Emergency preparedness saves lives

Posted: Sunday, January 26, 2003

"The first 24 hours after a disaster you will be on your own."

-- Billy Harris, president, Alaska Fire Chief's Association

It is common knowledge that following a large-scale disaster there is a lag time of about 72-hours. That is three days, before help may arrive.

In some areas it could take even longer.

Shelter, food, water -- are you prepared to survive on your own?

In an effort to bring Alaskans together to share knowledge and exchange resources to achieve a greater sense of security, the Cooperative Extension Service is offering Alaska Peoples Forum, "In Time of Need: Securing Alaskan Lives."

The Kenai Peninsula forum will be held Feb. 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Kenai Peninsula College. This will be a unique and memorable workshop for participants because the format is experiential. This will be a reality check.

This forum is free to the public and lunch will be provided. Preregistration is required by contacting Cooperative Extension Service at 262-5824 or outside the central Kenai Peninsula area at (800) 478-5824.

Alaskans pride themselves for their resourcefulness and rugged independence. The changes in our world today and the threats to our security reinforce the importance of that resourcefulness, but also emphasize the importance of a shared approach to securing Alaska lives.

Cooperative Extension faculty will share information on securing shelter, water and food. There will be an opportunity to interact with Extension Agents on subjects such as food storage and safety, alternative cooking methods, and sources of food available if the store supplies are limited.

The Peoples Forum will include a Share Fair, featuring emergency preparedness material and other pertinent information from local agencies and organizations addressing security issues.

Billy Harris, president of the Alaska Fire Chiefs Association and chair of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Local Emergency Planning Committee, will present an overview about Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT.

CERT is trained citizens who are an extension of first responder services who can offer immediate help to victims until professional services arrive. The CERT course teaches ordinary citizens disaster fire suppression, disaster medical operations and light search and rescue operations.

The LEPC actively is recruiting citizens to be trained as CERT members for neighborhoods, businesses and schools. I am encouraging anyone who might be interested to attend this forum because the first step in helping others is being generally prepared for disasters in advance yourselves.

It's going to be a worthwhile forum and a day well spent. You will be glad you invested time in your own security.

Linda Tannehill is an agent at the Alaska Cooperative Extension Office. She is a home economist and involved in the 4-H/Youth Develop-ment programs. The Kenai Penin-sula District Extension Office is at 43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Suite A, Soldotna, AK. The phone number is 262-5824 or toll-free at (800) 478-5824.

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