A coalition of more than 20 local emergency response and healthcare organizations will be conducting a disaster response drill in Encino Park on Sunday, October 8 from 8 am to 1 pm.
Residents neighboring Encino Park, bordered by Ventura Boulevard and Genesta, Addison and Paso Robles Avenues, are being alerted via flyers to drill activities so as not to be startled.
“This is a practice drill, however we will be striving for realistic conditions,” said Susan DuBrin, Sherman Oaks/Encino Chamber of Commerce Disaster Preparedness Committee co-chair. ”We are telling nearby residents not to be alarmed if they see pretend victims or life-like training for emergency services taking place. We are coordinating with Encino, Sherman Oaks and Cedars Sinai Tarzana hospitals to help test their communications process.”
DuBrin said organizers are also seeking volunteers to serve as mock victims and assistants. “We will be providing certification for community service hours,” she confirmed. DuBrin said those interested in volunteering can register at eventbrite.com/e/encino-california-disaster-response-drill-tickets-695567229307?aff=ebdssbdestsearch.
Among the participants are Sherman Oaks Hospital, Encino Hospital & Medical Center, Providence Cedars Sinai Tarzana Medical Center, Los Angeles City Fire Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department, Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, Encino Neighborhood Council, LA Recreation & Parks Department, Sherman Oaks/Encino Chamber of Commerce, LAFD Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and the offices of Assembly Member Jesse Gabriel and LA City Council Member Nithya Raman.
“Climate change means more severe weather challenges and together with earthquake, flooding, power outages and fire hazards, there are risks every day of the year. For Los Angeles residents, these can happen where we work, live or travel,” said Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) Captain and Disaster Preparedness Officer Rico Gross. “The drill provides an excellent opportunity to practice together how to protect ourselves, so we can save lives and prevent disasters from becoming catastrophes.” Gross serves in the LAFD’s Homeland Security Division as a liaison to partner agencies and oversees LAFD’s CERT program.
“Establishing communications with our community partners and educating the community on disaster preparedness is crucial so that hospitals are not overburdened during a large event,” said Andrew Ward, Emergency Preparedness manager for Providence Saint Joseph, Holy Cross, and Cedars Sinai Tarzana. “As part of the LA County Disaster Resource Center Program, we regularly drill with neighboring hospitals, public safety agencies and participate in community events such as this.”
Planners advise that there will be no public parking on Paso Robles Avenue from 8 am until 1 pm but otherwise streets bordering the park will be open to traffic.
“Since coordinating emergency services and communications is critical to responders during a disaster, the exercise will help test our abilities and train our volunteers,” said Los Angeles Fire Department/CERT Valley Bureau Coordinator Christy Adair. “The event is open to the public and there will be free handouts, supplies, valuable information and resources.”
According to Los Angeles County Fire Department Community Services Liaison Megan Currier, NOAA emergency radios, a $40 value, will be given to the first 200 registrants. The radios receive seven National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) channels with flood, tornado, thunderstorm, and other crisis warnings as well as a 90-decibel siren, voice alert, flashing LED warning system, built-in clock and cell phone charger port. Most NOAA weather radios utilize Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) which allows users to monitor official watches and warnings that affect only their county area and screen out any warnings issued for other counties within a 40-mile broadcast range.
“Residents can go to bit.ly/LACORadio7 to sign up for the radios. The deadline for registration is October 5 and radios will only be available to registrants,” explained Currier. “There will also be many city and county agencies and services on hand to provide information and free materials. It’s a great opportunity to observe, learn and obtain useful items.”
“The training on October 8 is for us to be better prepared for the community,” DuBrin said. “But just as important as it is for us to be prepared, it’s as important for the community to be prepared with us.”