In this week's Around Town column, find out how Palo Alto fire has prepared for an active shooter situation, Paly grad and NBA star Jeremy Lin's new hairstyle and proposed new speed limits.
PREPARING FOR THE WORST ... Palo Alto fire Capt. Chuck Berry finds it unbelievable that first responders in Las Vegas responding to last Sunday's mass shooting at a country music festival were able to triage hundreds of patients in a chaotic situation. "They were able to manage that number of patients in what appeared to be an expedient manner," the former National Guard officer said. The Fire Department hopes it never has to apply its active shooter training into a real-life situation, but is prepared to take action should such an event happen in the city or Santa Clara County. The agency recently finished its six-month active shooter training under a policy adopted by the county that former police chief Dennis Burns helped the county complete before his retirement late last year. "We need an entire county trained and organized so we can come to aid one another in an expedited, organized manner," Berry said. Responders learned how to provide expedient emergency casualty care with the use of tourniquets and other specialty bandaging to help stop the injured from bleeding as they're evacuated from the scene. Firefighters underwent eight hours of instruction in the classroom and during small drills. The department is also equipped with new protective equipment including ballistic helmets and vests and a specialized trauma pack stored on fire engines all purchased under a county grant. A main focus of the instruction was developing a rescue task force in which law enforcement officers escort emergency personnel to the scene of a shooting where the gunman is no longer present to start treating those who were targeted. The countywide training and policy was developed last year and rolled out throughout all the fire agencies. The department plans to hold active shooter training sessions annually and hopes to update its procedure based on what the Las Vegas first responders learned, Berry said. "Something we haven't addressed enough is the PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in something like this and I'm sure it's something we'll address down the road," said Berry, who was a member of the county’s development team responsible for training representatives from fire agencies in the county. The department is in the process of adopting the county policy under an internal process it hopes to wrap up by the month's end, fire Deputy Chief Catherine Capriles. "It's one of those programs you hope you train and train and train and never use," she said.
HAIR FOR THOUGHT ... Palo Alto High School graduate and Brooklyn Nets point guard Jeremy Lin penned an article published Tuesday on The Players' Tribune to address a noticeable change many people have probably been wondering about — his hair. The 6-foot-3-inch basketball star who's been growing out his hair now has dreads, a process that made him feel more like himself. "I was really unsure about getting dreads because I was worried I'd be appropriating black culture," Lin wrote. The 29-year-old decided to go ahead with the new hairstyle with fellow teammate Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who also got dreads. "I'm really grateful to my teammates and friends for being willing to help me talk through such a difficult subject," he said. Lin also spoke to how "Linsanity" praised a minority becoming successful, but said many people don't take the time to discuss complex challenges such as racial discrimination and police brutality.
THE NEED FOR SPEED ... As any Palo Alto commuter can testify, speed limit signs have a limited effect on drivers. Middlefield Road residents in Crescent Park have long clamored for "traffic calming" measures that would slow down commuters whizzing down their block, while those along the Charleston/Arastradero corridor have been equally vociferous in planning to address recent road redesigns that have created traffic jams near El Camino Real during peak hours. But while most of the city's efforts have focused on slowing down drivers, two local roadways may soon see an increase in the speed limit. The City Council is preparing to consider on Oct. 16 a proposal to raise the speed limit at portions of East Bayshore and Deer Creek roads from 35 to 40 mph. The increase would make both of these roadways eligible for radar enforcement, as per state law. To date, the idea of raising speed limits to make them more enforceable has been a hard sell. Last year, residents and council members overwhelmingly rejected raising speed limits and opted to set "target speeds" at various road segments, with the idea that traffic engineers would add design elements to help achieve these speeds. Staff is making an exception for East Bayshore and Deer Creek, which traffic engineers have classified as "collectors," roads that connect local streets to regional "arterials." A report from city planners notes that each has relatively light traffic and few driveways and cross streets. The report also notes "that most motorists will travel at a speed at which they feel comfortable" and will not follow a posted speed limit that is "set unrealistically low or high." In addition, the city plans to reduce speeds within 500 feet of schools from 25 mph to 20 mph.