The most transforming experience that occurred last month was my training in “disaster preparedness” at the first Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program in Ukiah.
I received this training with, and learned from members of FEMA─Federal Emergency Management Agency, MESA─Mendocino Emergency Services Authority speakers, and the Ukiah Fire Department (UFD) instructors.
This disaster preparedness training has been provided through the CERT. It has been made availabe by FEMA nationwide to 28 U.S. States as well as to Puerto Rico, since 1993. It educates and enables victims of major disasters to be self sustaining for a minimum of 72 hours─ during any major disaster. The CERT program is very new to Ukiah, and it educates participating citizens in a comfortable space ─at the fire station, for hazards that may impact their area. Participants receive training in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, tea m organization, and disaster medical operations. I am honored to have had the opportunity to participate in the CERT training and to have worked with so many dedicated teachers and heroes who made me better understand the Buddhist view of helping to promote love (selfless giving, cherishing lives) and harmony (with people, animals, and nature) during a disaster.
Before moving to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, I had attended public schools in Los Angeles, where I had survived the Whittier Narrows Earthquake (5.9 magnitude) in 1987 and the Loma Pieta Northridge Earthquake (7.0 magnitude) in 1989. I still remember how early the earthquake went off and how dark the light was in the morning. After two major earthquakes with many aftershocks, I had learned how to live through an earthquake routine. The basic thing to do was to constantly run out of the house (as quickly as possible) to the usual meeting place, the front yard with our neighbors and check if others were safe. Knowing very little about other survival skills as well as what needed to be done in the aftermath of a disaster, I planted an early seed (wish) in my mind, at age 14, to help out in community works for a while. It took me a very long time after college and enough guts later to quit my architecture job. When I finally did, and fulfilled my wish to serve at the CTTB campus and the education community at Mendocino County Office of Education (MCOE), I had the good fortune to meet with Jim Cline, Ukiah CERT team leader, who referred me to the first CERT class on April 4.
Most of my work revolves around architecture and computer technology, and I spend most of my days interacting with architects, designers, teachers and students. The CERT program helped me better understand the geographical and natural make-up surrounding the area where I live, from Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte, Sonoma and Lake Counties. This region serves 2 percent of the state’s students, yet it covers 10 percent of the state’s land area, and for the most part is rugged and remote. At least 16 hazards are identified by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services in this region. They include earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, landslides, flooding and wildfires.
I would like to encourage everyone to join this meaningful training to learn the basic disaster response knowledge and skills. While you learn how to protect yourself and your belongings, you actually are helping to reduce the damage of the community, the state and the nation. Besides, you will have qualified to help protect other beings’ lives and substances of this univers. Let’s expand our caring concern to all lives and resources in this universe and put it into action!