Emergency Disaster Training Returns to Montebello After Long Absence

By Nancy Martinez, EGP Staff Writer

Most people assume that during major disasters like earthquakes, firefighters and ambulances will be immediately available to residents, but according to emergency preparedness experts, people should be ready and able to take care of themselves for at least 24 hours because emergency personnel may not be there to help when disaster strikes.

Like many cities in Los Angeles County, Montebello public safety officials advise residents to prepare for large-scale disasters, and they suggest the city’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program starting later this month is a good way to begin.

With talk of “the big one” hitting Southern California sometime in the future —it’s not a question of if, but when — the Montebello Fire Department and Park Avenue Christian Church are partnering to offer free CERT training to Montebello residents. The 20-hour program, taught over three days starting Feb. 21, uses hands on experiences to teach people what to expect during a major disaster and perhaps more importantly, how to work with neighbors or co-workers to minimize the damage.

“We all know [that] where we live we have earthquakes,” said Gary Wong, the volunteer coordinator for the training program.

 

He said during a real disaster most people could be surprised that “fire trucks may just continue driving past them to the most badly affected areas.”

That fact is the impetus for getting people trained to deal with emergency situations in their own neighborhoods, when police, fire or other emergency personnel are unavailable.

In Montebello, 8-square miles located 8 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles, disasters may not come in the form of tsunamis or hurricanes, says Fire Capt. Rocky Lopez, but they’re not limited to just earthquakes either.

“A major disaster can be a wind event, a terrorist event,” Lopez said. “A disaster is relevant to the available resources.”

The neighboring cities of Monterey Park and Commerce each have an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that will serve as a central command post where the city’s emergency response will be coordinated in the event of a disaster. Montebello did as well, but the city’s EOC — located in the Corporate Yards complex along Greenwood Avenue —needed extensive renovation, particularly to its roof, closed down indefinitely last year. City staff told EGP that when it will reopen will be decided once renovations are complete.

Wong hopes the city will reopen its EOC soon, but in the meantime sees the reintroduction of the CERT training program as a step toward getting the city’s residents ready to deal with a disaster.

“This is a rejuvenation of the program,” said Wong, who pointed out it’s been years since the CERT program was offered in Montebello.

City officials see partnerships between the Montebello Fire Dept. and groups like Park Venue Christian Church as a viable tool for increasing emergency preparedness in the city, and the number of people trained to respond to a disaster should one occur.

Lopez told EGP he does not think some areas of Montebello are more vulnerable than others, saying for example that just because someone lives near a gas station doesn’t mean they are at higher risk. Small businesses are just as much at risk of being harmed in a disaster as a large company, he said. They are also as likely to be the cause of an emergency, he added.

“It all depends on what is around you,” explained Lopez. “You have to be aware of the surroundings.”

Lopez noted that Montebello’s fire department does routinely inspect businesses for flammable and hazardous material safety compliance, but said it only takes one day of being out of compliance for a disaster to strike.

The city’s northeast border, located north of the 60 Freeway, however, could conceivably be considered a high-risk area.  A disaster — earthquake, fire, storm — could cripple the overpass that connects the two sides of the city, so Montebello police and fire have worked out a communication plan with the Los Angeles County Fire Dept., which patrols that area adjacent to Rosemead.

“Large scale disasters are more difficult [to respond to], that is why it’s important to learn how to take care of yourself for a minimum of 24 hours,” urged Lopez.

Montebello’s three-day CERT training course will be held Friday, Feb. 21 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and conclude Saturday, March 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Class size is limited so reservations are required for the training course which will include instruction on how to indentify hazards, medical treatment for burns and fractures and a disaster simulation drill.

Residents who are unable to attend CERT training are advised to visit online resources such as the Red Cross or FEMA to learn about some of the crucial tips needed to survive when a major disaster strikes.

Park Avenue Christian Church is located at 113 South Park Ave. in Montebello. For more information call (323) 721-5187.

