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Disaster Preparedness Bootcamp Teaches Residents to Prepare for Disaster

By Pat Kramer

On the weekend of April 12 and 13, 2014, 85 people met at the California National Guard Armory in Van Nuys for a weekend boot camp to learn disaster preparedness skills. The event was held by the Community Development Public Safety Coalition and was led by Los Angeles City Fire Department Captain Stacy Gerlich, the former CERT Commander.

“Community members are the eyes and ears for 1st responders,” said Captain Gerlich. “It starts with preparedness, and then response and recovery. Every community needs to have trained CERT members in place who can act quickly in the event of a sudden disaster because the fact is, the police and emergency crews are going to be overwhelmed and will not be able to save and rescue people until long after a disaster strikes.”

The weekend workshop taught community members basic CPR skills, what supplies to pack in an emergency kit for the car, home and office, and gave an overview of the emergency plans that should be in place in each community so there is order and efficiency to respond to an emergency.

On hand for the event was CERT Commander Captain Keith Scott, CD3-Public Safety Coalition Chief Operations Officer Roozy Moabery and  So CA Gas’s Jim Farley, who demonstrated how to shut off the gas meter in the event of a gas leak. He instructed the class to have a 12” crescent wrench in reach for this purpose but stated that it is not necessary to shut off the gas unless there is a gas leak. Otherwise, residents may have to wait for weeks to get their gas turned back on. Attendees also learned the different types of walkie-talkies that are best to use to stay in touch with others during an emergency, naming Family Radio Service and Motorola two-way radios, as examples.


What to Put in Your Emergency Kit

The Paramedic Section of the Fire Command talked about the disaster pack that everyone should have if they want to survive a major earthquake. This kit should include: a gallon of water, per person, per day (3 – 10 days); non-perishable food (3 days at least); pliers, a wrench and a crowbar; a flashlight with extra batteries (or a hand-powered flashlight); a radio (with extra batteries); clothing – including a sweatshirt or jacket, pants, sturdy shoes or boots, underwear, gloves, a hat, shirt and socks; a 5-gallon bucket with kitty litter, a trash bag and a toilet seat (if possible); $100 – $300 dollars in small bills; a whistle; pencil, permanent markets and paper; medical and first aid supplies; a pocket knife and dust mask; toothbrush & toothpaste; emergency information on each person; a local map; plus books and playing cards or small toys to pass the time.

For those residents with pets, have an emergency carrier or leash, 3-day supply of water (1 gallon per pet, per day); 3-day supply of food in an airtight container; extra medicine that animal requires; plastic bags, litter box, household bleach; pictures of each pet on a flash drive or printed; toys, treats, and bedding to reduce stress.

For both people and pets, rotate the food supply in your emergency kit every 6 months. Water is usually good for up to 5 years. Additionally, store water containers off the floor as toxic chemicals from the concrete can leech into the water.


What to Do in an Earthquake?

Duck, Cover and Hold. “Earthquakes don’t kill us – it’s what we do during an earthquake that will kill us,” stated Captain Gerlich. Always protect your head and neck and get under the closest table and wait until the shaking stops, then put on sturdy shoes before walking around to check for damage.

To set up a plan for your neighborhood, consider signing up for the free service: nextdoor.com which allows neighbors to connect with one another, virtually, from any wi-fi device. To sign up for the June CERT (community emergency response training), call the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council (STNC) office at: (818) 951-7411. For more information, go to: readyla.org/blog or alert/lacounty.gov or fema.gov/areyouready.