ARE YOU READY? In 1994 when the Northridge earthquake occurred even medical facilities were not exempt from damage. Associated Press File photo
Public Education Initiative Urges Angelenos to
“Know Your Neighbors. Plan Together. Be Ready.”
If a major disaster such as an earthquake, flood, wild fire or terrorist attack was to strike your region would you be prepared?
Many would like to think that such first responders as the fire department, police, federal assistance would be right there for immediate aid, but past experiences are strong indicators that such public assistance may not be available in a timely manner.
Remember Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, Katrina in the South and here in Southern California where the greatest earthquake in our history occurred in 1857 measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale.
The damage back then was not nearly what it would be today, because Southern California was sparsely populated.
The effects of a quake are quite dramatic, even frightening. The magnitude 6.7 Northridge Earthquake struck at 4: 31 a.m. on January 17, 1994. It caused 57 deaths and a FEMA-estimated $40 billion in property damage. An estimated 12,000 people were injured, and 100,000 structures were damaged. More than 600,000 individuals applied for disaster assistance.
Many experts have been predicting for years that Los Angeles is primed for the ‘Big One’ and while no one can accurately predict when or if a major earthquake will occur, it is important to know that the real first responder to such occasion will have to be YOU!
Whether it occurs in the form of fires, windstorms, earthquakes, and floods… when you live in Los Angeles County, you know emergencies do happen. However, the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health (LAC DPH) wants everyone to be ready.
Experience and research from recent disasters have shown that close-knit communities survive better than others during emergencies and recover more quickly afterward.
Therefore, the LAC DPH currently is rolling out its Los Angeles County Community Disaster Preparedness (LACCDP) campaign throughout LA County, urging community members to “Know Your Neighbors. Plan Together. Be Ready.”
“It’s an important – potentially life-saving – first step,” asserts Dr. Alonzo Plough, Ph.D., M.P.H., Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “Regardless of the type of emergency you may face or where you live, it’s important to know your neighbors because: (1) emergency response teams may be delayed because they and their families may also be impacted; (2) your neighbors may be the first ones who can help; and (3) they know where you live and will have a better idea of what you might need.”
Roll out of the multi-lingual campaign (English, Spanish, Korean and Mandarin) is being supported by:
A dedicated website - bereadyla.org
Also, community events are taking place across LA County at shopping malls and other popular, accessible community gathering places (visit bereadyla.org for calendar updates)
Key to the program’s implementation, LAC DPH is partnering with 16 diverse communities throughout the county to determine together which emergency preparedness approaches, strategies, materials and other resources will work best.
The project is a collaborative, grass-roots effort to engage community-based organizations to provide leadership that will improve community resilience – the ability of communities and the people who live there to prepare for, respond to and recover – in the event of emergencies and natural disasters. It is part of a three-year community engagement pilot program funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launched this year in response to a March 2011 directive from President Obama to embrace a community resilience approach.
The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more about Public Health and the work we do, please visit bereadyla.org