SCOPE trains people for next quake
The recent spate of natural disasters has apparently encouraged more Valley residents to look into the SCOPE program.
SCOPE stands for Sonoma Citizens Organized to Prepare for Emergencies.
Friday, at Vintage House senior center, Capt. Joe Morrison, SCOPE program director with the Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue Authority, told more than 60 Valley residents how to prepare - and more importantly how to organize their neighborhood - for the next earthquake.
In the past year-and-a-half, Morrison has been telling people about SCOPE and figures he's seen more than 1,000 people in those meetings. Program coordinators even conducted their first organizational meeting in Spanish last week at the request of Nuestra Voz.
And so far, they've helped organize seven different neighborhoods including all of Temelec, Seven Flags and Creekside.
"It's easier to organize mobile-home parks and homeowners associations," Morrison said.
The object of SCOPE is for neighbors to get together in 10-to-20 house areas, take a census that includes the number of people in a residence and whether or not anyone has special skills or special equipment, the location of the water and gas shut-offs and specific fire dangers such as wood shingle roofs. More importantly, groups set up a meeting spot for people to congregate after a disaster.
A team leader is elected to make the rounds after a natural disaster to see what the needs might be in the neighborhood and then calls the Emergency Operations Center with an assessment as to whether or not there are people trapped, injured, structures on fire and the like, so the OES isn't flooded with calls.
Morrison said that when a natural disaster does strike, all 9-1-1 landline calls in the Valley will automatically be routed to the OES.
"After a disaster, we don't drive around looking," he said. "We wait for calls. The group leader calls in with situational reports such as injuries or fires."
Another aspect of disasters has to do with people and their pets.
"We learned a lot from (Hurricane) Katrina," he said. "People didn't want to abandon their pets and they had to find shelters that would allow pets."
Friday's meeting came less than a month after the quake and tsunami in Japan and almost on top of the tornado outbreak in the southeast part of the country. Morrison said there was a meeting right after the San Bruno gas line explosion that was equally well-attended.
"The idea is to be prepared," Morrison said. "We have a big coverage area."
He pointed out that in the event of a large quake, it may take the Red Cross and other agencies from Santa Rosa three or more days to get to the Valley.
"We have to fend for ourselves," he said. "We need to prepare for 72 hours."
Morrison said if neighborhoods want to organize, the fire department will come out and help them organize. "We don't just do the training and say, 'You're on your own.'"
People wanting more information about SCOPE can contact Morrison at 996-2102, ext. 305, or email joem@SVFRA.org.