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Monday, October 8, 2018

By Chris Frost


Cutline: David Nester-Hurtaeo, along with his son Leonardo and wife Ruby get CPR training at the Disaster Preparedness. (Photo by Chris Frost)

The Oxnard Public Library parking lot was headquarters for the annual Disaster Preparedness Fair Sept. 29, which drew a large crowd looking for valuable information from area responders.

September is National Preparedness Month, and the Oxnard Fire Department played host to the event and made it an enjoyable day for kids of all ages while learning what to do if something happens.

Each booth offered valuable information and hands-on experience they can use.

American Medical Response/ Gold Coast Ambulance Paramedic Alexandria Gourley was teaching hands-only Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) which means compressions only.

“If you find someone down, you shake and shout (are you okay) and if not, you start compressions,” she said. “You do continuous compressions until help arrives, it’s super simple, no more mouth-to-mouth, and you try to save the heart and the brain.”

In the event of a disaster, she said the Ventura County Fire Department governs the 9-1-1 dispatchers and control the dispatching system, and there are plenty of responders along with CHP (California Highway Patrol) and other agencies that can also help.

“They’ll stack in line the most critical calls and dispatch ambulance, fire, and police,” Gourley said. “It’s not a first come, first serve; it’s the most to the least critical.”

She joined AMR for what she calls silly reasons.

“I grew up watching “ER,” and I fell in love with high-paced stress and organized chaos,” she said. “I grew up working at theme parks. I had an office job and didn’t do well sitting around doing paperwork and the bonus is you get to help people.”

Paramedic Sterling Johnson said Ventura County started a program called CAM (Cardiac Arrest Management) developed by doctors.

“They did a trial study and we find that if we can get doing compressions in the first four minutes, that when we get there, and we’re required by state regulations to be there within 5.5 minutes for basic, and 8.5 minutes for advanced life support, they have a better chance for survival than anywhere else in the state,” he said.

David Nester-Hurtaeo, his son Leonardo, and his wife Ruby got CPR training. David is a grad student in emergency management.

“I want my family to know what to do, I’ve done this before, but the fact that he (Leonardo) knows how to respond is big for me,” he said.

Ruby wants to be prepared for any natural disaster.

“We wanted to make sure the family knows what to do and teach our son the same things,” he said.

Junior Firefighter Leonardo enjoys learning things with his parents.

“If you get into a car accident, you call the police,” he said. 

Oxnard Fire Inspection Officer Brandon Sube was teaching people how to shut off utilities at your house in the event of an emergency.

“We’re also teaching people about smoke alarms and safety in general,” he said. “One of the things we are trying to do is public outreach to the community, so with fire prevention, our main goal is to help with fire safety in the city. We recently had a structure fire, so we are trying to increase the knowledge for the citizens of Oxnard.”

Joe O’Neill said his wife got him involved with CERT the Community Emergency Response Team.

“I have to admit, I’ve learned an awful lot,” he said. “Sometimes, on the back of the trucks I would see the diamond, and I never understood until I took the CERT program all the different flammables and what you do when you run into them.”

CERT Disaster Volunteer Charles Taylor was supervising children using an extinguisher to put out fires and said he’s been part of the organization for 12 years and teaches classes.

“Everybody has a job, and they assigned me to work on the fire extinguishing department,” he said. “I enjoy doing this, and some kids are showing an aptitude for the fire department. It's a great career choice.”

He loves meeting people and teaching them how to care for themselves.

“We all know, if you have a major fire, flood or earthquake, fire resources are so limited. You are going to have to take care of yourself, and we try to teach people to be self-sufficient,” he said.

Monik Gallardo came down from Oxnard College and had information for the attendees.

“We have information about how to prepare for a disaster and information regarding CPR, earthquakes, tsunamis,” she said. “If you have any questions you just ask us.”

She loves helping people and being an interpreter, which is her major at school.

“I got this opportunity from my professor, and I am thankful,” she said.

Animal Control Officer Drake Bays had lots of goodies for everybody.

“We have information about dogs, horses, and what to do in an emergency,” he said. “We need people with horse trailers.”

They also have information about what to do if they see a feral cat.

“We trap, neuter and return,” he said. “We’re also doing pet promotions, $10 pet adoptions and giving away free leashes and collars."

If a disaster strikes, Bays said animals get lost and are scared.

“We locate them and take them to the shelter, then we reunite them with their owners,” he said. “If they have a license tag, or an ID or a microchip we can use that to unite them with their owner."