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Over the next few days, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department will be conducting a door-to-door survey in Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy. 

The goal of the survey is to improve the county’s understanding of the community’s thoughts and knowledge on climate change, extreme weather events and emergency preparedness, according to county officials. The public health department will use data gathered from the survey to improve the county’s efforts to reach and prepare the community on these topics. 

“This will inform any outreach strategies that have the greatest impact to connect individuals to resources, and hopefully inform the way we respond in the event of emergencies,” said Angelica Diaz, County Public Health Director for the Healthy Communities Branch. 

The surveyors will be knocking on a random selection of residential doors in South County from 8am-5pm, April 24-26. Surveyors will be wearing identifying badges and vests, as well as bright orange attire, according to the county. 

Surveyors include public health workers from the county, California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They will not ask participants for any personal information such as name or date of birth, nor will they request any form of identification. Information collected through the survey is protected, and is not connected to any individual or household when reported back to the community

“We’re not trying to be intrusive here but it’s very important to collect the data to ensure the safety and well being for our community,” Diaz said. 

Residents whose homes are selected are encouraged to consider answering the survey as their responses will help the county better understand crucial community needs, county officials added. Participants are not being compensated for their involvement in the survey. 

The survey is known as a Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) and was developed by the CDC. A total of 210 households will be selected to randomly participate. 

“The Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) is an epidemiologic technique designed to provide public health leaders and emergency managers with household-based information about a community,” says the CDC website. “It is quick, reliable, relatively inexpensive, and flexible.”

The CASPER survey is designed to use a valid sampling methodology to collect information at the household level, and can be used for emergency or non-emergency data collection purposes. 

“The information generated can be used to initiate public health action, identify information gaps; facilitate disaster planning, response, and recovery activities; allocate resources, and assess new or changing needs in the community,” the CDC site continues. “It is a cross-sectional epidemiologic design; it is not surveillance.”

More information about the CASPER methodology can be found on the CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/casper/default.htm

The survey will be conducted in English, Spanish or the residents’ preferred language, according to the county. 

Diaz added that the public health department survey is focusing on South County because it is an area of Santa Clara County where residents are disproportionately impacted by extreme heat, poor air quality and emergency preparedness due to a lack of resources. 

The results of the survey will help the county inform future emergency response and other public health actions, including educational efforts, communication and reducing barriers to resources, according to the county. The final survey report will be shared with the community. 

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

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