In Time of Need; Securing lives -- so now what do we do?

Posted: Sunday, March 16, 2003

For the 50 of you who attended our In Time of Need forum, you know we had a great time. Really, who would have thought learning about emergency preparedness could be so fun?

The forum is over, so now what? Well, now we get to work applying what we learned. You may have heard the saying that goes something like, "the teacher learns the most." I honestly believe this to be true, and what I learned from this forum will make me better prepared.

I've been inspired to get a good start on preparedness by being involved with the Local Emer-gency Planning Committee (LEPC) in public education for the past nine years.

I have my family plan in place, which includes my outside contacts. I have all the provisions necessary to shelter-in-place. My evacuation kits are stocked for my cat, dogs and myself. We even practice evacuating from time to time. You can imagine the dogs love to go. My kitty is a little less eager for the drill, but she's learned to tolerate it.

However, being an educator, I know there is always much more to learn and ways to improve. Keep in mind Cooperative Extension conducted four of these forums over the course of two months. They were held in Juneau, Fairbanks, Soldotna and the final one was in Anchorage this past weekend. After hearing the presenters lecture four times, I was having dreams about preparedness.

In Extension work, we measure impacts of programs by changes in people. There are three changes I am going to make because of what I've learned from these forums. The first one is to buy a cellphone. I have been a holdout for many reasons when it comes to buying one. Small incidences that have happened over the course of the past two months have opened my eyes to the fact that I need a cell phone for safety.

For me, safety outweighs all the other reasons not to buy one.

My second plan for action is to take a CPR and first-aid class in April. Check with the local American Red Cross for upcoming classes. Community Schools may be offering some, as well. In the American Red Cross brochure related to terrorism, they recommend in addition to general preparedness, learning basic first aid. This advanced preparation will give me the skills to tend to my own needs, as well as potentially assisting others.

The third action item is to work toward getting CERT in my neighborhood. Billy Harris, president of Alaska Fire Chiefs Association and chair of the Kenai Peninsula Borough LEPC, presented an overview of Community Emer-gency Response Team at our forum.

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 (like myself) disaster fire suppression, disaster medical operations and light search and rescue operations.

Well, that's my to-do list for the next few months. Is emergency preparedness on your to-do list?

Linda Tannehill is an agent at the Alaska Cooperative Extension Office. She is a home economist and involved in the 4-H/Youth Development programs. The Kenai Peninsula 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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