Participate InYour Neighborhood Emergency Preparedness Groups Because Together:together_so_much

  • We Are Stronger and More Resiliant
  • and More Likely To Survive Than If We Act Only As Individuals

The likelihood of survival and best outcomes after emergencies is much higher in like-minded, cohesive groups, which is why the Orem Hillcrest Area Emergency Response Plan was created — to help individuals and families living in the Orem-Hillcrest Area to organize themselves in such a way as to maximize the number of Orem residents who can survive a short-term or long-term Emergency. The three reasons (which boil down to the first reason) for organizing and preparing to respond to emergencies as groups include:

  1. People are more likely to survive in like-minded groups (survival of the sociable/cooperative):
    • Groups that share and work together to save each other in emergencies, are much more likely to survive while loners are more likely to die. Also, the more that groups have in common, the better they do in emergencies. - (See Harvard University Study On Who Survives and Who Doesn't Following Disasters).
    • Survival is the second  law of life. The first is that we are all one. (Joseph Campbell)
    • Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. (Helen Keller)
  2. Help from outside a distressed locality doesn’t come quickly. Locals are always first on the scene:
    • “For the most effective disaster response, members of the community should be used as first responders.  After all, they are always first on the scene.” (Mileti, Little Hoover Commission Study, 2006)
  3. Planning is the key to everything. (Dwight D. Eisenhower)
    • If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  (Benjamin Franklin)

The LDS Church and the City of Orem Teamed Up for Meaningful Emergency Preparedness

Orem City first tried to create a group, emergency response organizing strategy using  school boundaries and PTAs. This effort, however, never got any traction, due to lack of volunteer support. That’s when Orem City decided to ask faith based groups to give it a try as far as organizing and carrying out emergency preparedness.

Using Faith Based Groups for Emergency Response Is A Match Made in Heaven

The LDS Church, for nearly a hundred years,  has given a very strong emphasis to emergency preparedness. As the LDS church considered this option of joining with local governments to carry out emergency response, they realized that more lives would be saved by getting fully behind City efforts than by proceeding unilaterally.

When the LDS Church agreed to become the organizing backbone for the Orem City Emergency Preparedness plan, positive involvement of Orem citizens happening almost immediately. At this point, we can say that the idea to work together was a brilliant one.

The result of this cooperation is that Orem City has agreed to do the following things before and during emergencies:

  1. Provide frequent CERT Training opportunities for Orem residents. This training teaches Orem residents how to not become victims and how to join together to save the maximum number of lives when helping their neighbors in an emergency situation. The more Orem residents that are trained the better for everyone in Orem.
  2. Conduct a yearly Orem City Drill to help prepare Orem residents and Orem City Emergency Managers.
  3. Set up and operate a Professional City Emergency Operations Center, with which to back up citizen disaster response efforts, and provide the following services (if able) during a disaster/emergency:
    • Provide police response to crime.
    • Provide major fire suppression.
    • Provide major Search and Rescue operations — utilizing professionals that are better trained and have specialized equipment giving them capabilities beyond what CERT members have.
    • Communicate with Orem citizens through its Orem Emergency Alert system
    • Communicate with Orem citizens through its Amateur Radio Communications Center.
    • Coordinate with other government organizations - Orem City is the gate keeper for accessing City, County, State and Federal Resources

Orem Citizens Are Responsible to Carry Out First Response (Triage, Rescue and Initial Medical Help For Victims

The reality of widespread emergencies or disasters is that ordinary people will always be the first on the scene... professionals will arrive up to days, weeks or months  later. Essentially, a disaster in Orem is the citizens’ disaster, and it will be up to citizens to deal with it and not count on “rescuers”. In fact, planning to rely on rescuers is the worst possible attitude and brings the worst possible results.

  • Historical data from other emergencies shows that during a significant emergency, government and other “public” emergency responders will be totally overwhelmed.
  • The time needed for Orem City,  Utah State and FEMA assistance to reach individual homes in Orem is likely to be measured in weeks and months following a major disaster.
  • Likewise, non-governmental, medical professionals and facilities will be overwhelmed. For instance, not only will there be insufficient doctors and nurses to attend to the injured, but, there will be no room in hospitals to house the large numbers of injured or even to store dead bodies. (Utah Valley Regional Hospital, for instance, can store only 5 dead bodies.)

