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Woodside Fire training teaches response to any disaster

 

With earthquakes, fire, floods, landslides and other disasters at a very real level of possibility in the area, the Woodside Fire Protection District is helping individuals help others and stay safe.

The district is doing this through its Citizens for Emergency Response and Preparedness Program, which offers full training to qualify to be a part of an emergency response team, known as WPV-CERT; and a second program, WPV-Ready, that includes one-evening courses to help residents prepare themselves and their neighborhoods for a disaster.

"WPV-Ready is about preparation on an individual and neighborhood level, and WPV-CERT is about preparation and response (to an emergency)," said Selena Brown, the fire district's public education officer and emergency preparedness coordinator.

The programs have a different approach to preparing people for wildfires than for earthquakes, Brown said.

"In a wildfire, the emphasis is on evacuation, getting yourself and your family out of the threatened area as quickly and safely as possible," Brown said. "In an earthquake, it is more about having supplies available in your home and helping people who are injured."

Thus, the wildfire module teaches residents how to prepare a "go bag" that holds prescription medications and other can't-live-without items that they can grab and run out the door with at the first sign of a threat.

They are also encouraged to decide in advance where they are going to evacuate to, whether it be a hotel, the home of a relative or some other location.

For an earthquake, WPV-CERT teaches residents how to splint broken bones, dress wounds and treat people for shock in case emergency first-responders are overwhelmed.

"We offer three (WPV-CERT) courses a year over six evenings and a full-day drill in which we simulate an earthquake," Brown said.

In the full-day drill, participants organize, assess the situation, identify resources and make a plan of action, then break up into groups and practice different roles, including serving on a medical team and taking part in search and rescue missions.

"Our motto is, the greatest good for the greatest number in the shortest amount of time," Brown said. "You don't want to become part of the problem or another injured person."

The district finished its latest WPV-CERT program on June 8 with 15 graduates, and will be holding the next one beginning in September. Each class can accommodate up to 30.

The next WPV-Ready session will be held on July 11 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

To register for either, go to wpv-cert.org.

"It was and is essential for residents in this community to prepare themselves with training and supplies," Woodside Fire Chief Rob Lindner said in a news release. "Given the size and geography of the district, 32 square miles of hilly terrain with a low-density residential population, we know we'll be on our own for an extended period of time in a disaster."

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