Emergency preparedness event a success

August 18, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

Organizers, agency representatives and attendees said a Saturday event that included workshops on topics ranging from family disaster kits to chemical safety went so well it should be provided at least annually.

About 300 people attended Saturday's Citizens' Emergency Preparedness Day at Robinwood Medical Center, said organizer Verna Brown, Emergency Management Agency coordinator. The event was a spinoff of President Bush's call for communities to be prepared for emergencies.

Seminars were presented by organizations that work together during emergencies, including the American Red Cross, the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association and Washington County Special Operations, Brown said.


Some of the people attending the workshops asked for them to be offered quarterly, Brown said.

Joe Kroboth, Washington County emergency services director, said the event will probably be held next during a different season. The turnout on Saturday would probably have been higher if the event was not held during the summer, when some are away on vacation, he said.

The event is a great way to get information to the community, said Cindy Blackstock Kline, director of emergency services for the Red Cross in Washington County. She taught a workshop on what families should include in a disaster kit. The organization also taught workshops on first aid and CPR - cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Richard Gilbert, a Hagerstown Fire Department firefighter, led a workshop on fire safety.

He said the most common cause of fire is unattended cooking. He said people should keep baking soda - not flour as some recommend - in their kitchen for extinguishing grease fires.

Gilbert encouraged everyone to make sure their smoke detectors work. About 20 percent of battery detectors aren't operational, he said.

Nicole Vere, 10, said she and her family came to the event because she wanted them to be better prepared in case there is a disaster.

About 10 members of a Boy Scouts troop from Chewsville attended several of the workshops while their scoutmaster, David Biser, attended a CPR class.

The workshops will help the Scouts earn merit badges and increase their ability to contribute to society, Biser said.

In addition to the workshops, the event included a community volunteer recruitment drive. Various organizations had tables containing information about the groups.

By noon six people had picked up applications to become volunteers for the Emergency Management Agency, said community volunteer Annajean McKnight.

Nearby, Hagerstown Police Lt. Margaret Kline distributed information about Neighborhoods First community groups.

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