Numerous members of the Goleta Community Emergency Response Team have taken on a new role to help businesses reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Volunteers trained to prepare and respond to emergencies are now Goleta Business Ambassadors, going from business to business and giving them advice on how to safely reopen complying with COVID-19 guidance.
They joined the Santa Barbara County RISE Ambassador Program to make it all happen, and they’ve successfully served more than 100 businesses, not to mention repeated check-ins.
Michael Baris is Goleta’s emergency services coordinator, and he sends three teams out around the city to provide guidance.
“They’re helping by being someone to double check their business’s work, making sure that all those small details are well-handled by all the businesses,” Mr. Baris told the News-Press. “Whether it’s six feet between chairs and tables, whether it’s tape on the floor or it’s making sure face coverings are worn, it’s just all the odds and ends.”
He said the ambassadors provide educational and suggestive help, rather than enforcement.
“We understand that our businesses are doing their best out here,” he said. “It’s not their area of expertise, which makes sense. No one has gone through this before, so we’re just there to give a little extra insight.”
The volunteers have received a lot of positive feedback, according to Mr. Baris, and they’ve provided a familiar face for the businesses navigating this difficult time.
“We keep track of our notes and try to see how people have progressed. Over 90% of the time, the managers and owners are happy for the advice and didn’t know something about a specific topic,” he said. “It’s all those tiny details that are so hard to memorize nowadays.”
More than 300 volunteers have graduated from CERT, and ambassadors fluctuate and come in and out, but there are always three teams ready to offer their help.
“It’s great to be part of a countywide effort to put everyone in as good of a place as possible,” Mr. Baris concluded.
For more information on the Goleta CERT program, visit tinyurl.com/goletacert.