Today at work we had the first three-hour session of our 20-hour mandatory NERT training (yes, that’s a “T”). The AVC (associate vice chancellor) for our division has arranged for in-house training by the San Francisco Fire Department in what is, essentially, disaster preparedness. NERT stands for “Neighborhood Emergency Response Team” and aims at creating citizens who can be self-sufficient during a major disaster and potentially even to help as supporting members of emergency response teams; San Francisco doesn’t have the number of emergency professionals that would be needed in the event of a major disaster, so this effort counts on the ability of trained citizens to pitch in as possible and as appropriate.
Although the mandatory nature provided an immediate “groan” factor, and 20 hours does seem like a lot of time to be away from our desks over the next six weeks, and the first session was much too generic and focused on background information (pictures and descriptions of previous earthquakes, the history of NERT, etc.), I’m actually quite interested in the program. Even though intellectually I know the risk of experiencing a major earthquake here in my lifetime is almost a certainty, I’ve not done any real preparation since moving here in June. But there were moments today that were extremely sobering, and I’ve been practicing my “earthquake eyes” throughout the rest of the day–casing rooms I enter to see what would be the falling hazards, and what I’d use for shelter and protection–and am paying serious attention to the need to put together an emergency kit with sufficient water and food for us and Alex, and to develop a plan for where Jeff and I would meet, and how we’d try to keep in touch in case of an earthquake or other disaster during a work day, when I’m ten miles away from home.
I just hope that adorable Fireman Dan, our second facilitator, comes back week after week. T. Kevin: You’d have particularly loved him.
When we finish the training we get issued a yellow hardhat and orange mesh safety vest. Just imagine the roleplay possibilities.