Disaster training held in San Francisco

April 19, 2008 6:37:51 PM PDT
Wouldn't it be nice to have trained personnel right next door to you when the next big earthquake or other disaster hits? That's the plan they were working on in San Francisco Saturday. Emergency officials want you to be the first responder.

A training and re-training course was held Saturday for NERT volunteers at Everett Middle School.

NERT stands for Neighborhood Emergency Response Team. Those are the people who may be coming to your aid in San Francisco after a disaster.

Clyde Short is a team member.

"We can't look to government to protect us. We'll stand by ourselves with each other and look after each other," says Short.

Working together is the key, plus knowing exactly what to do ahead of time.

"If they want to volunteer after a major disaster they get some skills and training so that they're pre-affiliated with some organization like the fire department or the Red Cross," says Erica Arteseros, a NERT coordinator.

The drill takes on more immediacy following the report released this week by the US Geological Survey. It says San Francisco has a 63 percent likelihood of an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 or greater in the next 30 years.

Traditional first response crews will be overwhelmed, citizens will be on their own for perhaps days.

Catherine Scuderi will be helping neighbors in Noe Valley.

"I was here for the '89 quake and soon after took the training. If I can do something to help I want to be able to do it. I want to know what to do. I don't want to be in the way," says Scuderi.

Everyone at the training is learning that the most important thing to do in an emergency is first, take care of yourself. In fact, there's something each of us can do tonight before we go to bed to prepare.

"You can put comfortable shoes under your bed tonight free of charge so in case something happens while you're sleeping you can slip into your shoes before you run down the hall and cut your feet on some glass," says Arteseros.

NERT certification requires 20 hours of training and teaches rescue techniques, first aid, teamwork and survival. In short, it teaches preparation for a major disaster which scientists are certain is coming, and traditional first responders are certain they won't be able to handle.


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