Most people assume that during major disasters like earthquakes, firefighters and ambulances will be immediately available to residents, but according to emergency preparedness experts, people should be ready and able to take care of themselves for at least 24 hours because emergency personnel may not be there to help when disaster strikes.

Like many cities in Los Angeles County, Montebello public safety officials advise residents to prepare for large-scale disasters, and they suggest the city’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program starting later this month is a good way to begin.

With talk of “the big one” hitting Southern California sometime in the future —it’s not a question of if, but when — the Montebello Fire Department and Park Avenue Christian Church are partnering to offer free CERT training to Montebello residents. The 20-hour program, taught over three days starting Feb. 21, uses hands on experiences to teach people what to expect during a major disaster and perhaps more importantly, how to work with neighbors or co-workers to minimize the damage.

“We all know [that] where we live we have earthquakes,” said Gary Wong, the volunteer coordinator for the training program.

He said during a real disaster most people could be surprised that “fire trucks may just continue driving past them to the most badly affected areas.”

That fact is the impetus for getting people trained to deal with emergency situations in their own neighborhoods, when police, fire or other emergency personnel are unavailable.

In Montebello, 8-square miles located 8 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles, disasters may not come in the form of tsunamis or hurricanes, says Fire Capt. Rocky Lopez, but they’re not limited to just earthquakes either.

“A major disaster can be a wind event, a terrorist event,” Lopez said. “A disaster is relevant to the available resources.”

The neighboring cities of Monterey Park and Commerce each have an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that will serve as a central command post where the city’s emergency response will be coordinated in the event of a disaster. Montebello did as well, but the city’s EOC — located in the Corporate Yards complex along Greenwood Avenue —needing extensive renovation, particularly to its roof, closed down indefinitely last year. City staff told EGP that when it will reopen will be decided once renovations are complete.

Wong hopes the city will reopen its EOC soon, but in the meantime he sees the reintroduction of the CERT training program as a step toward getting the city’s residents ready to deal with a disaster.

“This is a rejuvenation of the program,” said Wong, who pointed out it’s been years since the CERT program was offered in Montebello.

City officials see partnerships between the Montebello Fire Dept. and groups like Park Venue Christian Church as a viable tool for increasing emergency preparedness in the city, and the number of people trained to respond to a disaster should one occur.

Lopez told EGP he does not think some areas of Montebello are more vulnerable than others, saying for example that just because someone lives near a gas station doesn’t mean they are at higher risk. Small businesses are just as much as risk of being harmed in a disaster as a large company, he said. They are also as likely to be the cause of an emergency, he added.

“It all depends on what is around you,” explained Lopez. “You have to be aware of the surroundings.”

Lopez noted that Montebello’s fire department does routinely inspect businesses for flammable and hazardous material safety compliance, but said it only takes one day of being out of compliance for a disaster to occur.

The city’s northeast border, located north of the 60 Freeway, however, could conceivably be considered a high-risk area.  A disaster — earthquake, fire, storm — could cripple the overpass that connects the two sides of the city, so Montebello police and fire have worked out a communication plan with the Los Angeles County Fire Dept., which patrols that area adjacent to Rosemead.

“Large scale disasters are more difficult [to respond to], that is why it’s important to learn how to take care of yourself for a minimum of 24 hours,” urged Lopez.

Montebello’s three-day CERT training course will be held Friday, Feb. 21 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and conclude Saturday, March 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Class size is limited so reservations are required for the training course which will include instruction on how to indentify hazards, medical treatment for burns and fractures and a disaster simulation drill.

Residents who are unable to attend CERT training are advised to visit online resources such as the Red Cross or FEMA to learn about some of the crucial tips needed to survive when a major disaster strikes.

 

Park Avenue Christian Church is located at 113 South Park Ave. in Montebello. For more information call (323) 721-5187. 

 
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February 6, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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