Monday, May 2, 2011

A Community that Plans Together...

...Survives together. This weekend I was reminded of the importance of community. Not that I had really forgotten. I have been a member of the North Orange County League of Women Voters for years and they represent the ultimate in community activism and participation in those political activities that make a difference to your every day life. This weekend, however, I finished the last segment of a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) course offered by the cities of Brea and Placentia. The concept is simple – give ordinary citizens some basic skills in emergency response so that they can be valuable resources in times of crisis.

When I looked around at my fellow students, I felt some really deep satisfaction. These are people who live in my city, perhaps close by, and are willing to pitch in and help themselves and others around them when the time comes. Now WHEN that time comes, is never known, but when it DOES come, they have a leg up on how to make the best of it.

In some ways, it was more like a fun family reunion for that final day than something that takes away eight hours of a Saturday. We watched an interesting video on the miraculous survival of that 1989 plane crash in Iowa (all due to PRACTICING for a disaster!), then participated in a hands-on exercise to find “victims” of an earthquake, triage and rescue them. And, just like all authentic family get-togethers, we had a delicious potluck, an amazing array of great food, courtesy of us CERT students.

And this is how communities survive. We learn important things, we plan and practice, we communicate and share things (especially food!) – all of which builds a community capable of assembling itself in times of disaster.

It’s a great comfort knowing that there are other like-minded people in my neighborhood, who, regardless of their physical abilities, are mentally prepared to be there and help me when I need it most.

Thank you, neighbor.

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