Partnership To Empower & Prepare Spanish-Speakers in the Region for Emergencies & Disasters

Partnership To Empower & Prepare Spanish-Speakers in the Region for Emergencies & Disasters

San Diego County CERT & Alertar y Preparar LISTOS are partnering to provide critical disaster preparedness training to Spanish-speaking residents at no cost with SDG&E support

When it comes to disasters, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. That’s why over the last decade, SDG&E has invested in countless programs, new technologies and enhanced services to harden our infrastructure, improve forecasting, prepare communities and ensure residents remain resilient as wildfire threats only increase with climate change.

This work, however, is part of a larger collective regional effort. San Diego County is incredibly diverse: Home to one of the busiest land border crossings in the world with Baja California, México, it is made up of more than 3.2 million residents from various cultures, backgrounds and walks of life – 34% of which are Hispanic and Latino, including a significant number of which who speak Spanish at home[1]. Simply put, building resiliency cannot be accomplished alone nor with a one size fits all approach. Grassroots preparedness efforts carried out by trusted partners like CERT and Alertar y Preparar LISTOS are a prime example of this and how delivering customized, culturally appropriate, training helps better prepare our diverse region to face whatever emergencies or disasters arise in the future.

With support from SDG&E, San Diego County Fire’s Community Emergency Response Team will host its first LISTOS training entirely in Spanish in the region. LISTOS, which translates to “we’re prepared” in Spanish, is the name of a grassroots disaster preparedness program tailored to meet the needs of Spanish-speaking communities.

The free course, open to all interested residents and their families, will take place from 9am-2pm on Saturday, October 15, at the Potrero Library (located at 24883 Potrero Valley Rd, Potrero, CA 91963). Through the training, attendees will learn vital skills and tools to help them prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and disasters, including First Aid and compression CPR. Attendees will also learn leadership skills to empower them to hold their own trainings within their homes and communities. Each person or family in attendance will also receive a first aid kit, donated by SDG&E, and an emergency radio to help them get started.

“CERT is all about neighbors helping neighbors” said Teresa Greenhalgh, San Diego County Fire’s CERT Coordinator. “Working together with partners such as LISTOS and SDG&E, we’ve been able to continue our mission to deliver vital First Aid, emergency response and life-saving skills training to residents of all ages and foster a culture of preparedness for years to come.” Greenhalgh, who recently received a proclamation alongside the CERT team for this year’s National Preparedness Month from the Board of Supervisors, currently manages San Diego County Fire’s CERT, which serves the county’s unincorporated area. Made up of volunteers, her team has been recognized at the state and national level for their preparedness and response efforts, including several deployments in recent years to provide critical assistance after large wildfires (e.g., distributing supplies, wellness checks, working with the American Red Cross at shelter and temporary evacuation points, and disaster recovery operations) and more recently, to assist during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Alertar y Preparar LISTOS program is managed by Liliana Encinas, Director of the program at the California Fire Services Training Institute (FSTI). The Alertar y Preparar LISTOS program began in 2009 in Santa Barbara and has expanded to more than 20 County’s over the past several years thanks to public and private partnerships, including state support to prepare and empower Spanish-speakers, and Hispanic and Latino communities to be ready for any emergency they may face.

Liliana has been working closely with Teresa, the County’s Office of Emergency Services and County Libraries to bring and promote holistic emergency preparedness trainings, like the upcoming Train-the-Trainer course in Potrero, to the southern region. “LISTOS is designed to foster community collaboration, connection and promote leadership amongst multicultural communities who can then conduct preparedness classes for their neighbors,” said Encinas. “We are excited to sponsor this first-ever LISTOS training in Spanish to grow the number of Spanish-speaking LISTOS instructors in San Diego County and prepare even more members of the Hispanic and Latino community for any emergencies they could face.”

In addition to the training in Potrero, SDG&E is supporting two additional local LISTOS trainings hosted by San Diego County Fire CERT next year (A four-hour virtual Basic training in January 2023 and a three-day in person Train-the-Trainer course in late March 2023). “Wildfire season is year-round in California and preparedness is a whole community effort” said Thom Porter, Director of SDG&E’s Emergency Management Department. “It’s our honor to support partners like County CERT and LISTOS who are a prime example of the power of community in preparedness”

Residents interested in attending the all-Spanish course in Potrero or next year’s trainings can contact Teresa Greenhalgh directly at to sign up. To learn more about Alertar y Preparar LISTOS training program, visit For more wildfire safety and preparedness tips, visit

[1] U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: San Diego County, California; California