Photo by Bernard Falkin. Click photo above for a large, hi-res version.
Press Release – Lake Balboa, California – October 5, 2008
When the ‘Big One’ comes, Lake Balboa will be prepared. Almost one hundred fifty citizens made Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley safer this Sunday when LAFD CERT Commander Stacy Gerlich graduated the city’s largest class ever of Community Emergency Response Team Trainees. “Awesome! This is why I love my career! It’s about the people! The passion and drive they have to be better prepared and more of a community,” said Capt. Gerlich.
The graduation was held at Lake Balboa Studios after over 17 hours of training in leadership, coordination, triage, disaster psychology, search & rescue, and emergency medical response. “Los Angeles fire, police, and medical agencies will be busy handling the largest problems associated with a wide scale disaster,” said event coordinator Linda Pruett. “We will be on our own in our neighborhoods for the first 72 hours, at least – probably longer – and we want to make a difference. Thank goodness we are preparing now.”
And the pull to protect our neighborhoods seems to be universal. Ages 13 to 70+ were represented, with a contingent of over sixty LAPD Explorer Scouts from Van Nuys, Foothill, Pacific and Hollenbeck divisions participating. Ms. Pruett related the excitement of the new graduates, “We really appreciate the opportunity to learn how to protect our own families and neighborhoods”, they told me. “Now we feel we can help our own community prepare, and to recover more quickly.”
Lake Balboa led Southern California in community preparedness when its Neighborhood Council supplied an entire year’s $50,000 budget to purchase two Emergency Response Command Centers with supplies, which should be delivered by the end of October. Pruett continued, “This council has made a huge commitment to train, equip, support, and activate its stakeholders when the next big temblor, and any other manmade or natural disaster strikes. And these CERT responders have just begun their journey with many other emergency preparedness trainings being offered throughout Los Angeles, including a refresher for all CERT graduates at LAFD Fire Station 88 in Sherman Oaks on November 16, 2008.”