Valley Village Emergency Response Team Keeps Residents Safe and Prepared
On November 9, 2019, Valley Village celebrates 14 years with Caritas. On its anniversary, we would like to highlight this special senior community and its Emergency Response Team.
Valley Village is a senior mobile home community located in Rohnert Park, CA and home to about 415 seniors. Every week, residents and staff plan activities such as line dancing, BINGO, movie night, yoga, and more. Among this active resident life is a unique group called the Valley Village Emergency Response Team.
The only group of its kind in all the Caritas communities, the Valley Village Emergency Response Team (ERT) is responsible for bringing residents together to learn about and promote emergency preparedness. The ERT began in 2007 with a handful of residents and has now grown to 30 volunteers.
Barbara Dahl, a Valley Village resident and ERT since 2015, serves as a Neighborhood Responder and writes monthly articles in the Valley Village Newsletter about topics related to emergency preparedness. She says her favorite part of volunteering with the ERT is “knowing I’m making a difference in my community.”
And what a difference the ERT is making! To help residents be more prepared, ERT volunteers plan emergency preparedness events throughout the year. In April, they hosted an event where they handed out Vial of Life emergency information forms and the local Fire Marshal came to speak about personal preparedness. They also plan an annual Information Fair which focuses on bringing various agencies onsite to speak about services related to emergency preparedness and resources available for seniors.
Furthermore, Valley Village, like all of Rohnert Park, was affected by the 2017 Sonoma County fires. Because of this, the ERT recognized that they needed a second exit for emergency use only, to provide an additional route to safely evacuate the property. Therefore, in 2018, ERT volunteers went to the City to obtain approval for the second exit, and they succeeded!
Within the ERT, there is a subgroup of 6 ERT Neighborhood Responders, who have or are working toward their Ham Radio license. By working with other Ham groups and agencies in the County, they bring another avenue of communication to the community in an emergency.
The Valley Village ERT has not only contributed a lot to preparing the community, but also to the social life at Valley Village. Volunteers plan community events such as participating in the Community Yard Sale and host a Chili Cook-Off, with all proceeds going towards purchasing emergency and disaster supplies for use by Neighborhood Responders to support the community.
The Valley Village Emergency Response Team was, is, and will always be an important part of life at Valley Village. Here at Caritas, we are so grateful for having a group of volunteers like this dedicated to protecting and preparing their community.
Special thanks to Barbara Dahl for the interview and to all the ERT volunteers: Charles Robinett, Howard (Sunny) Powell, Carol Smyth, Evelyn Hardesty, Joyce Kinzel, Paula Molnar, Irene Souki, Janet Hinkel, Barbara Dahl, Daryl Alley, Albert (Al) Hopper, Jeannette Peters, Neva Fleckenstein, Carl Jaeger.