Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rural character

Skills for self -reliance

Many people contend that they moved to Goochland for its rural character, a complicated concept.

One facet of rural character is the self-reliance of those who live a bit off the beaten path. That can take many forms, but in the most basic sense it means taking care of your household and pitching in to help neighbors in need.

For the most part, Central Virginia has moderate weather. Last winter was, hopefully, an aberration. Sometimes, however, our weather can be dangerous. Remember Hurricane Isabel in 2003? In a few short hours the beautiful trees that line our roads and dot the landscape became effective power line removal tools.

Along River Road trees and power lines were twisted into deadly heaps that took power crews many long days to untangle.

Did you take the lessons of Isabel to heart and stock up with supplies for days and maybe weeks without power? Once life got back to normal, did you give any thought to learning a few basic survival skills just in case?

Hazardous material spills that could occur on Interstate 64, Rt. 288 or the CSX tracks trace the James River on our southern border also pose a threat to our safety.

What exactly would you do if the power stayed off for months? What would you do if even more trees blocked roads so badly that first responders were unable to reach you for days?

Are you prepared to shelter in place for three days where you are right now?

How up to date are your first aid skills? Would you even have a clue how to help someone out from under a collapsed building if there was no one else to help?

Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT) training includes lessons on all of those skills and a few more.

The CERT concept originated in earthquake prone Japan and was adopted by Californians, who also feel the earth move on a regular basis.

Following the 911 attacks, interest in CERT moved east and became part of the Citizen Corps movement.

Goochland’s Citizen Corps was formed in 2004 and sponsored by the county’s Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). Many Citizen Corps members completed CERT training and help out during times of emergency.

Some Citizen Corps members have also completed additional training in operation of emergency shelters. They help man the county’s emergency shelter at the high school when it is opened to help those forced from their homes by bad weather or other adverse conditions.

An important component of Goochland’s emergency response capability is our local amateur radio group. They work closely with county emergency management officials to ensure that Goochland not lose touch. Radios and power supplies, funded by grants, have been deployed to each of the county’s six fire-rescue stations to be used by designated operators in emergency situations.

A four session CERT class will begin on Thursday June 3 at the Henley Fire-Rescue Training Center in Maidens. Two classes will meet on Thursday evenings and two Saturday sessions comprised of hands on practical exercises are part of the class.

Skills taught in the CERT class include: making a disaster kit; how to perform simple search and rescue; how to use a fire extinguisher; how to perform basic first aid;, how to work as a team during an emergency and how to help someone who is emotionally upset by the disaster.

Call 556-5304 for more information or to register.

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