Are you prepared for a disaster?

March 14, 2011


Japan’s devastating earthquake and resulting tsunami makes one wonder if an event like this could happen here on the Central Coast.

The 2003 San Simeon earthquake, a much smaller 6.5 magnitude Richter scale event, caused significant damage and the loss of two lives. The Loma Prieta and Northridge earthquakes, to the north and south of us, are in our recent earthquake history. Together they took more than 130 lives and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

But not one of these was the “BIG ONE.” Experts predict a 60 percent probability of a major earthquake occurring within the next 20 years on the San Andreas Fault, which runs through San Luis Obispo County.

Earthquakes are not our only worry; San Luis Obispo County has had its share of major wild fires, hazardous materials spills, transportation accidents and winter storms–all of which can have severe impacts on all our communities.

When the “BIG ONE” hits, emergency services will be overwhelmed. Since it’s simply a supply and demand issue, the reality is that it may be up to 72 hours before help can arrive.

Can you survive? The answer is YES…you can, if you are prepared. The key to surviving any disaster is planning ahead of time.

Be Prepared! The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program offers training in preparedness and team response. You will learn basic skills most commonly used in disasters. These skills can be used in your neighborhood, on campus, or at your place of work.

The program is sponsored by the San Luis Obispo County Fire Chiefs Association and the Sheriff’s Advisory Council.

Goals of CERT:
•       To prepare your family and home to survive all types of disasters.
•       To protect yourself first so that you will be able to help others.
•       To assist family and neighbors during the time of a disaster.
•       To work, if you so desire, as part of an emergency response team in the community.

The CERT training program is a 20-hour course, consisting of five evening classes and covers:
•       Earthquake/Disaster Awareness
•       Preparation/Emergency Supplies
•       Hazard Awareness/Mitigation
•       Disaster Medicine
•       Disaster Psychology
•       Light Search and Rescue Techniques

As you can see, the information that you will learn in this training course is really great stuff. We all “intend” to do this “one day,” but how many of us actually do? Maybe it’s time for you to prepare you and your family for all types of disaster situations.

Two classes are currently scheduled: one in the South County beginning April 4, and one in Estero Bay (Los Osos, Morro Bay, and Cayucos) beginning May 2. Everyone is welcome to attend; you do not need to be a resident of these areas.

For more information on these classes call the Five Cities Fire Authority at (805) 473-5495, or for the Estero Bay class contact Cal Fire/ South Bay Fire Station # 15 at (805) 528-1053.

Bob Neumann is a retired San Luis Obispo Fire Chief.

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Two classes in the south County? It clearly says ONE in south county and one on the coast (mid county)! But I agree with the stated concerns anyway-CCN, find out and report the cost to cut down on all the calls. And maybe someone in the fire dept will set these up in ALL parts of our county, as BTDT says, time and gas are not insignificant outlays these days.

What is the cost for these classes? With the economy as it is and people having to watch every penny, many might be unable to pony up the dough. I didn’t see where the classes are free…

Sounds great but I see that both are in the south county. Any chance of anything in the North County for us hicks up here? I don’t mind traveling for one or two but over five nights, time and gas get harder to schedule. (extra time for drive)

Really, why two classes in the South County and nothing in the north County?