When Disaster Strikes, Who Is Going To Help Me? Prepare Yourself.
In today’s world, we have a constant stream of information coming to us either by television, the internet, or radio. The media has the capability of being able to broadcast out information from almost any location in the world, often being on site of some kind of disaster, or military event while it may be happening or within minutes after. This type of coverage left me with a huge fear while watching the events of Hurricane Katrina unfold before our eyes on CNN. The fear was if everything is so torn apart, how does one get help?
Many people waited days and days to see any kind of help at all as they were trapped in rubble of houses, flood waters, closed off damaged roads, and no food or water. At times it appeared to me that the only people that were not victims were the people broadcasting it.
As the events unfolded, I listened too many people complain and point fingers at government officials for not being able to get help to them fast enough. As time went by, we began to see help slowly arrive from FEMA, The Red Cross and other groups of volunteers. I kept watching the media still showing all these people in need of basic things to help them get through this and wished I had been trained to assist the Red Cross or something to help out but the reality is I don’t think I can afford the time to get trained and respond for weeks or months to a disaster area to help.
Why don’t people get help faster from local government? It seems like it is a simple answer. When something that large strikes, the people we rely on every day to respond to medical calls, fires, police response, or to get a cat out of your tree also become the victims of the disaster. If you were a volunteer fireman I’m sure you would try to be with your family through the disaster before you can ever help hundreds or thousands of other people. Of course we have to mention that the ones that are able to respond are terribly overloaded with calls, under staffed and unable to be everywhere at once.
The Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) in 1985 confirmed the need to train civilians to meet their immediate needs after a major disaster occurs. They created the Disaster Preparedness Division for the purpose of training citizens, private and government employees so they will be able to safely help themselves, their families, and neighbors if a disaster was to strike their area. This program was soon picked up through FEMA and carried across the United States and is known as the Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.)
When I first heard of the program, I quickly realized that this could be my way of being able to help myself and possibly others if I found myself in a disaster situation. The program was free for my training through my local emergency management services office. I signed up for a class that met once a week for a few weeks in a row and trained in First Aid, fire suppression, search and rescue and how to respond in situations. After completing the class, I was given a C.E.R.T backpack that was equipped with many of the tolls needed to assist with a disaster like first aid kits, masks, hard hat, flash lights, gloves, and many other tools.
Now I feel so much more prepared for myself, my family, and possibly my neighbors that I have some knowledge of how to “do the most good for the most amount of people” if a disaster occurs around me. I meet with some of my team members once a month to discuss possible local issues between ourselves and the local emergency management officials and it does not take much of my time at all.
I would like to encourage you to take a look at the C.E.R.T. website to learn more about the opportunity to be prepared before it is too late and locate a program near you!
This handbook will help you to establish a practical disaster preparedness plan for your entire family.