College employees prepare
for the next disaster
Kevin Mason demonstrates medical exam techniques
on technician Jim Liko.
Southern California marked the 10th anniversary of the
Northridge earthquake last month, a group of 50 Mission College
employees began training to prepare for the next big
one. Or for a calamitous accident. Or a terrorist attack.
The employees, including classified staff, administrators
and faculty members, are enrolled in CERT Community
Emergency Response Training. Launched by the Los Angeles City
Fire Department in 1985 as a pilot program, CERT trains citizen
volunteers to perform basic fire suppression, light search
and rescue, and first aid.
Southern California, the need for volunteers trained to deal
with disasters is obvious, as Firefighter Kevin Mason told
the Mission College volunteers:
"When the next major earthquake hits, the resources of
the L.A. City Fire Department all 103 stations
are going to be maxed-out within five minutes," he said.
"Its going to be up to you to handle the
Mason said people are going to have to fend for themselves,
probably for several days. Theyre going to have to shut
off their own gas and water lines, provide their own food
and water, recognize and avoid hazardous situations, and,
yes, even treat some serious injuries and wounds.
The Mission College group has received or will receive training
in all of those areas. Participants are learning everything
from using a fire extinguisher to how to determine if an accident
victim is in shock or bleeding internally.
Liko, a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning technician
who has been with the college since 1991, is undergoing the
training for the second time. He said it gives him comfort,
when considering that disaster may strike at any time.
Im at work, at home or in church when it happens, I
feel Ill be able to use my knowledge to help others,
to be a leader," he said. "The training gives you
confidence to say, I can do it."
Renolds and Erik Danam practice fire extinguishing.
Richard Arvizu, Acting Vice President, Administrative Services,
brought the training to Mission College as part of its emergency
disaster preparations. He noted that the training not only
will benefit the campus, but also the surrounding community.
"Because of our size and location, chances are the college
will be a response or evacuation center in a major emergency,"
he said. "Well have trained people on campus to
help carry that out."
The origins of CERT date to the Mexico City earthquake in
1985. Untrained volunteers helped rescue more than 800 victims.
But more than 100 volunteers died in the effort. The lesson:
Volunteers are needed in major disasters, but they must be
trained to protect themselves and recognize overly dangerous
Since 1987, more than 40,000 volunteers have been CERT-trained,
said Marc Shapiro, L.A. City Fire paramedic and co-trainer
of the Mission College group. Now, 49 states and six foreign
countries are using the CERT materials and techniques.
The training is offered year-round at locations throughout
the city. To learn more about CERT and to see a schedule of
training sessions and locations, visit www.cert-la.com
BY EDUARDO PARDO