HomeCity NewsResident Support Hotline Is a Great Call

Resident Support Hotline Is a Great Call

When the city of San Marino activated the Emergency Operations Center on March 16 and declared a state of emergency a day later due to the local onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a plan that was ready and constantly being evaluated was swiftly put into action.
San Marino’s Resident Support Hotline, available during business hours, was immediately activated within the EOC, a building located in the courtyard behind City Hall that is well-stocked with telephones and other communication equipment. Residents can request assistance, ask questions and get answers via the hotline.
“This disaster is so much different than any that we have previously faced,” said San Marino Fire Chief Mario Rueda, who came up with the idea. “We realized we needed to communicate with our residents.”
Rueda sits on a crisis communications committee that meets every Monday to evaluate communications and is part of the city’s overall pandemic response plan.
“I felt it was important that we have a ‘one stop shop’ for residents, and I was thinking primarily of the many senior citizens who are homebound,” he said. “I felt it would be a nice feature where they would have someone to call.”
And call they do. Usage has fallen slightly since the service was initially put into operation, but operators still field between 30-50 calls per week. Since San Marino’s Recreation Department offerings essentially came to a screeching halt, its workers were repurposed for hotline duty. In addition to fielding calls, they have performed shopping duties, picked up and delivered medications, delivered emergency kits and executed several other chores during the “Safer at Home” mandate.
Some residents have registered with the hotline service and received regular “outreach calls” to assure that community members’ needs are being met.
The range of subject matter varies, and Rueda said that many callers are asking where they can be tested for the coronavirus. Some ask where they can obtain a protective face mask (the city delivers those, too), others call for clarification of the county’s orders and several call to praise the city for keeping Lacy Park open during the pandemic, though a few have questioned that decision.
“More call to thank us for keeping it open than to question it,” Rueda said. “They are glad to have a safe place to go.”
Rueda said the city will follow the lead of the Los Angeles County Department of Health when it comes to lessening or lifting restrictions and encourages residents to maintain social distancing, wear face protection and call the hotline if they have any questions.
“Those are the orders we are under,” said Rueda. “We are guided by the county. A city can impose stricter regulations, but we cannot have regulations that are less strict.”
He feels the call-in service has been a success.
“This has been a very useful service; a very nice feature,” said Rueda, who added that the hotline will remain available “for the foreseeable future.”
The San Marino Resident Support Hotline can be reached at (626) 300-0731. The city of San Marino’s website has additional information regarding the pandemic at cityofsanmarino.org.

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