Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Post National Night Out...Q and A!

On Tuesday August 7th,  I had the privilege  of representing CRESA at National Night out in Ridgfield.  To start off, National Night Out Against Crime was started nationally in 1984 as a way for communities to come together and strengthen participation in local anti crime prevention. It is held annually across the country the 1st Tuesday in August.  Ridgefield has been particpating well over ten years now. The events have grown over the years to be much more of a community "get to know your neighbor"  BBQ. 

 CRESA believes strongly in being a community partner and in the importance of communities coming together not only to standing up to crimnal activity but coming together to help one another in times emergencies.  As the Emergency Services Agency in Clark County responsible for handling 9-1-1 calls, dispatching First Responders,and speerheading  preparedness outreach within the county National Night Out is the perfect type of event for us to partner with to share information.

As I shared information with those that I had the pleasure to meet in Ridgefield, I noticed a common thread in the questions most frequently asked.  With that I thought it may be helpful to share and answer some of the most commonly asked questions.

"When should I call 9-1-1?"
Please remember that 9-1-1 is an emergency number and should only be used in an emregency.  Call 9-1-1 for:

  • If your house is on Fire                       
  • If someone passed out
  • Is someone not breathing                    
  • If someone is hurting someone else
  • If someone has chest pain              
  • If someone is stealing
  • If someone is seriously burned
  • If there is a car accident
  • If someone breaks a bone                 
  • If someone is bleeding and it wont stop

When you call for something else, someone might not be able to get through in a real emergency.  Please do not use 9-1-1 for items like:
  • for information    
  • for your pet
  • when the power is out                         
  • when a water pipe busts
  • to  report a broken fire hydrant            
  • to get a ride for a doctor's appointment
  • to pay a ticket                                     
  • as a prank

"What are the actual hazards of someone living  in Clark County?" 
This is actually a longer list than most may think about, but certainly living here in the Pacific Northwest, we face both natural and man-made hazards that could create emergency situations.  They include but are not limited to:

  • Severe Weather Storms
  • Tornados
  • Earthquake
  • Volcanic/Ash Eruption .
  • Hazardous Material spills (I-5 Corridor, Railroads, and River Traffic)
  • Civil disturbance
  • Airplane crash. 
 Though some of these are potentially lower risks than others, preparing an "All-Hazard" Supply kit can bring a peace of mind for whatever situation might develop within the area.

"What are my evacuation routes?" 
Knowing at least three ways out is critical in the event you may need to evacuate during an emergency.  Many of us have been through fire drills during our lifetimes, where when the alarm sounds, we quietly get up and exit the building consistently the same way.  When I was a Firechief back in Montana helping with these drills,  I  created a cardboard cutout that looked like fire, and place it in front of one of the doors.  I was amazed at how easily, even during a drill people were confused about where they should go when their normal route to exit was blocked. Knowing an alternate route in case a road is closed can be critical in your fmailies plan.

"What should I have in my emergency Supply kit?"
Of course there are some basic items each of us should have in our emergency supply kits, from 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days, non-perishable (or food that does not need to be cooked) for everyone in your household, medications, important documents, and the list could go on.  FEMA has created a great list of some items to consider in creating your own kit. This list may look overwhelming when you look at it all at once, but if you break it down, it can be achiveable.  CRESA has even created a fun Challenge, "30 Days, 30 Ways" to help get prepared.  This challenge kicks off during the month of September each year.

"What is CRESA?"
Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA) is a regional public safety agency that provides 9-1-1 dispatch, technology services, emergency management, and ambulance contract oversight for Emergency Medical Service 's. CRESA's service area includes each of the seven cities within Clark County - Battle Ground, Camas, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and Yacolt - as well as the unincorporated areas of the county.  In a nutshell we are the agency you call when you need help.  Our job is to Communicate, Coordinate, and Connect the proper response you need when you need help or when emergencies strike. 

Through conversations that centered around many of the questions above, one common point I found out was that many people are unaware of the importance of registering their cell phones.  In an age when for many the only phone they have is a cell phone, they are unaware that we cannot reach them by Reverse or Enhanced 9-1-1 if needed.  Many times if an emergency develops, Emergency services will send out alerts warning those in the area of the potential danger.  Without registering your cell phone to your current address, you will not recieve those critical alerts.  It is quick and easy to register your cell phone. 

National Night Out Ridgefield was a great community event and I hope that  some of the responses to questions there may help answer some of your questions! 

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