KLA participates in Prepare the Way for Disaster Day
November 14, 2007 – Kern Leadership Alliance is mobilizing followers of Jesus to prepare our community for disaster. First Presbyterian Church, with the help of Kern Leadership Alliance, was ready to act as an overflow shelter during the city-wide “Prepare the Way for Disaster” Day exercise on Wednesday, November 14. The church campus rehearsed its ability to receive families in need of shelter, had nurses on site to evaluate medical needs and county health professionals available to assist those experiencing anxiety. This event implemented a portion of the Kern Leadership Alliance Emergency Response Plan created for churches. This plan helps congregational members help each other in times of disaster, prepares church sites to be used as shelters, and mobilizes members of churches to be equipped and prepared to be “the hands of Jesus” to others in times of distress.
Pastor Jeff Chandler began the day’s event by meeting with his staff to go over the plan before the simulated earthquake occurred at 9:00 a.m. Various duties such as checking on gas and water lines, securing other church buildings, and retrieving necessary equipment were handed out to each member before the event occurred. After the earthquake, church staff received a simulated call regarding the need to open an over-flow shelter.
Utilizing First Presbyterian’s gymnasium, Red Cross personnel arrived with cots and blankets to set up the mock shelter. Volunteers from First Presbyterian’s staff and congregation were used as victims arriving at the shelter site. The Department of Public Health sent two nurses to help assist with simulated medical concerns ranging from loss of medication to diabetic shock. Psychological help was made available to victims through the Department of Mental Health. Four representatives counseled several volunteers suffering from the trauma of the event. Scenarios varies from mothers without their children and families dealing with loss of life to varying degrees of sheer panic.
Today’s demonstration was deemed a success. Red Cross Program Director Steve Rodriguez announced to all involved that he was fully confindent we would have been able to handle a full-fledged shelter situation thanks to the Kern Leadership Alliance, Red Cross, Department of Public and Mental Health, CERT, and the staff of First Presbyterian Church.
Building on Wednesday’s trial run, Kern Leadership Alliance hopes to assist other congregations in the upcoming year in becoming prepared to help those in our community in times of disaster. We celebrate this successful first step on KLA’s Disaster and Emergency Response Committee, and applaud the ongoing work of team leaders John Nilon, Miles Muzio, and Connie Wattenbarger.
The effort to bring partnership between the faith community and existing government and emergency services first responders represents one way in which Kern Leadership Alliance engages followers of Jesus to work together for community transformation.