Approximately 400 people attended an event at Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey May 21 to assist the public in preparing for earthquakes, tsunamis and other disasters.

Joe Campanella, co-chair with Nick Hippisley-Coxe of the inaugural Marina-Venice “Be Ready” Expo, said he was very gratified that so many people attended to gather information for the safety of their families and pets.

The expo included American Red Cross informational puppet shows for kids, as well as tsunami lectures and question-and-answer sessions by Dr. Aggeliki Barberopoulo. Over 70 people signed up for CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training at the expo, Campanella said.

“I have been living in California for eight years and it surprises me how most Californians, people who have lived in California their entire lives, are truly unprepared for a big disaster,” Campanella said.

“Most people think that during a disaster, if they call 911, emergency response personnel will show up, or they assume that they can drive down to the local hospital and check in. Here is a reality check from the Los Angeles Fire Department: ‘We are not coming for at least three to five days, and maybe more if we have a large enough disaster.’”

Campanella explained that in his local community of 685 townhomes in Villa Marina, residents decided to take disaster readiness into their own hands and started the Villa Marina Council Disaster Preparedness Committee. The group has two main goals – educating the community on disaster readiness and to be the first responders during a disaster, Campanella noted.

He said that over the last three years, the committee has enrolled over 80 people in the LAFD’s CERT program, which is free and teaches the basics of disaster readiness. Committee members have also enrolled in the American Red Cross Mass Sheltering and CPR classes to help complement the CERT training.

In continuing to educate their own neighborhood, the residents recognized that if their Westside neighbors weren’t prepared, they could put a strain on limitead resources, Campanella said. In an effort to better prepare the community for potential disasters, the committee partnered with Hippisley-Coxe, working with the Venice Neighborhood Council, to develop the first-ever Marina-Venice “Be Ready” Expo, he said.

“Our initial goal was to improve the readiness of a 100 people by giving them the content and tools to learn in a couple of hours, so that they may in turn save their own or other lives,” Campanella said.

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, whose 11th District includes Venice, attended the expo and told the audience, “I thought I was prepared for the ’94 (Northridge) earthquake, until that morning when I stepped out of bed barefoot and onto glass in the bathroom. I’ve made sure to have slip-on shoes next to my bed ever since.

“It’s important to have an emergency plan for both your home and neighborhood. One group of Mar Vista residents even created a list which identified the doctors and nurses on their street,” the councilman continued.

“I want to extend my sincere gratitude to the first responders with LAFD and LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) for all they do to keep my constituents safe.”

Rosendahl presented community service award certificates to the members of the expo committee.

The American Red Cross has disaster information available online at www.redcross.org.

The LAFD CERT team, which provides training classes for people interested in learning how to prepare for emergencies, and assists local law enforcement and fire departments during disasters, has information about its program and mission online atwww.lafd.org/cert.htm.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the LAPD were also on hand to answer questions on emergency preparedness and about starting Neighborhood Watch programs.

The Marina Sheriff’s station, responsible for the unincorporated Marina area of the county, is located at 13851 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey. The business number is (310) 482-6000.

The LAPD Pacific division’s geographical territory is divided into eight separate “basic car” areas, each managed by a senior lead officer (SLO). While the SLO is the primary point of contact, there are four additional points of contact to assist in resolving a crime or quality of life concerns. The Pacific senior lead officer can be reached at (310) 202-4515. The SLO/community relations supervisor is Sgt. Jeffery Merlo: (310) 202-4524, or 25811@lapd.lacity.org.

LAPD Pacific watch commanders can be reached at (310) 482-6334. The commanding officer of Pacific patrol is Lt. II Gary Walters, (310) 482-6310, and the commanding officer of Pacific area is Capt. Jon Peters, (310) 482-6310.

The Los Angeles Emergency Management Department and Emergency Network of Los Angeles (ENLA) provided informational pamphlets on topics that included building emergency kits and phone numbers to have on hand. Information, www.ReadyLA.org.

Sharon O’Rourke, a representative of The Gas Company, provided demonstrations on how to turn off gas meters for residences and apartment buildings, provided literature and discussed various programs with attendees. Information, www.socalgas.com/safety.

Marina Del Rey Hospital distributed a list of items to include in an emergency kit, and suggested that items for special needs be kept ready, such as wheelchair batteries, oxygen, catheters, medications, items/food for service animals. The hospital also recommended keeping a list of types and model numbers of medical devices being used, medications for special needs children, and making provisions for medications that require refrigeration. The hospital is at 4650 Lincoln Blvd. (emergency at Mindanao Way), Marina del Rey. Information, (310) 823-8911, or www.marinahospital.com.

The city of Los Angeles Animal Services DART (Department Air Rescue Team) is comprised of Los Angeles Animal Control officers trained for emergency rescue operations using helicopters and special equipment. A representative said the team is on call 24 hours a day and they are also trained to deal with equestrian emergencies and rescues. Information, www.laanimalservices.com.

Eugene Canzano of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) answered questions about electrical safety, fallen wires on vehicles, Mylar balloon hazards, and numerous other questions. Information, www.LADWP.com.

The California Department of Insurance handed out a booklet titled “Personal Planning Guide: Protect Yourself – Plan Ahead,” designed to help people keep insurance and other important information in one location in order to access important information in case of emergency. Information, www.insurance.ca.gov.

The county of Los Angeles Department of Mental Health provided literature on its programs for the local area, Service Area 5, for children up to 15 years old; those aged 16 to 25; adults and older adults aged 26 to 60 years plus; and a parent advocate. Information, http://dmh.lacounty.gov.

Other features of the expo included tours of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Halibut in which the crew explained its mission and responsibilities as part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Fire trucks from Los Angeles County Fire Department Marina del Rey Station #110 and LAFD Venice Station #63 were also on display and tours were provided.

B & B Hardware and More Prepared had displays of emergency tools and supply kits available.

Other information websites include:

County of Los Angeles Emergency Survival Guide, http://lacoa.org/PDF/EmergencySurvivalGuide-LowRes.pdf; and

Preparing for Emergencies: A Guide for People on Dialysis, www.kcercoalition.com/pdf/101501.pdf.

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