New Disaster Readiness Program in the Works

Volunteers will be taught by the American Red Cross and then spread important disaster preparedness tips to others in the community.

North Hollywood will be the pilot community for a disaster preparedness program involving collaboration between the American Red Cross and the Los Angeles Police Department.

Prepare SoCal is a Red Cross program designed to offer tips and resources on how to be ready for the next big natural disaster, but now the nonprofit will be training volunteers in the community to spread that knowledge to others.

"They're going to train the trainers," said Ron Dresher, chairman of membership and outreach of the local Community Police Advisory Board, who announced the new program at last Thursday's board meeting.

Dresher, who also serves on a Red Cross advisory board, played a role in launching a dialogue between the nonprofit and the police.

The entire advisory board will be trained by Red Cross reprentatives, who will then head into the community and train other residents, he said.

"We'll talk to neighborhood watches, schools, churches, synagogues homeowners associations, anything that makes sense to get prepared for the next big one or the next natural disaster so people aren't panicking," Dresher said.

Drescher said some of the tips he looks forward to passing on including have a supply list consisting of items that are "obvious and not-so-obvious" as well as how to cook food without access to a gas stove.

He added that people would also learn how to take an inventory of their neighbors to see who's a doctor, plumber or any other profession that may be useful in the event of an emergency.

Local senior lead officers will also be trained, but they would also play the role of spreading word of the program to their many connections in the community, Drescher said.

He said he expects to start training people in North Hollywood in about two months and if successful, the program would take about three years to expand to all of LAPD's 21 divisions.

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