“NERTs don’t get hurt.”
This is slogan is repeated often during Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) training sessions held throughout the year in various San Francisco neighborhoods.
Led by the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD), NERT is a community-based training program dedicated to a neighbor-helping-neighbor approach, educating San Franciscans with tools and resources needed in the event of a disaster. NERT is a free program for individuals, neighborhood groups and community-based organizations in San Francisco to learn the basics of personal preparedness and prevention. The training also includes hands-on disaster skills that helps individuals respond to a personal emergency as well as act as members of a neighborhood response team.
Since 1990, the NERT program was born following the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989 and has trained more than 24,700 San Francisco residents to be self-reliant in unforeseen catastrophes and major incidents. The program also shows how civilians can assist first responders in various disaster scenarios, including search and rescue, triage, and putting out small fires.
Following a major earthquake, the SFPUC’s primary responsibility is to secure its infrastructure and restore service to support first responders. The SFPUC’s partnership SFFD and NERT allows for an organized approach to empower residents to participate in emergency response. This includes NERT members and other community-based organizations to help set up the water manifold in the event of an emergency and distribute potable water to those in need.
As related to the SFPUC’s emergency preparedness and response, NERT has three specific responsibilities when they assist the SFPUC:
- Damage observation: Be the “eyes and ears” on the ground and note visible damage.
- Water quality information and notification: Help to communicate safe techniques for determining if water is safe to use and how to treat water.
- Assist to distribute potable water: Setting up the water manifold, collect or distribute bottle water donations, and set up large water containers for the community to receive water.
In the event the SFPUC leverages NERT during an emergency, there is a chain of command to maximize efficiency in communication and mobilization.