dealing with water, gas, and electricity. How to utilize extinguishers, and the importance of knowing our capacities and limitations when dealing with an emergency

Week 3 – Medical Operations I: Life-threatening conditions – triage

Week 4 – Medical Operations II: Patient assessment and establishment of a treatment area

Week 5 – Light Search and Rescue: Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) – Assuring that CERT members are protected when they are doing search and rescue activities, and searching methods both during the day and in the dark

Week 6 – CERT Organization (for a large group in case of deployment): How to establish a functioning system in terms of first response

Week 7 – Disaster Psychology: Coping with death, and how to face disaster. Terrorism and CERT: The role of a diligent citizen and how to be better aware of our surroundings.

Week 8 – Review and Graduation: Full disaster simulation

Srivastava emphasized that the intention of the trainings is eventually to have several trained groups that, countrywide, are a large group. The focus is not for CERT members to personally save lives, but to know how to organize so that others can focus on saving those lives. Srivastava also noted, “Since many of these skills can be used in participants’ personal [lives], at the end of the training they can receive CPR training if they’re interested.”

“This effort is led by the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services, and all trainings are in collaboration throughout the operational area,” concluded Srivastava. “The collaboration helps us standardize the program, increase our reach, localize it to our needs, and capitalize on our strengths.”

If you are interested in being a guest during the current training, you’re welcome to attend a session. You can also participate fully in future Listos – Aware and Prepare trainings, or, if you have a business or agency and are interested in having your employees attend one of these trainings, send an email to For more information, visit


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