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As Americans, we face the potential of natural disasters as part of our daily lives. The East and South face hurricanes and flooding, the North faces bitter cold and freezing weather, the Midwest lives with tornados and flooding, and we on the West Coast live with earthquakes.
We face the prospects of the “Big One,” the much written and talked about inevitable devastating earthquake that could potentially destroy a lifestyle to which we have become accustomed.
After the events of 9/11, we now have manmade events added to the list of potential disasters we might have to face. A potential disaster shared by all areas of the country is a pandemic medical emergency which could be from natural causes or manmade in the form of a bio-terror or virus armed weapon.
Whichever disaster we potentially face, proactive preparation is essential to survival. We have all experienced many fire drills in our past and most have taken them seriously while respecting the need for them.
A proactive preparation exercise occurred during the morning hours of March 13, when 45 Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers from Foster City and San Mateo in a coordinated effort went door-to-door in their respective communities delivering earthquake preparedness information to about 3,000 homes in pre-determined areas within a three-hour window.
The exercise, complete with designed pitfalls and complications, was to simulate the distribution of medications from an Anthrax dispersal attack. Other objectives were to gather labor requirements, time, communications, and logistics required to cover the pre-designated areas. The agencies participating included the City of Foster City, City of San Mateo, San Mateo County Public Health, San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services, and the CERT members.
As part of my ongoing concern for emergency preparedness, I continue to feel the need to keep aware and involved in our emergency preparedness and community safety activities. My schedule afforded me the time to attend only the morning briefing; however, I came away with the feeling that all those participating were taking the exercise very seriously and donating their time which would take the majority of their day.
There was representation of safety personnel from several other cities along the Peninsula present to observe the proceedings, demonstrating a tribute to the success and notoriety of our CERT program.
Of the exercise, the San Mateo Fire Chief said, “Exercises such as this demonstrate the critical role community residents may be called upon to perform in an emergency and the importance of neighborhood preparedness…”
The exercise was a success by all accounts and the San Mateo Public Health Department expects turning this drill into an annual exercise and adding more cities each time.
Disasters show little respect for jurisdictional or personal boundaries. The entire city could be affected or just a few neighborhoods. Foster City has a very successful CERT program to be sure (over 180 graduated so far) which is predicated on the premise of neighbor helping neighbor. I am proud to live in a community where the residents are willing to spend their time to be trained and prepared to help each other in the event of a disaster.
In the event of a disaster, you could be hurt and isolated for several days before help is able to arrive. Are you as prepared as you could be for such a situation?
I would appreciate your comments on this and other issues by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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City Hall - 610 Foster City Blvd.
Foster City, CA 94404