Friday, August 24, 2007
Neighborhood Networks to provide safety net
On August 14, Jeff Brem, chair of the Board of Health (BOH), and Mary Kate Martelon, summer intern, presented the Selectmen with a plan for organizing Neighborhood Networks throughout Carlisle. The goal is to have a point person for each neighborhood who would be the contact in case of a medical or other emergency. That person would also assume responsibility for inventorying local supplies and equipment and for keeping track of neighbors with Carlisle Medical Reserve Corps training and anyone who might require special assistance. "We want to be able to easily access a lot of people quickly," said Brem.
He noted that all sharing of information and resources would be voluntary, and no one would be required to join the Network. The neighborhood contact would be a volunteer with a designated alternate. Martelon distributed a form which gives examples of the types of information the contact would be expected to gather. It includes names, addresses and e-mails. It inventories the presence of medical resources and equipment residents would be willing to share in an emergency, including generators, chain saws, snowblowers, snowmobiles, boats, etc. Finally, it notes residents who are immobile or might otherwise require special attention.
In an epidemic, as much as six months quarantine might be required before a vaccine could be developed and distributed, according to Brem. Other emergencies might include storms, flooding, or power outages. Selectman Doug Stevenson noted that the Carlisle Local Emergency Plan envisions neighborly support could be critical in the hours or days before state or federal emergency resources could be marshaled in a catastrophe that covered a large area, such as a tornado or snow storm.
The network could also be a resource for information dissemination, including road work, power outages, and local criminal activity, and for health and safety education. Martelon said that in communities such as Concord and Acton, networks have been launched with neighborhood get-togethers, and a secondary goal of the network might be to encourage neighborliness and sociability.
Stevenson said "the concept is great" but worried citizens would be concerned about sharing private information. Brem responded that information would be kept by a trusted neighbor, not in a database or central file. The list of neighborhood contacts would be kept by the BOH and possibly the police dispatcher.
Concord has networks in place
A similar plan works well in Concord, which currently has 300 organized neighborhoods. "I agree there will be some concerns, but [those with concerns] don't have to participate."
The BOH is collecting a list of citizens interested in becoming neighborhood contacts and asks those interested to contact the BOH at 1-978-369-0283.
© 2007 The