RYLAN program is set for February pilot in Windsor Square

| January 27, 2022 | 0 Comments

RYLAN CHECKLIST from readyla.org.

Under the city’s free Ready Your LA Neighborhood (RYLAN) program, 400 homes in Windsor Square this February will be piloting an emergency preparedness plan. RYLAN is an initiative to organize neighborhood resources for the first hour after a disaster and before emergency responders arrive.


The hope is that disaster preparations under RYLAN will look much more like getting to know your neighbors. Windsor Square resident Gary Gilbert, who has been leading the push for RYLAN, said that he selected the program for its relatively simple implementation.

“Hopefully this is like car insurance,” Gilbert said. “Hopefully we’ll never have to use it, but if we do, it would be good to know that we’re prepared, because it’s not that much effort to get ready.”

RYLAN will start in the northwest quadrant of Windsor Square: from Arden to Plymouth boulevards and from Beverly Boulevard to Third Street. For each one of these approximately 20 blocks, a host will step up to facilitate communication among neighbors.

The first step, which will take place in February, is for all interested neighbors to attend a 90-minute workshop which, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be conducted over Zoom. The workshop includes watching an informational video and identifying emergency resources.

The goal for hosts and co-hosts is to organize information for their “pods,” or groups of approximately 20 families who live on their block. The pods become active in the event of an emergency –– for example, cataloging the names and contact information for all household members; determining who has a backyard without power lines that is ideal for a meeting place; and knowing who might be doctors or have health impairments.

Gilbert estimates that the host perhaps will take on three hours of responsibility, which he says is easily worth the time.

“We’re really asking for a few hours of someone’s life that might truly save the lives of themselves or their neighbors,” Gilbert said.

RYLAN can be activated for any disaster. In the “golden hour,” or first hour after the event, the aim is for each pod to be able to support its members independently. In preparation for such an event, however, RYLAN is in effect encouraging neighbors to get to know each other better.

Support from the city, neighborhood associations

RYLAN is offered through the Emergency Management Department (EMD) of the City of Los Angeles. Since RYLAN’s creation in 2017 and implementation in 2018, the city has helped organize about 200 plans. The city does not collect any personal information gathered through RYLAN.

Crisanta Gonzalez, the EMD division chief overseeing planning and community preparedness, who has been working with Gilbert to implement RYLAN in Windsor Square, said that neighbors should consider her department as a “one-stop shop.” Neighborhoods can request free RYLAN resources at readyla.org. They can ask for help in developing a neighborhood map, or ask for a stronger partnership in implementing RYLAN.

“The strength of RYLAN is getting to know your neighbors and working together collaboratively to take care of each other,” Gonzalez said. “We’re just offering you a tool to write it all down and facilitate that.”

Gonzalez will be leading the informational workshops in February. She also gave a presentation via Zoom at the Windsor Square Association’s most recent annual town hall meeting last November.

Gilbert serves on the board of the Windsor Square Association (WSA), which has been supportive of RYLAN. He also is the Windsor Square representative on the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council (GWNC) and the chair of its Resilience Committee that initiated the implementation of the RYLAN program in Greater Wilshire.

GWNC will be creating and distributing a checklist of items that everyone should have to be prepared for emergencies, like extra medication for yourself and your pet, or good shoes that can tread on glass.

Why the NW quadrant of Windsor Square?

RYLAN is typically implemented one block at a time, with Gonzalez or a member of her staff hosting a RYLAN workshop and organizing the neighbors. But this month, Gilbert and Gonzalez are preparing to organize all 20 blocks in the northwest quadrant of Windsor Square at once.

The reason they are hoping for success of this approach is because Windsor Square has a pre-existing network of block captains. Gonzalez said that a common concern with the implementation of RYLAN is the lack of organization within neighborhoods, which is not unusual across such a large city.

Although not all block captains may sign up to host their RYLAN pod, they are involved citizens who are committed to leading communication with their neighbors. Block captains are responsible for keeping up to date with contact information and neighborhood news.

“Half the battle is getting a neighborhood engaged — because sometimes you can have one person who leads the charge, but the other neighbors are not as engaged and not as organized and don’t want to create block captains to help facilitate this,” Gonzalez said. “Windsor Square is already ahead of the curve, just in that aspect alone.” Gonzalez said that the community connections facilitated under RYLAN can also be a strong appeal for the program in a neighborhood like Windsor Square.

“This is a group that wants that civic pride, that wants that neighborly feel, being able to go out and walk your dog and wave and actually know who you’re waving at and who you’re talking to,” Gonzalez said. “I think that’s the strength in piloting with this particular group.”

Windsor Square, which is approximately 1,100 homes, has long been organized by the WSA into four quadrants. Depending on the success of Rylan in the northwest quadrant, Gilbert will plan about its expansion.

“I realized RYLAN would be the perfect thing for Greater Wilshire, which is 50,000 people, but it was a challenging task to try to address 50,000 people,” Gilbert said. “I said we should try to start in a smaller group and I’d like to start using Windsor Square.”

A particular advantage of the northwest quadrant is the commercial blocks on Larchmont Boulevard, which has a Rite Aid pharmacy. Gilbert is in communication with corporate management to see about the possibility of including Rite Aid’s first-aid and food supplies in the neighborhood’s emergency preparedness plan.

28th anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake

In the back of their minds, both Gilbert and Gonzalez are reminded of the 6.8-magnitude Northridge earthquake in 1994, which had its 28th anniversary on Jan. 17. Even though the San Fernando Valley region suffered the most damage, residents of Los Angeles still consider the earthquake a big one.

Gilbert remembers when the earthquake temporarily took out water and power supplies across the city. He walked to Baskin Robbins, then on Larchmont Boulevard, whose ice cream was melting, and he came back with 20 or so pints for his neighbors. With people gathering at his house, he said that they were lucky to be safe, but if there was another large earthquake or terrible disaster, there had to be a plan for when neighbors start gathering outside.

“In the case of a big one, we are going to be together as a group,” Gilbert said. “We should figure out how we’re going to do this.”

Emergency preparedness for all neighborhoods

Although a part of Windsor Square is piloting RYLAN, there are steps that every Los Angeleno should be taking to better prepare for emergencies. Gonzalez said that one important step is signing up for NotifyLA emergency alerts, which warn residents of when local disasters strike.

She said that RYLAN contributes to the overall goal of making emergency preparedness feel like second nature. Determining emergency contacts or storing up extra supplies are examples of preparations that all residents should consider.

“The benefit of RYLAN is that we’re not asking you to be emergency-prepared,” Gonzalez said. “We’re not asking you to be a firefighter. We’re not asking you to be the police. We’re asking you to get to know your neighbors.”

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