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September marks National Preparedness Month

Sutter Roseville's emergency preparedness coordinator offers advice for staying safe
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Erik Angle is the guy who plans for the worst-case scenario. He makes a living doing so, as the emergency preparedness coordinator for Sutter Roseville Medical Center. This means he organizes disaster policies and drills, educates his coworkers and does public outreach about emergencies. “The big thing is to plan ahead,” Angle said. “I have a motto: Prepare today to stay safe tomorrow.” His advice comes at just the right time as President Barack Obama recently proclaimed September National Preparedness Month to stress the importance of systematically preparing for hazards threatening the United States in the 21st century, including natural disasters, cyber attacks, pandemic disease and bioterrorism. “This year marks the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, one of the most tragic and destructive disasters in American history,” Obama said in his proclamation. “In remembrance of this national tragedy, we must reaffirm our commitment to readiness and the necessity of preparedness.” Obama and Angle agree: People must take concrete actions to protect themselves from risks. Angle started as an Emergency Medical Technician 18 years ago. He later worked as an emergency room nurse before becoming an EMS, Trauma and Emergency Management Coordinator for Sutter. Through the years, he’s orchestrated multiple disaster exercises and assisted in actual disaster incident responses. He’s learned the true meaning behind his motto. The problem, though, is too many people don’t recognize that experiencing a disaster is always a possibility. The 2009 FEMA Citizen Corps National Survey found that only 40 percent of Americans believe there is a high likelihood of a natural disaster to ever occur in their community. “You never know what’s going to happen,” Angle said. “Look what just happened in the Bay Area.” He’s referring to the natural gas pipeline explosion that caused a fire to rip through a neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif. killing at least four people and destroying or damaging dozens of houses. In cases such as this one, local and state authorities may not be able to reach individuals right away — therefore it’s important to prepare for those first 72 to 96 hours before help arrives. Being ready also alleviates the burden on local hospitals. “We want you to be able to care for yourself and your family, instead of reporting to a hospital that is already going to be heavily impacted,” Angle said. A person should first check with the local Office of Emergency Services to determine risks in the area, such as flooding, snow storms, earthquakes, hurricanes or other natural disasters. Angle said Placer County residents are mainly at risk for flooding, wildfires and inclement weather. Next, assemble a preparedness kit, including food, First Aid kit, clean water, telephone contact information, batteries and other supplies. A family should devise a plan so all members know what to do in an emergency. Make sure children know where to find food or supplies. Create an emergency call list so family members know who to call as a check-in point. Families should establish a meet-up place, so everyone knows where to go if their home has been evacuated. The Citizen Corps survey found that 44 percent of respondents have a household emergency plan that included instructions about where to go and what to do in the event of a disaster. Don’t forget to figure out what to do with your pets should disaster strike. And, finally, get your neighbors involved in the planning process. “Plan with the community,” Angle said. “It brings the community together and if something does happen, you can support each other.” Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- Tips for assembling a preparedness kit: · Plan for the types of disasters that can happen in the area where you live · Create a personalized Emergency Supply Kit. Choose the essentials to fit your needs and your pet’s needs. Remember to keep supplies at work and in your car. · Assemble a three-day supply of food for each family member · Store a three-day supply of clean water for each family member in safe containers and make sure water containers are disinfected and airtight · Assemble kitchen supplies such as a manual can opener, flashlights and batteries, disposable plates and utensils, a utility knife, salt, sugar, plastic baggies and aluminum foil · Include a First Aid kit, portable radio or TV with batteries · Update emergency contact records to ensure you have accurate records of family, friends and neighbors · Review your homeowners or renters insurance policy annually and make any necessary changes to ensure your coverage will be sufficient in the event of a disaster