Local proclamations urge residents to aid neighbors during emergencies
The recent Tsunami in the Indian Ocean was a disaster beyond almost any magnitude the world has witnessed in modern times.
The chances of having a disaster of a similar magnitude occur in the mountain west may appear relatively remote. But there are things that could happen in the region, even locally, that could cause major disruption of infrastructure and lives.
In the last couple of years, government and citizens groups have been working to prepare Carbon County and local communities for incidents ranging from a major power outage to terrorist attacks and the aftermath.
But while major disasters could affect all residents, localized events like a car accident in a neighborhood, a person falling off a roof or someone having a health problem create trauma and crisis for the parties involved n the situations.
Whether an incident is localized or a major event in the region, the preparation of cities, towns, blocks within communities and neighborhoods is important. And the first step of preparation for neighborhoods is knowing about the people who reside on the street.
On some roads, the residents are life long friends. But on other streets, people hardly know anything about their neighbors.
In the next month, people who are planning emergency services as well as city and county governments are going to try to alleviate a bit of that distance.
What the organizers and officials are going to attempt to do is create a situation where, if a disaster occurs, particularly one that could be devastating enough to stretch emergency services thin, neighbors could help residents in need.
Price city recently passed a declaration making February neighbor to neighbor month. Following suit, other municipalities passed similar declarations.
The basic plan is to get neighbors to trade information so residents can assist one another in times of trouble, whether it be from a fall from a ladder or an earthquake that knocks out all the infrastructure in the area.
Recently, one man in a small community in the county was trying to get neighbors in his town organized to participate in the citizen emergency rescue team concept.
The man was told by one person in the neighborhood that he pays taxes for the fire or police department to help in emergency situations.Therefore, citizen programs were a waste of time.
However, even during normal times it takes some real doing to get emergency teams to a site of a problem as fast as is needed. Imagine if bridges in the county were gone, or there were hundreds of calls all at once for help during a major catastrophe?
Another problem neighbor to neighbor organizers are concerned with is the number of people with special needs in the community. According to county sources there are over 4200 people living in Carbon County with those kinds of needs. That means people with problems ranging from being paraplegic to those needing continual oxygen and many things in between exist all over the community. In a major emergency these people could be in real trouble and often neighbors have no idea the situation even exists.
Each year county dispatch gets hundreds of calls which bring emergency workers to homes just to pick people up who have fallen and can't get up. In a disaster, those workers would be stretched to their limits, yet neighbors could be there to help.
The problems that people have range from small to large. In some emergencies people are supposed to shut off the gas to their homes, yet many elderly people can't do that. Once again neighbors could help.
Soon forms to gather some specific and important information about neighbors on both the right and left of residents homes will be sent out from municipalities in the area. The forms ask about names and contact numbers, along with special needs the people might have, about school or work numbers and other information. Then it is hoped that neighbors will keep this information in an easily accessible place in case of an emergency.
All the forms will be sent to neighborhoods between Jan. 20 and Feb. 7.
For more information about this program and local emergency planning efforts residents can call 637-5010.