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Photo by Pfc. M. Daniel Sanchez

Station emergency services promote family readiness

29 Sep 2006 | Pfc. M. Daniel Sanchez

Emergency response units from station participated in Yuma’s first Emergency Manager’s Outreach Program Preparedness Fair Sept. 29 at the Yuma Palms shopping center parking lot to promote family emergency readiness.

The station and local response units each setup static displays, comprised of unit-specific equipment and representatives to answer questions and to give local citizens an idea of the capabilities of Yuma’s emergency services.

The fair was set up as a way to end National Preparedness Month. National Preparedness month is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a way to promote family disaster preparedness among citizens by providing them with practical tips to be better prepared for disasters.

Yuma families have a responsibility to prepare for disasters as much as the emergency responders do, said Bill Tait, Yuma County emergency management director. But it is also important that Yuma citizens know the preparedness and response capabilities of their city.

The station Provost Marshals Office, Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting, Search and Rescue unit and the civilian fire department were among Yuma County’s emergency service departments to show off their stuff. PMO rolled out its big dog, the mobile command post, and also laid out a display of some of the different gear military police use. ARFF took
one of its fire trucks, a rescue van and also displayed the entire firefighting suit to the public.

The station fire department took out its hazardous material decontamination trailer. But the most popular display, especially among the children, was SAR’s rescue helicopter. The children piled into the aircraft for a chance to sit in the pilot seat and pretend to be Marine Corps pilots, while parents asked the crew questions about SAR. Two young boys even pretended to be fighter pilots, shooting at the enemy and saving the Marines.

This was a good way for the air station to show the public the Marines are ready to go out and provide as much support as the community needs, said Sgt. William Smith, SAR operations chief and native of Chicago. The Marines train hard to ensure they are ready to respond at a moment’s notice and make civilians and service members feel safe.

The goal of events like this is to show the public that the air station is ready, willing and able to work with local units whenever the need arises, said Earl Hamilton, station assistant security manager.

Even communities that have not been touched by disasters need to be prepared, because a disaster can come at any time without warning. However, people don’t need to buy meals ready to eat or have special survival gear.

Some practical things people can do to prepare for such emergencies are to put together a 72- hour emergency preparedness kit, said Tait. The kit should contain items like a three-day supply of non-perishable food, one gallon of water per day per person, battery operated radio and flashlight, extra batteries, first aid kit, blankets, medications, money, small tent, sleeping bags, matches, hygiene items, basic tools and important documents (insurance policies, bank accounts, identification cards).

This was a good opportunity for the base to show the community it’s here to help, said Capt. Khieem Jackson, SAR pilot and native of Los Angeles.

The air station has always been a good partner in the emergency response field, said Tait. It plays an integral part in helping the city prepare for situations that can and do arise. This event helped show the public that the air station is ready and available to respond at any time to protect Yuma’s citizens, said Tait.

“We really appreciate the Marines and all the help they give us,” said Tait. “These guys are worth their weight in gold and we look forward to working with them again.”

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