We’ll all need to help after a big disaster, local trainers say

At Monument Market, located on the eastern edge of Joshua Tree on Twentynine Palms Highway, the west wall pulled away from the rest of the building and leaned against the retaining wall. The market was already closed after an April earthquake.

MORONGO BASIN — To locals concerned with emergency preparedness, the 6.4 and 7.1 earthquakes last week in the Trona and Ridgecrest areas should be wake-up calls.

“This swarm of earthquakes and disasters brings to the forefront the need for every church, organization, group, club, etc. to become a member of the Morongo Basin COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disasters), Marjorie Smith said via email Monday.

“To be effective in time of emergency and chaos, resources and talents need to be identified now.”

The Morongo Basin COAD is a coalition of groups ready to help people recover in neighborhoods affected by disasters. After a storm flooded parts of Joshua Tree in October 2018, COAD volunteers delivered cleaning kits and trash bins and helped residents dig out of their damaged homes.

The county Office of Emergency Services can deploy COAD volunteers as needed.

They train and prepare to help in several areas, according to Smith:

•Transportation of people, animals and supplies.

•Communication, including managing call centers and providing language interpreters.

•Debris removal.

•Feeding, sheltering.

•Child care.

•Animal care.

Smith urges everyone involved with a club, church or other group to join the effort.

“Please meet with your organization and group members and determine what resource or talent or number of volunteers you would be able to provide in time of a disaster,” she said.

For example, members might be able to loan horse trailers or four-wheel drive vehicles. Others may have food handler licenses or speak other languages and be able to volunteer their talents. A business or church might commit to let responders use its parking lot to stage equipment or its facilities as a kitchen.

For more information, email Smith at splashm1@aol.com.

Team trains civilians to be first responders

The Morongo Basin Community Emergency Response Team trains civilians on how to respond to disasters. Card-carrying members have passed the team’s nine-week hands-on course, two online FEMA courses and a background check with the Office of Homeland Security.

“Our intent is to get as many people trained as we can, because the more are trained, the fewer we have to worry about,” said volunteer coordinator Carl Angdahl.

After a disaster like an earthquake, the county Office of Emergency Services or a local fire captain calls Angdahl to activate the team.

“Our slogan is to do the greatest good for the greatest number,” Angdahl said. “Once we’re activated, our function is to do whatever we can until the proper authorities arrive.”

One of the founding ideas behind CERT is that after a big disaster, first responders like firefighters and paramedics will be inundated with work. CERT trains civilians to help each other until emergency responders arrive.

Teammates are trained in emergency first aid like how to control bleeding and immobilize injured limbs. They do light search and rescue, triage and small fire response. “And if we need to get someone out of an area, we are trained to do that,” Angdahl said.

Anyone may take the free CERT course to learn how to help themselves and their loved ones and neighbors after a disaster. The next course will begin Aug. 1 and be held Thursday nights for nine weeks. The team is also trying to set up a Saturday class that will start Aug. 31.

“It’s worth it, it really is,” said Angdahl.

For information, visit morongobasincert.org.

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