CITY OF PORTLAND
BUREAU OF FIRE, RESCUE & EMERGENCY SERVICES
Office of Community Emergency Services
WHAT is a Neighborhood Emergency Team?
A Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) is a group of at least 20 citizens trained by the Portland Fire Bureau to provide emergency assistance in their own neighborhood for 72 hours following a disaster such as a severe winter storm or major earthquake. The Fire Bureau might also activate the NETs in the event of a flood, hazardous material spill, wildland interface fire or other citywide/regional emergency. NET members also work in their respective neighborhoods to recruit more people for the NET training, to organize Team operations, and to help assure that all households in their area are prepared for any citywide emergency.
WHY train citizens in disaster response?
The Portland Fire Bureau initiated the NET Program as part of Community Emergency Services for the following reasons:
1. With the exception of hurricanes, the metropolitan Portland area is at risk for all types of natural disasters. The floods and storms of the past several winters have given us a sampling of these events. In addition to seasonal occurrences, we are also due for a major earthquake. According to the Oregon Department of Geology and the U. S. Geological Survey, our region has experienced a major earthquake about every 350 years and the next one is due anytime.
2. In the event of a major earthquake or other calamity, many neighborhoods will be on their own. Fire, Police, Maintenance and other City resources will be overwhelmed with requests for help, even while damaged streets, interrupted communications, and other conditions may slow down our operations.
3. In any calamity, most people naturally want to help their neighbors. Neighbors are first on the scene and in fact citizens are typically responsible for 80% of rescues performed in a disaster situation; however, would-be rescuers often become victims. Training is needed to keep those good Samaritans from becoming victims themselves, to help neighbors help each other more effectively, and to prepare citizens for active partnership with the Fire Bureau when disaster strikes.
4. We know the NET concept works. During the December ’95 wind storm, the February ’96 flood, and the January ’00 wind storm, the Portland Fire Bureau activated NETs to assist with downed power lines, supervise untrained volunteers at sandbagging sites, distribute official warnings to businesses and residents in the flood plain, and assist with reconnaissance of damaged levees. In each event, over 50% of the NET members “reported for duty” within 90 minutes of contact by the Bureau and without prior notice. Since the start of the NET Program in Portland, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has adopted the model nationally. There are currently over 80 programs like the NETs throughout the U.S.
HOW are Portland citizens trained?
Participants attend seven 3½-hour sessions of NET Basic Training and complete a four-hour certification exercise at the end of the course. The training is a modified version of FEMA’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) course and emphasizes hands-on practice. An outline of the Basic Training Course is attached.
Participants who complete the Basic Training are encouraged to continue with refresher and advanced classes which are offered by the Fire Bureau on a quarterly basis. These ongoing classes are critical in maintaining and enhancing NET members’ disaster response skills and team capabilities. In order to maintain their certification in the program, Team members must attend at least two advanced/refresher classes or exercises each calendar year.
Space in all the training-the basic course and the advanced classes-is available on a first come-first served basis and advanced registration is necessary. All NET training is conducted by Fire Bureau employees (mostly sworn personnel) and provided to Portland residents at no cost. Each trainee is responsible for assembling a kit of tools and personal protective equipment needed during NET operations.
Team members are also encouraged to volunteer with the Fire Bureau for other projects, e.g., presenting information about 72-hour kits and home preparedness to their own groups (such as Neighborhood Associations, PTAs, church and temple groups), assisting with the installation of smoke detectors at the request of homeowners in the neighborhood, coordinating neighborhood safety fairs, assisting the Fire Bureau in providing medical standby at the Rose Festival Parade, etc. In this way, the NET volunteers become partners working with us to promote fire and life safety in their own communities
WHO participates in the NETs?
The Fire Bureau certifies about 100 NET volunteers annually. Our goal is to train and help organize a Team in each of Portland’s 96 neighborhoods.
To date, over 800 citizens have been certified and nearly 60% of these are active in the program. The pool of NET members has about equal representation of male and female volunteers with a wide range of ages. (The youngest member is 14 years old; the oldest member is 81.) They represent 82/96 neighborhoods citywide and, in each neighborhood, current NET members are responsible for recruiting other participants.
For additional information about the NETs, please contact Lawrence Behmer, Portland Office of Emergency Management, (503) 823-4421.
Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) Basic Training
Session #1: DISASTER AWARENESS, HAZARD MITIGATION, NET CONCEPT
· Disaster Awareness
· Personal, Family and Work Place Preparedness
· Neighborhood Preparedness and NETs
Session #2: UTILITY CONTROL, FIRE SUPPRESSION, HAZARDOUS MATERIALS
· Gas, Electricity, Water–When to Shut Off and How
· Fire Chemistry and Extinguishers–Types and Use
· Hazardous Materials in the Home and Workplace
· Tabletop Exercise (I)
Session #3: DISASTER MEDICINE (I)
· Recognition and Treatment of Life-Threatening Injuries
· Medical Triage–How to Decide Who to Treat and When
Session #4: DISASTER MEDICINE (II)
· Treatment of Minor Injuries
· Setting Up a Medical Treatment Area
· Public Health Considerations–Hygiene, Bloodborne Pathogens
Session #5 LIGHT SEARCH & RESCUE (I)
· Earthquake Effects on Different Types of Construction
· Visual Assessment of Damaged Buildings
· Search Techniques
Session #6: LIGHT SEARCH & RESCUE (II)
· Rescue Techniques
· Patient Transport
· Rescuer Safety Review
Session #7: TEAM RESPONSE AND MANAGEMENT
· Disaster Psychology for Victims and Rescuers
· NET Team Management
· NETs in Action–Tabletop Exercise (II)
Session #8: FINAL EXERCISE
· Disaster Medical Triage and Treatment
· Visual Damage Assessment
· Fire Extinguishment
· Urban Search Techniques
· Cribbing & Victim Extrication
Quarterly: ADVANCED/REFRESHER CLASS OR EXERCISE