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On the morning of September 11, 2001, as Raleigh native Nichole Scaraglino was getting ready for work in her Manhattan apartment, the news on her TV turned into a nightmare. She realized the city was under attack, so she threw some essentials into a bag and fled with her roommates—looking for some way, any way, off the island and out of New York.
Phone lines were down, transportation halted and the streets were thick with panicked people.
‘Hordes of people were just standing or wandering as though waiting for instruction that would never come,’ said Scaraglino.
Although we pray nothing like that ever happens here, North Hills staff and volunteers recently went through a seven-week training program that certifies them to assist in case of an emergency.
The Midtown CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) is the only one of its kind within Raleigh city limits. Want to get in on the action? Basic CERT training courses will be held
March 19 and 20 and are open to the public. To register, go to http://tinyurl.com/MidtownCERT
The CERT program was created under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to train security about disaster preparedness and respond until professionals arrive.
“In the event of a large scale disaster, emergency services will be overwhelmed and assistance rendered by these agencies will be limited,” Robert Batista, director of public safety at Kane Realty Corporation. “CERT volunteers will activate to assist people in the community with any needs regarding basic first aid, search and rescue and all aspects of disaster mitigation until help can be provided.”
Practicing…just in case.
As a general rule, even though we see scary and dangerous events all over the media, it’s easy to feel insulated.
“People don’t think things like this can happen to them, so it’s our job to think of the bad things that can happen and prepare for them,” says Derrick Remer, emergency management and special events manager for the city of Raleigh. “I’m the doomsdayer, if you will.”
Remer and his team are responsible for the safety of the city’s nearly half a million people. That means planning for emergencies of all kinds and then putting those plans into practice, often in conjunction with the county, the state and neighboring municipalities. Training exercises run the gamut from mock train derailment scenarios that take a year to coordinate to simply hauling out and practicing with little-used equipment.
“We can’t prepare for every single scenario, but we can practice the things we know are going to happen and then apply these same principles to whatever might happen,” says Remer.
Equally important is the public affairs department.
“People, especially in a time of crisis, want to know what’s going on,” says Remer. “There’s a process in place to ensure we’re providing this information.”
The city is also listening. In the event of an emergency, someone is always monitoring social media feeds. Citizens can act as the city’s “eyes on the street” by sharing photos and using shared hashtags.
“We’ll just put a filter on there to follow whatever that hashtag is and we can see everything that everybody’s posting. It really helps us to see what’s going on,” says Remer.
Have a personal plan.
Create an emergency plan for your family; decide where to meet and memorize phone numbers. Take a class on CPR and first aid, and store enough supplies to last each person—and pet—in your household for at least 72 hours. And when you’ve prepared your own house, help others.
“The bottom line is, look out for your neighbors,” says Remer. “While I pride the government, and I pride us on our resources, resources get strained… when a community can take care of itself and help one another and essentially buy time until the professionals can get there, it makes everything better in the end.”
Build a basic 72-hour kit.
An ice storm or hurricane could leave you without power for days.
Get the family involved in putting together an emergency kit, and rotate its contents regularly.
• Water: one gallon per person and pet per day
• Food: non-perishables you actually want to eat,
as well as a can opener
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• Radio (battery-powered or hand-cranked)
• First-aid kit and backups of medicines, glasses
• Baby wipes for sanitation, toothbrushes, diapers and feminine hygiene products if needed
• Documents: stash copies of important papers in case you have to leave home in a hurry
• Fire extinguisher
• Plastic sheeting and duct tape for shelter; masks
• Blankets and cold-weather clothes
• Extras: Books, games, instant coffee
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