A Personal Story About Emergency Preparedness & Real Deal Tips

I had an emergency at my home last Sunday and share this as a reminder to neighbors, friends and family, about the importance of taking quick actions in emergencies and getting to 911 services fast. I also want to acknowledge my neighbor’s & family's ‘leaning in’ and coming to my aid, which I believe contributed to an overall good ending.  This could happen to anyone, thus I thought it might be helpful to share what happen and some tips to be better prepared.

How prepared would you be, if a sudden emergency occurred right in front of you?

What happened:
A dear friend came by late afternoon for a visit. She suddenly collapsed in my back yard (twice within a few minutes), I called 911 and she was transported to Kaiser emergency and is fortunately doing well and back home. That’s the short of it.

Frankly, I was pretty shaken as it was all happening, but had to snap into action because as I learned in emergency training, every second, I mean “second” matters, especially seeing my friend lying there on the ground.

She’d only been here for a few minutes; we were out back clipping roses/chatting and she passed out! It was surreal and I screamed her name as I got down next to her and felt for a pulse. I couldn’t get one, although she was breathing. I grabbed my cell and called 911. It went to a recording! I grabbed my nearby land line, got a short recording and then a dispatcher. My friend came around again and was trying to sit up. I had her stay in place. The dispatcher quickly helped me and gave instructions. My friend blacked out again. OFD came through the door within a few minutes and administered first aid ~ a welcome sight!

OFD’s High St. #17 firefighters, who are real heroes, did all the medical checks; my friend had very low blood pressure and other indications, so they recommended the EMT take her to Kaiser hospital. I followed behind and other family members arrived.

Looking back, it was a real challenge as I worked hard to balance helping my friend, keeping calm, with getting her the needed help quickly. I am happy that things turned out well for her, pleased about most of the steps I took, but might have done a few things differently.  


  • My friend is safe and well.
  • I took immediate actions, checking her pulse. (breathing was ok, kept her comfortable)
  • Called 911 within minutes, using land line to get help fast. (assessed situation, did dispatcher's suggestions)
  • Unlocked front door so OFD could enter house.
  • OFD arrived in minutes. EMT as well.
  • My son, although not nearby, happened to call by chance, offered to help and coached me to stay calm.
  • 3 neighbors took immediate action and showed up! either came to help us or called another neighbor to help. I am so grateful, as I was so busy scurrying around, and I needed each of them!

The “Oops”:

  • Didn’t have both phones out back with me ‘in case of emergency’. (I usually have cell in my fanny pack, when going in back. This day, they were nearby, but indoors)
  • Didn’t remember what the ‘cell phone’ emergency number was. (it was in my iPhone listings, but forgot I had it)
  • Didn’t call a close by neighbor. (was so busy, no time to do that).

Tips for us all:
Calling for Emergency services (911):

From cell phone: Call 510.777.3211 Program it in your cell phone. (Note: if you call 911 from a cell, you’ll get a recording that then goes to CHP, then redirects to OPD dispatch).

From land line: Call 911, (works fast & goes directly to OPD), may still get short recording.

Neighbor’s phone numbers:
Add/update your neighbor’s phone numbers
 to your cell phone for emergencies.

Updated neighbor’s list: This week, I will update and send (to my block members), their “all neighbor phone list” (we’ve added several new neighbors). Use that info to update your closest neighbor’s telephone numbers.

Other Block Captains, please update your own block’s phone list and redistribute – Or ask another neighbor who is able, to take on that task, and update your section’s contact information. It can really make a difference, when minutes count!

How Neighbor’s leaned in and took action! Here’s what you can do if you see OFD out front!

  • Neighbors saw that the firetruck was in front of my home and made calls to others that “Pat may be in trouble”. I was glad that neighbors came to my home asking: “is everything ok, do you need any help?”
  • Word got around and one neighbor came to see if I needed help.
  • Second, third neighbor came to help.
  • Collectively, each neighbor helped me, or friend in some way. All because they did something – “leaned in” as they say! 
    (I was out back with OFD and needed a few things before following friend to hospital: ( they reminded me to stay calm (yep, I needed direction!) and rode with me to hospital, etc.)

Wrap Up Tips again if you're the lead:

  • Commit and take action right away if an emergency occurs!
  • Keep calm and take the needed actions fast – seconds matter! 
  • Keep your cell phone close when going out back/front. One never knows!
  • Program the “cell phone” emergency number in phone: 510.777.3211 ~ or Call 911, if you have a land line.
  • Know where your land line is (if applicable), as back up.
  • Call a neighbor after you reach 911, as back up, friendly familiar face or a hug.
  • Program several neighbor’s numbers in your phone.
  • Take CERT training to learn about the techniques, actions.

Thank You!

Again, I’m very thankful and proud of my block’s/family's various actions, some unknown to me at first; their getting the word out to come and help me, which I REALLY needed. I know each block would do the same!  As many of you know, I went through the City’s CORE (2017) and the CERT (2021) emergency preparedness training certification (in fact, we have 11 other fully CORE certified neighbors on Allendale!). That training really came in handy. I learned many lessons, will improve where needed and hope this helps you. Photo is at the 2021 CERT final training and graduation.

Any questions, please email me (pmacp@aol.com). For CERT info, ask me/others and here’s their site: https://www.oaklandca.gov/topics/oaklandcert
Let’s keep ourselves safe and prepared!!

Thank you, Pat Patterson,
Neighbor & Allendale Avenue Neighbor's Network
Block Chair & Captain (Block 3)