What can we learn from others' experiences?
What provisions and resources does your local town or City government have in place to assist residents after a major disruption in roads, water-delivery, emergency medical assistance, electrical and gas services?
Certainly, California's Office of Emergency Services and FEMA will be called upon to aid any areas devastated by a catastrophic earthquake but as we have witnesssed in the Haiti earthquake response, timing and access to the areas effected is crucial.
Depending on the severity of the earthquake, local airport runways could be disabled partially or completely. San Francisco International Airport and Moffett Field's runways sit on bay-fill.
How many jumbo-sized cargo planes could fit on the runways at San Jose International Airport for unloading of emergency supplies and rescue teams, if those runways were intact?
The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG)
from ABAG History: "In 1961, elected officials from the region's cities and counties came together to form ABAG-California's first council of governments. Since its inception, ABAG has examined regional issues like housing, transportation, economic development, education, and environment.
In 1970, ABAG broke ground with the Regional Plan, 1970-1990, the Bay Area's first comprehensive regional plan, outlining the first regional open space plan, regional information systems and technology support, criminal justice and training, water policy and waste collection, and earthquake hazards and planning."
We have stronger earthquake building code requirements in California than in most other places in the world. So it is unlikely that we would experience the housing collaspes seen in Haiti to a similar degree. However, no matter how strong the building codes are, impassable broken roadways, ruptured gas and water mains and structure fires will present similar obstacles for rescuers, medical teams and first responders.
Organizing Your Neighborhood
California's OES has produced a brief document containing tips and suggestions for how to organize your neighborhood for first response if emergency services are unable to get to your neighborhood right away after a quake. Know the location of your local Evacuation Center .
What's in the Trunk of your vehicle?
Do you have leather work gloves, a jacket, work shirt, sturdy pants like blue jeans and heavy duty shoes in the trunk of your car? Many folks carry running shoes or workout clothes for the gym in the trunk of their car. That's better than nothing - but if you had to dig through rubble to save a loved one, you might want to be better prepared than that.
Make an Emergency Backpack.
Home: What supplies do you have on hand now?
Look around in your house or garage and see about what you have right now if a major earthquake happened in the next 30 minutes. How well would your family fare through it? Read the full article Small things can make a huge difference
WATER, WATER, WATER
A lot of folks do not realize that the majority of all drinking water supplies serving the Bay Area will be out of commission if the Hayward Fault ruptures the Hetch-Hetchy line through the Diablo Range to the San Mateo terminus. While California's OES and FEMA will be working feverishly to get water back online - it is a safe guess that it will be a while before they succeed.
CERT (Community Emergency Response Team)
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Citizens' Academy program is sponsored through a partnership between Santa Clara City Officials, Fire Department Staff, and Firefighters' Local Union #1171 for the citizens of Santa Clara.
The Santa Clara Community Emergency Response Team program is designed to help the citizens of Santa Clara to be self-sufficient after a major disaster, when the scope of incidents can be overwhelming, and the need for a well-trained civilian work force can be invaluable. A major earthquake in the City of Santa Clara will cause damage to homes, roads, and other structures. Electricity, gas, water and phone service may be interrupted. Local resources will be overwhelmed with hundreds of emergency calls. You can help your family, your neighborhood, your business, and your community to recover by becoming part of or leading a Community Emergency Response Team.
As a community service, firefighters from the City's Fire Department train participants in neighborhoods and workplaces to be part of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Through CERT, organizations and trained volunteers can serve as first responders until professional forces arrive. The motto of CERT is "To do the most good for the most people" in the event of a disaster.
The goals of CERT are:
- To promote household self-sufficiency
- To promote community self-sufficiency; and
- To organize for effective emergency response by coordinating the efforts of paid and volunteer responders.
Since the program began in 1995, hundreds of participants have learned about the City's emergency organization and have received the 20 hour training. The training, which consists of six three hour and twenty minute classes, covers safety, awareness, preparation, utility control and fire suppression, basic medical care, damage assessment, light search and rescue, communications, and CERT team management. A small nominal fee covers the cost of materials. More individuals belonging to schools, churches, businesses, and other community organizations are being assembled to take the CERT training or are being targeted for training in an attempt to have every neighborhood in the City with a functioning civilian disaster emergency response team.
Consider becoming part of the team. To register for CERT training, or for more information on the Santa Clara CERT program, call the Santa Clara Fire Department Training Division at 1-408-615-4940.