Friday, November 14, 2008

Boots on the Ground!

Scroll down - rt. hand side My boots on a crack in the sidewalk, representing the Big One...

Dateline - Redondo Beach - Great Southern California ShakeOut This is Nina Murphy for FOXY News -- I'm currently embedded with some CERTs (screen runs "Community Emergency Response Team" below) of about 20 to 23 people. Most of them are in the required gear for an exercise - ID on a cord around the neck, work boots, clothing they don't care about, reflective vest and CERT hard hat; gear bags close to hand. I can't disclose our actual location, but it's a local park. We've been here (glances at watch) exactly one hour and nothing whatsoever (frowns) has happened ( brightens) But I can tell you that the bullhorn works and they are available at Radio Shack! We're told to be ready to convoy out in another 20 -- or 30 -- minutes - back to you, coops!

"Thanks, Coops - we convoyed over to the northern end of Melvyn's, on the south side of the now defunct Comp USA -- there are ambulances, fire engines and fire fighters ... a police car ... as well as many volunteers and several tents for signing up -- everyone must be registered and given a wristband with their ID number on it -- and then re-registered to go out in the field a a medical tech or search and rescue team or as a runner to team leaders. I'm told that the information booth inside the mall needs a pair of volunteers to explain to shoppers what is going on (maniac grin) at the Great Southern California ShakeOut! (Serious again) Search and rescue teams have all been issued small green information cards to hand to shoppers as they've been instructed not to stop and give explanations. This is very serious business, Coops

"Camera and I are still waiting for an assignment -- we have now been standing around for a full two hours and frankly, this is not what I signed up for... if we aren't chosen in the next few minutes, I think it's safe to say we've seen enough ... back to you, Coops

"Thanks, Coops ... this is Nina Murphy for FOXY News saying "Goodbye for now" Camera and I are headed out to Cialuzzi's Italian restaurant for a glass of wine and dinner -- when we were leaving at 5:40 p.m. some volunteers had just been told to set up the medical tent and three search and rescue teams were still cooling their heels against the side of the old Comp USA. We began this exercise promptly at 3:30 p.m."


To explain our turn-tail stance ... Richie and I have participated in a number of drills and exercises since graduating CERT -- I graduated Class 11 in 1999; Richie was Class 19 and they are up to Class 30+. We have done several search and rescues, a previous major disaster scene, gone back for additional training in Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) as well as re-certification in CPR. We attended this drill in proper clothing, gear bags at hand.

It was interesting to observe the bare bones of an operation of this magnitude. Now we know what to expect from volunteer help -- which should prove interesting in view of reality -- cracked streets broken water mains, power lines down and gas leaks in addition to crumbled buildings -- making the possibility of assistance like this rather ... unlikely. As an education tool it was invaluable.

But take it to the bank -- we're all doomed. My advice? Stay home and take care of your own.

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