Your neighbor’s chimney has collapsed; across the street a building is on fire, and three houses down your bed-ridden elderly neighbor is trapped in his bedroom, alone. The power is out and you smell gas. So you pick up the phone and call 911, only to find your telephone doesn’t work.
On Saturday, recognizing that Los Angeles may be long overdue for a major earthquake, a Northeast Los Angeles area neighborhood group will conduct an earthquake drill — complete with a mock disaster scene, like the one described above. The goal is to get people prepared for the “Big One,” or any other disaster that could leave you having to fend for yourself, your family, and your neighbors.
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The Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council Great ShakeOut Drill will simulate the aftermath of an earthquake through the use of role-playing victims with special effects makeup to illustrate their injuries. Community participants who trained for the event and created a neighbor-based emergency plan will use the skills they learned to act out how they could help their own neighbors after a natural disaster, when police and fire departments may not be able to respond quickly.
Neil Norheim, who lives a block from the Montecito Heights Recreation Center where the drill will take place, will take part by taking on the role of an average guy who comes out of the disaster unscathed and wants to help his neighbors.
“It could happen, something like this is imminent. There is going to be a natural disaster in Los Angeles, we don’t know when but it will happen,” Norheim told EGP. “What are the chances of a fire truck going down every street … in the case of a disaster there is nothing but your neighbor” to help you he said.
The neighbor-helping-neighbor drill will take place in the Mosher and Homer streets near the Montecito Heights Recreation Center on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11a.m. A Disaster Survival Fair at Sycamore Grove Park will follow the drill from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will include a variety of games, food and music, along with information about the basics of disaster survival.
Judy Knapton, a board member for the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council, will be playing a victim in the drill she told EGP is “very realistic.”
“Its very natural to want to help your own neighbors,” Knapton said. “Its smart for smaller groups of people to be prepared.”
The drill will begin with the soundtrack of an earthquake rumble broadcasted through LAPD cruisers at 9 a.m. Community members will then simulate the rescue of victims with injuries like amputations, head traumas, broken bones and bloody faces created by Hollywood makeup artists.
The disaster scene will include a mock morgue, animal shelter, command post and a communications center. Police, fire, ambulances and the Urban Search and Rescue Team will arrive in their full gear and equipment, but not until 11 a.m., presumably hours or days after the earthquake.
Roy Payon, Community Emergency Response Search Lead for the Los Angeles Search Team in Montecito Heights, helped organize and prepare the community for the drill. He told EGP the public needs to start preparing to take care of itself in the case of a disaster.
“The drill is unique because we realized that there is not going to be enough search, fire and police to go around,” Payon said. “In a natural disaster we may not have help for five to twelve days.”
Those who cannot attend the event can log on to shakeout.org/arroyo to play along with their friends and neighbors and use an interactive scenario to learn about what it takes to prepare their neighborhood to survive a big earthquake.
“We don’t have to look outside for help, every sector of the community has to be aware of the natural and vital resources available in their community,” said Payton.
The Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council hopes other neighborhoods will follow their lead and put together a community response disaster plan. They are filming the drill and plan to use the video to teach other neighborhoods about how they can work together in emergency situations.
The Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council Great ShakeOut Drill is a part of the Great California Shakeout that will take place on Oct. 18.