The LDS Church (Its Members, Buildings and Communication Systems) Will Form A Backbone for Organizing Orem Citizens In Responding Quickly As Groups to a Widespread Emergency

The reasons that this is a great direction to go include:

  • 50% of Orem’s population are active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days (LDS or Mormon Church)
  • There are 40+ LDS Church meetinghouses throughout Orem City
  • LDS Church local unit leaders have the ability to  “call” people (request members to serve) to do the job of leading emergency preparedness activities in their local units. This is the key reason why it is possible for the LDS Church to ”activate” manpower (volunteers) to make this emergency response project happen.

Important Note: Although, the LDS Church's existing organization forms a major backbone for this organizing effort, it it still a citizen effort that is not concerned with religious affiliation, but rather with preparing to save lives in the event of a widespread emergency.

In this plan, the LDS Church is responsible for the following organization roles:

  • To organize and train LDS members, and all community volunteers who will band together in this effort, to function within emergency preparedness groups called Area, Neighborhoods and Blocks. The Area and Neighborhood boundaries corresponding to geographical boundaries of LDS Stakes and Wards. (See more about these organizational units in the right-hand column.)
  • To encourage as many persons as possible to receive CERT and Red Cross training as provided by the City and Red Cross organizations
  • To encourage as many persons as possible to  become amateur radio operators and to organize amateur radio operators within the above response units for the purpose of maintaining communications from and to City and Church leaders during emergencies.

In the event of a major emergency, all persons who have been organized into these response groups will go into action  to assess needs and give emergency care to their neighbors by:

  • Quickly going home to home within Blocks to discover and report to Neighborhood, Area and City leaders the extent of need of Orem residents and property damage following a disaster.
  • Providing rescue and care efforts to injured and displaced (which is why everyone is urged to become CERT trained).
  • Continuously communicating via runners and amateur radio the status and needs of Orem Hillcrest residents to Orem City and to LDS Church leaders.
  • With relief and rescue operations being coordinated from LDS Chuch Buildings (Command Centers) which become  triage and medical treatment centers, emergency operation coordination centers, temporary morgues, and other potential uses in cooperation with Orem City.

Neighbors Responding Together Quick Links:

It's Neighborly to Prepare Together

You should prepare with your neighbors because:

  • The first law of life is that we are all one.
    • We are much more likely to survive an emergency if we respond together.
  • Prophecies and the the signs of the times tell us that we are getting closer to the winding up scenes of earth prior to the Second Coming, and that modern conveniences may easily disappear.
    • Aging infrastructure, increasing rate of occurrences of catastrophic weather, earthquakes, solar flares, armed conflicts and terrorism all provide plausible Apocalyptic kick-offs.
  • The collective capacity of a group to solve problems that arise in emergencies is far greater than the sum of the individual capacities of those in the group. We are better off together than as individuals.
  • Each unprepared neighbor will become a burden for prepared neighbors when calamities strike, so be encouraging preparedness as a group, more people will prepare and not be burdens.
    • Of course, neighbors will be willing to share what they have accumulated for emergency preparedness, but there will be less to go around.
  • Not preparing for potential calamities sets a bad example that others may follow.
    • Even if one is old, and believes that prophesied calamities will occur after one’s own natural death, one’s bad example may influence and do harm to one's children, grand-children and others who mayn follow our bad example of not preparing.

Emergency Response Groups

Here is how our Orem population is broken down into manageable groups for needs assessment and rendering of help: (note that Leadership comes from “called” (assigned) LDS Church members and from volunteers outside of LDS Church membership).  (See visual chart of this structure)

