The ball is in your court when it comes to being ready for a disaster. More than ever, people are being empowered at work, home, school and community, to take initiative in disaster preparedness in order to be ready to rely upon themselves.
At the 29th Annual Disaster Preparedness Academy of the American Red Cross serving Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties today at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, 700 registrants gathered to hear master of ceremonies Ryan Turner, senior fire communications supervisor for the Orange County Fire Authority, make this year's opening pitch to the audience, "What's your game plan?"
"As we look back over this past year, Southern California has been spared," Turner said. "I don't think we've had a major disaster since 1994, Northridge, but we cannot become complacent in our efforts to prepare. You must understand where we live. Earthquakes. We are due. It is not if. It is when."
Intercepting the ball from Ryan, opening keynote speaker David Ono of ABC7 Eyewitness News Los Angeles issued a series of challenges to the audience to put themselves in the shoes of those who've experienced major disasters around the world. Ono, who reported from Japan on the March 2011 quake and won an Edward R. Murrow award for his coverage of the Haiti quake in 2010, presented images of the Boston bombing, and the Haiti and Japan quakes.
"What would you do in the situation," Ono said as the images flashed across the screens. "Do you know CPR? Can you stop bleeding? Can you be a leader?
"Have a plan with your family," Ono said. "Not just food. Not just water. You have to find a rally point where people will meet when you can't reach anyone by phone. You cannot rely on the government to save you. You have to save yourself."
Each year, the DPA's mission in this day of training is to provide information to businesses, government agencies, schools, universities, health care, non-profit and faith-based organizations, and to anyone else who wants to step up their knowledge of emergency preparedness planning, mitigation, response and recovery. Training sessions range from "The Northridge Earthquake Anniversary: What We've Learned in the 20 Years Since LA's Last Major Quake, to Social Media: Changing the Face of Response. Keynote luncheon speaker Michael Byrne, Pacific Division Disaster Executive with the American Red Cross, is addressing "Superstorm Sandy Lessons Learned."
"You never know with Mother Nature," Ono told the morning audience. "Do not underestimate. Be ready for anything."