It’s Disaster Preparedness Month -- are you ready?

Ann Cousineau

It’s Disaster Preparedness Month -- are you ready?September is National Disaster Preparedness Month and of local organizations are among millions of volunteer groups from coast-to-coast that are reaching out to help people plan for emergencies.

“We want to help empower people to be prepared for disasters of all kinds. The more people that are prepared, the better it will be for everyone,” said Kathy Uetz, coordinator for the Indian Wells Valley Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). “We want to see folks be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem.” Last month, 11 local residents attended a three-day, CERT training weekend. Another CERT training session is planned for October.

CERT is a training program that prepares people to help themselves, their family, and their neighbors in the event of a disaster. During an incident, emergency services personnel may not be able to reach everyone right away. By getting trained emergency preparedness and rescue training, people will have the skills to help emergency responders save lives and protect property.

“People do not have to sign up to be on our team to get disaster preparedness training,” Uetz said. “Basic CERT training includes how to identify and anticipate hazards; reduce fire hazards in the home and workplace; extinguish small fires; assist emergency responders; conduct light search and rescue; set up medical treatment areas; apply basic medical techniques; and more.”

Local CERT volunteers are among other local organizations participating in the 2012 California ShakeOut, an earthquake drill designed to help people in homes, schools, and organizations practice how to be safe during big earthquakes. It also provides an opportunity for everyone to improve their overall preparedness. Last year’s Great California ShakeOut involved more than 8.6 million Californians. The drill is now held statewide annually on the third Thursday of October, and is organized by the Earthquake Country Alliance. The 2012 Great California ShakeOut will be at 10:18 a.m. on October 18.

IWV CERT operates under the umbrella of the Ridgecrest Police Department and the city of Ridgecrest. The team also reports to Kern County Office of Emergency Services. For more information, call 760-499-5100 or check out the IWV CERT website at www.iwvcert.org.

Story First Published: 2012-09-19