Santa Cruz County Emergency Management Director Ray Sayre demonstrated the Simtable, a disaster simulation tool for the Patagonia Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) at the team’s monthly meeting held March 6 in the Patagonia Town Council chambers.

Sayre noted that only about 15 of these devices are currently in use in the U.S.. The system consists of a sandbox-like rectangular table containing crushed walnut shells that can be sculpted to resemble a specific geographic area. 

Using Google Maps, a projector mounted overhead projects the chosen geographic area onto the landscape. The operator then is able to introduce a variety of weather conditions and intervention resources to show how the disaster would progress or be mitigated. 

On this occasion, Sayre demonstrated the features of the model using Patagonia as the test site for different scenarios involving fire, flood or a hazardous materials spill. The model, which was procured with grant funds, can be used as a teaching tool or to guide intervention in a real life emergency.

The CERT team is seeking additional volunteers to undergo the required basic training which usually takes place over two weekends. Interested individuals are invited to sit in on the team’s monthly meetings to learn more about the duties of the team and to take advantage of the informal training the team builds into each meeting. 

The team meets on the first Wednesday of the month at 1:00 p.m. The current team leader is Marilyn Miller. She can be reached at 520-394-0184 or