“Disaster preparedness is what the Ready Set Go Event is all about,” says Lompoc Fire Chief Kurt Latipow, “and to get out our message.” Today’s event is in its second year again drawing together local emergency responders and the public. Informational booths and demonstrations alert citizens to the need to plan ahead. Recalling the recent Miguelito Fire on the outskirts of town, Latipow said, “The evacuation was a wake-up.”
In collaboration with The Home Depot, Lompoc, emergency agencies from the Red Cross to the County Sheriffs Office, and from Local fire departments to paramedics, to include state agencies, drew in several hundred adults with information and a strong message about the importance of being ready. The children enjoyed events and demonstrations with the same message.
The Lompoc Firefighter’s Foundation, a local public safety advocacy group, has a special project underway to do in-home fire safety surveys. The program sends out fire department trained volunteers to conduct the surveys. Homeowners and renters are alerted to any fire safety problems, and then they receive an automatic power failure light in case of a power outage. If the fire alarm or carbon monoxide alarms are faulty, Lompoc Fire comes out to install a new 10-year battery life combination alarm.
Gail Peterson, of the Foundation, said, “We’re here to get the word out that you need to have smoke and Co2 detectors.” Relating a recent tragedy where several of her family members perished needlessly, she said, “They did not have them, that could have been prevented. These alarms give people up to three minutes to get out.”
Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members are involved in continuous training for disasters big and small. Trained by public safety agencies, and organized nationally, local members want “get people ready and prepared.”
Santa Barbara County Animal Services distributed brochures and emphasized the importance to “plan now” for evacuation with pets. They explained livestock evacuation contingencies, as well.
Pastor Bernie Federmann, a long time advocate for public safety, was on hand with church members giving out free drinks and snacks for the public. “Home Dept is great for letting us use this space,” says the pastor, “ a lot of people aren't prepared. They are not ready and don’t know what to take in an evacuation. That’s why ‘ready set go’ is so important.”
Also on hand, were local Red Cross volunteers. Wayne Ross recalled the recent Miguelito Fire evacuations. “In one hour we were fully operational and ready to serve 100 people at the shelter. And we were getting ready to serve 300 to 600 more,” he said. Ross explained that the Red Cross is ready “24/7” with local volunteers ready and on-call. Once mobilized they, if needed, start alerting other Red Cross volunteers outside the community to assist.
With all the first responders the message was clear: “Be prepared, Ready, Set, Go!”
Chief Latipow is on a mission to get the public ready for any emergency. He sees the highest potential for a disaster in the Urban Wildland Interface surrounding the community. Especially, with the drought and summer conditions confronting California. “We are always, always, emphasizing to be prepared. Disasters can happen anytime,” he said. Thanking the sponsors of the event he continued, “The Home Depot is a strong partner with us. No matter what we do, they are here for us. They're helping us carry the message ‘to be ready.’”