In the event of a biological outbreak or attack, the city of Longmont, Colorado, will look to the Boulder County Public Health Department for direction.
While the city has several initiatives that it uses to inform community members of public health emergencies, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) would not be a resource that it would involve in response to a biological attack or outbreak.
“Our CERT organization would not respond in an operational role," Longmont Emergency Manager Peter Perez recently told BioPrepWatch. "The CERT curriculum teaches that for these types of situations CERT members need to get away from the affected area and allow first responders to handle the situation. In a natural disaster Longmont CERT would be used in the Emergency Operations Center and emergency call center, but we as a city would not put volunteers’ safety at risk by sending them into a dangerous or unstable area."
Throughout the year, the city's Office of Emergency Management holds multiple BeReady Longmont informational sessions to educate residents about the differences between National Weather Service watches and warnings, how to sign up to receive emergency notifications from the city, and how the city uses its emergency outdoor warning system. Other topics shared with the public include how to create a communication plan in case family members are separated during a disaster event, how to create a “go kit” or emergency bag to take when they leave, and how to be prepared to sustain themselves for three to five days in the event of a disaster.
The department also uses social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to release information to the public much more quickly than conventional media gets the word out things out, Perez said.
“In addition to the BeReady Longmont campaign, our Community Services department has created about 60 neighborhood groups throughout town and the leaders of that group meet monthly," Perez said. "This group is really about neighbor helping neighbor. They receive the latest updates on ways that the city communicates with its residents, and they routinely request presentations on emergency preparedness from the Office of Emergency Management."