By Scott Prater
The recent powerful and destructive earthquakes, which have wreaked havoc along the western hemisphere serve as a stark reminder that disaster can strike anywhere at a moment’s notice and leave unprepared communities in desperate straits.
Organizers at Schriever have been planning an emergency information event for more than six months, so timing of the Emergency Preparedness Seminar, March 13 at the fitness center, is purely coincidence. The seminar is the first of three large events the base will produce in recognition of the Year of the Air Force Family.
Presented by Schriever’s Youth Programs and funded by a grant from the Air Force, the seminar represents the first emergency preparedness event ever held on the base.
“We are partnering up with the American Red Cross (Pikes Peak Chapter), the Colorado State Patrol and Schriever’s own Emergency Management Flight to inform seminar attendees on how to prepare for disasters or any other type of emergency that could arise,” said community readiness consultant Christina Ruetz. “How would we respond in the event of a tornado, earthquake or other major disaster?”
Starting at 10 a.m., the two-hour event will feature educational speakers from four emergency responding organizations. Anyone can attend and organizers are especially hopeful that spouses of deployed Airman and Schriever housing-area residents will sit in to hear the speakers.
The first 60 people to register for the event with the Airman and Family Readiness Center will receive a free Red Cross emergency preparedness kit, which includes a backpack filled with a flashlight, radio, blanket, breathing mask, plastic sheeting, a personal hygiene kit, a first aid and emergency preparation guide, duct tape, a whistle, food to last three days and a personal first aid kit.
“The Red Cross is the go-to organization for any type of natural disaster,” Ms. Ruetz said. “They work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and all of the other emergency management organizations in the community, so they know where all of the shelters are and they are the people who respond first.”
The Red Cross will present attendees with information about family emergency planning, emergency pet care, and vehicle weatherization. The state patrol representative will then discuss his or her experiences while responding to emergencies throughout our community and the best tips for how people can prepare for those same scenarios.
Tech. Sgt. Richard Rude will represent Schriever’s Emergency Management Flight and speak about the base’s emergency preparedness program, called “Are You Ready.”
“My main objective is to inform personnel how to prepare themselves during all possible hazards (man-made and natural) in the local area,” he said. “The ‘Are You Ready’ video game is designed to educate the base populace, to include dependents, on threats that are probable in Colorado. This fun approach helps educate personnel without using the formal lecture technique.”
Following his speech, Sergeant Rude and members of the Emergency Management Flight will be available to answer questions.
The Red Cross will also bring certified therapy dogs and their handlers to the seminar.
“Animals are very therapeutic, especially when people are sad or depressed or sick,” Ms. Ruetz said. “The handlers will be here to show how therapeutic, relaxing and calming the therapy dogs can be during distressed situations.”
In all, the seminar should leave attendees better prepared and confident that they’ll know what to do if a disaster or emergency situation should occur in the area.
“I think a lot of times how you think you would react and how you actually react in emergency type situations can be very different,” Ms. Ruetz said. “So the more people can learn about proper procedures and protocol, what is established in the community for us to be aware of makes us more ready for anything we could face. Being prepared by attending something like this seminar is a great thing people can do for themselves and their families.”