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City News:

CERT training teaches important lessons

November 18, 2007|By Laura C. Curran

Katie Eing, Newport Beach’s emergency services coordinator, stepped to the front and said, “In the event of the big earthquake, be prepared to take care of yourself for up to three days.”

If I had any doubt that it would be worthwhile to spend four Saturdays in training, she and Matt Brisbois, Community Emergency Response Team coordinator and veteran lifeguard, dispelled them right up front with a clear overview of Newport Beach geography and disaster scenarios.

So here are some of the top lessons I learned from CERT training:

 The real estate mantra “location, location, location,” is true. In the event of an earthquake (highly likely), a tsunami (much less likely) or other disaster, where you live or work makes a difference. In a tsunami, the police would direct peninsula residents and beachgoers to head up Superior, Jamboree or MacArthur boulevards, three of the seven designated exit routes. Newport Coast or Corona del Mar Flower Street residents should stay put to keep traffic off evacuation routes.

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 There is no place like home. When a disaster hits, stay at your home, or go to the CERT-designated command center (this assumes you and your neighbors have taken the initiative to organize a Community Emergency Response Team). Do not go to the police and fire stations. They will likely not be there. And putting more people on the road just makes it harder for the rescue personnel to get where they need to go.

 The Newport Beach firefighters are handsome and smart. The city utilizes emergency operations techniques used worldwide for disaster training. We got to meet firefighters and police officers with experience in fire, emergency, hazmat, first aid, victim psychology and crowd control.

 CERT means shopping and shoes. You may be on your own for three days, so it’s important to stock up on emergency supplies for your home, your car and your office, with sturdy shoes by your bed and a gas meter shut-off tool. Remember, your water heater holds hundreds of gallons of backup water supply.

 CERT teaches “triage,” or prioritizing actions for a situation. For example, when the fire truck drives through on its “windshield survey” after a disaster, you should wave and let them drive by. They are assessing the situation and deciding who needs the most help.

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