Triplicate Staff

Supply points, debris handling topics of classes

Better to be trained before than after on how to work with emergency and disaster response officials when a tsunami, earthquake, wildfire or other disaster strikes.

Federal and state disaster response agencies will be holding two free trainings this week, one on distributing emergency supplies and the other on debris management, skills that will be vital for community members to know in order for Del Norte County to have a quick and efficient recovery after a disaster.

On Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Crescent Fire Protection District, there will be a training session on how to operate a "point of distribution," or POD.

In the event of a disaster, PODs will be used to distribute supplies like food, water, medical supplies and temporary shelters, but communities are expected to run the PODs themselves at least for the first few days after the catastrophe.

The California Air National Guard recently conducted a practice landing at Ward Field in Gasquet using a CH-47 Chinook helicopter to demonstrate the aircraft that would likely be used to bring in supplies to a POD.

"PODs are the direst of tactics. There's nothing left. The only time you're opening a POD is because the stores are broken or the supply chain that normally feeds you is broken and you can't get it in," said Mark Ackerman, of FEMA Region IX, during the helicopter drill. "What we all will do is establish an emergency supply chain."

Emergency officials emphasized how important it would be for a community to be able to handle the distribution of goods on its own so that a helicopter carrying supplies could essentially drop and go.

Thursday's training will provide the knowledge needed for POD volunteers to work with state and federal emergency officials in the event of a disaster.

Debris management

One of the highest costs associated with large-scale disasters is the handling of debris created by destructive forces like tsunamis and earthquakes.

The California Office of Emergency Services will hold a training session from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesday at the Crescent Fire Protection District to show how to identify various disaster-related debris issues, discuss possible solutions, and provide additional related information and guidance for successful debris management operations.

Disaster debris can pose an immediate public health and safety concern, hinder response and recovery time and, when handled improperly, it can add tremendous costs to a recovery operation.

Data compiled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency revealed that debris management costs are as much as 40 percent of the total disaster dollar amount nationwide.

For more information on either training, contact Del Norte County Emergency Services Manager Cindy Henderson at 954-8775.