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Emergency Preparedness Panel for Businesses Formed

The subcommittee of the Hermosa Beach Emergency Preparedness Advisory Commission will seek to increase safety awareness among businesses. Outreach efforts will replicate those used for residences last month.

A subcommittee to explore emergency preparedness tactics for businesses was formed during  Monday night's Hermosa Beach Emergency Preparedness Advisory Commission (EPAC) meeting at City Hall.

The three-member group of EPAC commissioners hopes to increase emergency awareness for businesses throughout town as EPAC did for Hermosa homes during the Residential Emergency Preparedness Awareness Day on March 20.

"I think it's definitely the next phase," Commissioner Carol Russell said. "So many people were like, 'I'm prepared at home, but now I'm at work. What am I supposed to do?' "

The commissioners noted that although many major corporations have emergency plans, most small businesses do not. Commissioner George Schmeltzer said that past efforts to raise emergency awareness among businesses did not generate a good turnout.

Hermosa Police Chief Greg Savelli recommended forming an incentive program to get businesses to participate because they have more money-oriented priorities than residences.

"Homeowners are looking at protecting themselves and their family; businesses are looking at protecting their revenue streams," Savelli said.

Commissioner Patty Ellis said the Residential Emergency Preparedness Awareness Day was mostly successful. Of the 7,000 informational packets made, 3,600 were delivered. Of those deliveries, 1,500 homeowners were contacted directly.

She thanked the volunteers from neighborhood watch, Beach Cities Health District and El Camino College, but noted results might have been better if more of the promised volunteers showed up.

"We still had a very good turnout," Ellis said. "We were very happy."

Schmeltzer, co-organizer of the event with Ellis, said the highest number of deliveries with homeowner contact were in the neighborhood watch areas.

"Several of (the volunteers) said it was a great opportunity for them to reintroduce themselves to their neighborhood," Schmeltzer said.

EPAC commissioners and other volunteers will deliver the remaining packets  May 1 to residences.   

Commissioner Ken Hartley said about $16,000 is still needed to finish the new emergency operations center. The $70,000 center next to the Hermosa Beach Historical Society Museum on Pier Avenue will serve a variety of public-safety purposes.

Savelli said in his report that police are in their peak planning time for the summer. In response to  Sunday's earthquake aftershocks, he said police received a moderate number of calls.

He reminded the community to use text messaging during emergencies because phone systems may be down.

"It's just a reminder to try both avenues when the earthquake happens," Savelli said.

Ellis inquired whether  Sunday was a missed opportunity to use the city's Code Red emergency messaging system with communitywide notes that the aftershocks had no negative effects.

Hartley, a ham radio user, said Sunday's non-emergency scenario did not call for Code Red. He referred to what can happen in the ham radio world, where "everything is A-OK" messages can overrun the radio waves.

City Manager Steve Burrell suggested using a low-power radio message, not Code Red, for all-clear signs.

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