Saturday, June 25, 2011

Unwillingness by people to prepare themselves for inevitable disasters.

This out from a Marin County, CA Grand Jury report on June 24th regarding Emergency preparedness of the County to an emergency. This is from the Pacific Sun newspaper:

Marin not 'ready' in event of disaster, says grand jury

by Jason Walsh

Always be prepared, concludes the Marin County Civil Grand Jury in its latest report on county disaster preparedness.

In the event of a major disaster, such as a "big one" sized earthquake, most Marin residents would likely be without emergency-response assistance for the first three to seven days, the grand jury says in its report released June 24, "Disaster Preparedness in Marin: Are You Ready?"

An investigation into Marin's disaster preparedness was launched by the grand jury in the wake of the Australian floods, tornados through the U.S., the Japanese earthquake and tsunami and other recent horrors in Chile, Haiti and New Zealand. Its findings: the ability of public safety personnel to respond quickly to assist residents is "severely compromised" and that "complacency [by residents is not a plan."
The grand jury found that 70 to 80 percent of Marin's "first responders"—fire fighers, police and paramedics—reside outside of the county—some as far away as Kern, Sutter, Nevada and Butte counties. Plus, only 30 to 33 percent of first responders are on duty at any given time, meaning there are not enough personnel to aid all residents for a period between 3 to 7 days following a disaster.

To be better prepared, the grand jury recommends that residents take advantage of training by Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)—which trains neighborhood volunteers to augment the work of first responders—and Get Ready Marin, the two-hour program offered through local fire departments that assist residents in preparing a "shelter in place."

The report was particularly glowing of the City of Mill Valley's disaster preparation—calling it a "model that other cities and towns might emulate." Particularly, the grand jury lauded Mill Valley's "Fire in Mill Valley" blaze-resistant landscaping plan, as well as its Mill Valley Vegetation Management Plan, two programs aimed at preventing large-scale fires, a big concern for the town at the base of Mt. Tam. Additionally, Mill Valley received kudos for its semi-annual training of educators and its Get Ready 5th Grade preparedness programs. "To date," reports the grand jury, "800 residents have taken (Get Ready Marin) classes in Mill Valley."

The grand jury also credited the Town of Tiburon, which originally developed the Get Ready Marin program in the wake of 9/11.

"When a disaster occurs," concludes the report, "Marin residents must realize they will be on their own until first responders arrive."

Recommendations by the grand jury include: The County Office of Emergency Services create an electronic database to track OEC training required of managers and staff; that the county OES take over the management of CERT in 2012 and fund the program annually; and that the Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff's department "ensure that programs for disaster preparedness are given the highest priority."

This topic is of special interest to me as I serve on my town's Emergency Responsiveness Committee. The most difficult task is to get residents interested enough to go to a 2 hour class. This is never easy. I have been thinking if there were some tangible incentive for people to take a class they might. I am really receptive to any ideas here from you, so feel free to make some. Thanks!

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Blogger James said...

Food always works, Charles!

8:08 PM  

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