Communities of Oakland Respond to Emergencies - Oakland, California

Oakland, California’s Communities of Oakland Respond to Emergencies (CORE) program is a free educational and training program offered by the Oakland Fire Department that promotes the creation of emergency preparedness in the face of a disaster event. Offered mainly to individuals, neighborhood groups, and community-based organizations, CORE training focuses on teaching its students how to become more self-sufficient during emergency events for a period of up to 10 days following a disaster. Outreach to attract participants has focused on reaching lower-income communities, multilingual individuals, disabled residents, and other groups or people with access and functional needs. The overall purpose of the CORE program is not only to improve access to disaster response training, materials, and services, but also to reduce risks associated with current and future climate events. Since its founding, CORE has reached over 20,000 people throughout the Oakland community.

The underlying theory behind the creation of the CORE program is that, should a disaster hit, typical first responders such as police and firefighters will be so overwhelmed that some citizens and communities will be left on their own without much help from these resources for the first seven to ten days. To mitigate damage to the community that this lack of first responders may cause, CORE works to teach community groups and individuals “how to become more self-sufficient in emergency and disaster situations.”

CORE training is divided into three distinct training units, which are taught by civilian volunteers and firefighters. Each unit incorporates hands-on learning that help CORE participants learn how to complete specific disaster mitigation and preparedness actions, such as fire suppression techniques, disaster first aid response, implementing neighborhood emergency communication, and more. The first CORE unit, for example, includes four training topics including how to: 

  1. Make a Family Disaster Plan
  2. Minimize Hazards Around Your Home
  3. Have Emergency Supplies
  4. Learn What To Do During and After a Disaster

The CORE Advisory Task Force, which creates the material for these units, is made up of community leaders and CORE graduates, and constantly encourages input and feedback from the communities the program is designed to aid.

As a whole, one of the main premises behind CORE highlight the fact that “solving peoples’ problems and improving their lives requires the active participation of those most affected by the problems.” To encourage this active participation, CORE manuals and training programs have been translated into a variety of different languages, so that its lessons in community self-sufficiency can be used by all those communities “most affected by a disaster [to] be prepared, involved, trained and organized in times of emergency.” When applicable, community-specific training is offered to adapt CORE principles to the needs of the elderly or disabled. CORE training also encourages the creation of neighborhood groups of CORE volunteers who are familiar with their community, and are often designated as leaders in the case of an emergency. The creation of these groups has historically helped reduce triage time, as well as ensured that the resources available during disaster events are distributed to the greatest number of those most affected. 


Publication Date: July 29, 2020

Related Organizations:

  • Oakland, California Fire Department

Related Toolkits:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Case study
  • Education/training materials
  • Engagement

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