So, on Saturday, April 5 at Monteith Park in the View Park neighborhood, the Los Angeles County Fire Department gave residents who completed a free Community Emergency Response Team class the opportunity to apply what they learned in a stimulated earthquake drill. As part of the drill, CERT members made Monteith Park their command post and organized themselves into teams to survey the neighborhood. Under the supervision of Los Angeles County firefighters, CERT members went into homes, searched for injured victims, triaged the victims and moved them to a treatment area where they received care.
Maria Grycan, Community Services Liaison for L.A. County Fire Division 7, whose jurisdiction includes View Park, noted that the drill was designed to reinforce what residents learned in their CERT trainings, empowering them to be less reliant on first responders.
“Residents are going to have to come together to help one another because first responders are not going to be there to help them,” Gryan said. “They need to help themselves.” She also noted that in the View Park and Ladera Heights area there are only nine firefighters who serve the needs of nearly 20,000 people on a daily basis; those same firefighters will not be able to meet all the immediate needs of the community should a significant earthquake occur.
“We encourage residents to watch CERT members participate in the drill with the hope that they will want to go through the CERT training,” said Grycan.
Ramona La France, 52, a View Park resident and an emergency response team member, decided two years ago to enroll in a free CERT class with seven of her neighbors. There, the former police sergeant and mother of three learned techniques on how to put out small fires, administer first aid and conduct search and rescue.
La France knows that assistance from fire and emergency crews may not be available for 48-hours depending on where the most drastic emergencies are located. She recalls the streets of South Los Angeles and Inglewood during the L.A. Riots when food and water were scarce.
“People were reliant upon their neighbors, the Red Cross or had to travel to other counties to get food or water, which is not practical,” said La France. “It’s good that neighbors shared their food and water but it’s also bad because they exhausted their own resources.”
La France says residents have decided to make it an annual event and they are the only community where real homes are used in the drills.
“We want to protect life during and after a major disaster,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “We want to make sure residents know what to do to sustain themselves and others.”
For additional upcoming CERT Classes, please visit: Fire.lacounty.gov/cert