They trained for an emergency — but didn't expect this one | May 1, 2020 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 1, 2020

They trained for an emergency — but didn't expect this one

Rather than bandages and first aid, neighborhood volunteers are using social skills to respond to the coronavirus

by Jocelyn Dong

Ever since late March, just after the city of Palo Alto declared a state of emergency because of the coronavirus pandemic, Emily Risberg has followed a certain routine.

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Editor Jocelyn Dong can be emailed at


Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on May 1, 2020 at 10:30 am

Before the CERTS there were the PANDAS to which I belonged. They were similar, but not identical. Thus, the program has been in place since about the early 2000s.

Posted by Amazing Volunteers
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 1, 2020 at 11:19 am

Both Emily and Carl have been amazing Emergency Service Volunteers. I work closely with Emily and she has been doing a phenomenal job as our Neighborhood Preparedness Coordinator. When there is an emergency, neighbors helping neighbors makes us a more resilient community. The first step is getting to know your neighbors better and becoming more connected to your neighborhood and local community. A subsequent step you can take is to join the Emergency Service Volunteers as a Block Preparedness Coordinator: Web Link

Posted by Mark M
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 1, 2020 at 11:36 am

What a great group of Volunteers ! Thank you for your service!
Anyone can help! I’ve been doing it now for over 15 years. The people are great, it’s about being a part of your community!
Cheers to all first responders!!

Posted by Greenmeadow ESVs.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 1, 2020 at 12:02 pm

Thanks to Karen Pauls and Sam Kempton for organizing ESVs and CERTs in Greenmeadow. I'm a Greenmeadow ESV and have been reaching out to neighbors who live alone by phone. So far, they don't need much, but some of them just need to talk. Some are worried about who will take care of their pets if they get sick and hospitalized or they need someone to run an errand for them.

These are easy things to do, and it feels really good to help out neighbors.

Thanks to all of the good folks who volunteer to help. It is rewarding to be part of this team!

Posted by Engineer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 1, 2020 at 3:59 pm

I'm really concerned that this pandemic will leave us vulnerable to other hazards. I wish PANDAS would help raise funds/fund some non-toxic fire-retardant gels that homehowners can hook up to hoses and spray down their houses with in an emergency like a fire in los altos hills, to keep our neighborhoods safe. There is a kind of herd immunity with fire suppression, too. The last thing we need to be dealing with in the middle of a infectious disease pandemic is another disaster that could be prevented.

Posted by Jane K.
a resident of Green Acres
on May 4, 2020 at 1:31 am

It is extremely important to keep together and stay together right now. We need to support each other, trust each other as we are working for the greater good. First respondents and volunteers are HEROES.
We are ALL in this TOGETHER. We should stay strong! I can't help much but at least I can work on takeaway meals for those in need.

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