  • Area —Orem City is divided into twenty-two areas, each organized around the geographical boundaries of an LDS Church organization unit called a Stake (there are between 2,000 to 4,000 people per Stake). In our case, our area is called the Orem-Hillcrest Stake.
    • Area emergency response is led by the Stake President of each LDS Stake (he is called the Area Captain) with support from other Stake leaders and organizing assistance of an Area Emergency Coordinator.
    • The Area Command Center and Area Communications Center is the LDS Stake Center Building. In the event of an emergency, it will be the hub for resource allocation at the Area level and for communications going:
      • To and from Neighborhoods via amateur radio
      • To and from Orem City EOC via amateur radio
      • To and from the LDS Church Area leadership via amateur radio
  • Neighborhoods Areas are sub-divided into Neighborhoods. A Neighborhood is organized around the geographical boundaries of an LDS Church unit called a Ward (there are 200 to 600 people per Ward).
    • Neighborhood emergency response is led by the Ward Bishop of each Ward with the support of other Ward leaders  and the organizing assistance from a Neighborhood Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.
    • The Neighborhood Command Post and Neighborhood Communications Post is located at the LDS Ward Meetinghouse, unless the Area Captain chooses another location. Therefore, some meetinghouses may be host to the emergency response efforts of two to three Neighborhoods.  In the event of an emergency, each Neighborhood Command Post /Communication Center will be a hub  for resource allocation within the Neighborhood and for communications going:
      • Between the Neighborhood Captain and Area Captain via amateur radio.
      • Between the Neighborhood Captain and Block Captains via amateur radio, CB radio and runners.
  • Blocks — Neighborhoods are divided into Blocks. A Block consists of 6 to 12 homes or apartments that are in immediate proximity to each other. This is the level at which initial emergency response is carried out:
    • Block emergency response is led by a Block Captain and Assistant Block Captains who are asked to accept this role by the Neighborhood Captain and/or  Neighborhood Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.
    • A Block Staging Area is a mutually agreed upon location in the Block area, such as a cul de sac, corner lot, or Block Captain's front lawn where uninjured (and ready to help) Block members will initially meet up, communicate and coordinate rescue operations during an emergency.
    • Block Captains are asked to hold Block Socials and Planning/Teaching Meetings at least two times yearly to prepare Block residents to survive emergencies “together”. At these social activities, the following should occur:
      • Block members will socialize and create a bond of caring about each other, and come to know their individual strengths and weaknesses.
      • Block members will internalize the fact that groups survive disasters better than individuals. The Block needs to develop a survive together attitude.
      • The need for runners should be discussed. Always, a pair of runners takes status reports and other communications to the Neighborhood Command Post, so that a Block Captain will not need to leave the Block.
      • Amateur radio should be discussed and encouraged so that, if possible, amateur radio operators can  “radio” communicate to and from the Neighborhood Command Center, instead of utilizing runners.
      • We will always practice both methods of sending runners and utilizing amateur radio.
      • CERT trained block members will “lead out” in life saving efforts in the block first and later in the Neighborhood.
      • Emergency preparedness Survey - Permission sheets for each household should be distributed by the Block Captain to Block members and updated once a year.
      • Block Captain duties should be reviewed so that, if a Block Captain cannot function in an actual emergency, an alternate or the first adult at the Staging Area after an emergency can begin to function as Block Captain, instead.
      • Individual and Family Emergency preparedness should be encouraged.
      • Block members should be encouraged to study these responsibilities at the website.

More About CERT and Amateur Radio

  • it is very desirable to have as many people as possible be CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) trained. Skills learned through this training program will help Orem residents know how to to avoid becoming a victim and how to save as many lives as possible through a safety first attitude, CERT 60 second triage and through understanding how to render life saving medical aid.
    • CERT members are trained and organized through the Orem City staff and leadership, but function primarily within Blocks, Neighborhoods and Areas.
      • CERT trained persons are requested to respond to emergencies first in their own Blocks (going as soon as possible to their Block staging area). Once no needs for CERT members exist in the Block, they report to the Neighborhood Command Post (Ward Building) and function under the leadership of the Neighborhood Leader (Bishop). When no needs exist within the Neighborhood they then can then report to the Area Command Center (Stake Offices) and function at the direction of the Area Leader (Stake President). Once no needs within the Area exist, then and only then are they free to report to the City Emergency Operations Center.
    • CERT training is different than Red Cross training because it is focused on maximum saving of lives with a large number of casualties and no opportunity for professional responders to eventually arrive on the scene. This is a huge difference, because Red Cross training is focused on saving a single person in a situation where professional responders will be arriving within a matter of minutes or at most an hour).
  • Please consider becoming CERT trained. The training is invaluables