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Is an Altadena Shake-Out Drill a Good Idea?

At Tuesday's Altadena Coalition of Neighborhood Association meeting, a block captain in East Altadena proposed the idea of a city-wide preparedness drill.

Is Altadena ready for the "Big One?"

After Novemeber's wind storms caused widespread power outages, many readers on this site and elsewhere wondered how well prepared the city is in case of a more serious emergency, like the massive earthquake seismologists say is overdue to arrive in Southern California.

At Tuesday's meeting of the Altadena Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, Steve Reagan, a block captain in an East Altadena neigbhorhood, proposed that Altadena help get prepared with a shake-out drill.

These drills, which have been done in other cities and throughout Southern California, are meant to simulate firefighter, paramedic, and other emergency team response, while also giving ordinary citizens a chance to simulate an earthquake response.

Reagan, who has CERT emergency provider training, proposed involving ordinary Altadena residents.  Neighborhoods should figure out who has CERT training, who has needed supplies, and come up with basic plans for how to respond after an emergency, he said.

He said the best way to start would be to form a committee to come up with a date, a plan and a communications strategy for making the drill work.

So what do you think reader?  Is this plan viable?  Do you think these type of emergency preparedness drills really help get people ready for the real thing?  What have you done or what do you plan to do to get ready for an earthquake?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Revvell January 26, 2012 at 02:04 PM
I think it makes sense. Is it viable? I dunno. There are many who don't read the blogs or even have computers, whom, even after the windstorm, have not taken time or action to prepare for anything. They will be depending on others to take care of them as they did this time not knowing or realizing that firefighters, deputies and any other emergency responders will not be available if/when they need them. They'll also not know how to reach them or, friends/relatives to let them know they're o.k. I had mixed feelings when, during the windstorms, we (volunteers) were asked to do welfare checks on folks because their relatives couldn't reach them so, here we go, it's dark, it's cold and we're knocking on doors of folk in their 70's, 80's... who've already gone to bed to stay warm and because they have no reason to be up. Across the street from one home the neighbors saw us and came out and told us they'd seen one 91 year old woman earlier in the day. At other places where we've been asked to do vacation checks we've had people come out from Neighborhood Watch to ask if all was o.k. I'm on my 3rd CERT training and each time I learn something different OR, I'm reminded of things I've not taken steps to do PLUS, I hear what others are doing to prepare. I know we all think it's not going to happen to us yet, my question is, what if it does?
Steve Lamb January 26, 2012 at 03:44 PM
When Anette Suilagi was on the Altadena Town Council this was her passion- Emergency preparedness. She only ever got three votes on the issue, Hers, mine and Oscar Werner's. It was a good idea then and its a good and right idea now.
Revvell January 26, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Now it's Carolyn Seitz' passion and she's making it happen!! Does the Town Council have to be involved?
Nadine Isenberg January 26, 2012 at 03:56 PM
I think it would be a good idea. We have 59 people in our CERT Class and that could be great additional training for all of us. We still have 2 more classes this Saturday and next. It could be brought up in class to see if the group would like to participate in that type of drill.
Dan Abendschein (Editor) January 26, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Carolyn did talk about additional CERT training and organization at the last Town Council. She was not at Tuesday's ACONA meeting. If she and the guy who proposed it at ACONA have not met and coordinated they really should - seems they both are very passionate about this idea.
Lori Paul January 26, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Community-wide "dress rehearsals" sound very productive; however, they also cost a lot of money to stage and little is learned thereby that folks do not already know: Gov't agencies, such as the Fire Dept and law enforcement, along with public utilities, like SCE, and hospitals will be utterly overwhelmed in a major regional earthquake. They'll have their own bldg collapses, injuries and fatalities on top of the widespread disaster. For example, how do you stop all the fires caused by the quake when your station roof has collapsed on a truck, there are trees and potentially live power lines + debris blocking most roadways, and severed water mains have cut off the water needed to fight the fire? Cell towers will be down. Power off. Question is, how prepared are each and every one of us to fend for ourselves during such a catastrophe and 3-4 weeks thereafter? How many of us have a month's worth of food for our household (there will always be extra mouths to feed, so that may end up being a week's worth in real time)? How many rolls of toilet paper on hand? You'll need a case. Solar flashlights, radios, fresh batteries and candles? Back up water supplies? Sanitation options (water service is likely to cut off or water contaminated)? Bandages bigger than 1"x3" + medicine? All this & more is our individual responsibility. We know what to do, but just need to do it. Visit Caltech's quake preparedness links to get started: http://www.seismolab.caltech.edu/gen_eq_info.html#prepare
Revvell January 26, 2012 at 05:21 PM
That's why all the CERT classes.... learn to care for yourself, family and neighbors first. We're not necessarily talking "community wide" all at one time... why not street-wide? Wont cost a thing! Why not have a block party that will address these kinds of things? There are people ~ firefighters, deputies, volunteers, etc. who have been and are willing to give their time for such things. Music and knowledge ~ great combination. Even if we only do it street-by-street it's better than people not knowing, eh?
Steve Lamb January 26, 2012 at 09:31 PM
The ATC record so far on this important issue has been eye rolling. I wouldn't bother begging them I'd just proceed and if they have any smarts they will hitch a ride on the bandwagon.
Laura Monteros January 26, 2012 at 09:33 PM
A Shake-Out is a great idea, but implementation is something else. In the first place, Altadena has no hospitals. Many of our emergency evacuation centers--public schools--have been shut down. I don't think we have a repository of emergency supplies or a communications center. That means we would have to coordinate with a larger agency--and hey, guess what? Larger agencies already participate in the Great Southern California ShakeOut every year. Why not just piggyback on that? Work with the county? The PUSD also does a disaster drill every year. Why not work with them, to either make it broader (include the community) or to provide volunteers to Altadena campuses? Revvell makes a couple very good points: Volunteers should not have to do what people can do for themselves; and CERT is not primarily to be a community backup, but to be prepared for our families and neighbors. HOWEVER--I do think a drill of some kind is a good idea and as a newly CERT-trained person, I would gladly participate, both to practice my training and to help see where improvement is needed.
Hilary Cable January 27, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Dan, I think a very important key phrase in your article is "many readers on this site and elsewhere wondered how well prepared the *city* is in case of a more serious emergency..." Emphasis mine. This reflects most people's attitude: "not to worry. The city (county, state, feds) will take care of me after a disaster." This simply is not the case. In disaster after disaster, we see the communities that fare the best are the ones that make preparedness their personal responsibility. The ones that fare the worst are the ones where people never gave personal preparedness any though and assumed the city, county, state and feds were on their way. I hope Altadena will be smarter than that, because our geography isolates us to some extent. We could be alone for days. Even basic CERT training is better than nothing. A drill would be better.
Hilary Cable January 27, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Thanks Lori Paul for the link!

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