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Emergency Expo aims to prepare locals for disasters

Nearly 2,000 visit event to learn how to be prepared for disasters.

Posted: April 20, 2008 12:04 a.m.
Updated: June 21, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Search and Rescue Deputy Giron gives stickers to two young children during the Emergency Expo held Saturday at the College of the Canyons.

 
The nearly 2,000 visitors to the 2008 Emergency Expo wanted to learn one thing: How to prepare their home, family and pets for just about any type of disaster.

The 16th annual expo, sponsored by the city of Santa Clarita, brought in nearly 80 exhibitors to showcase their products, emergency kits and expertise.

Booths included representatives from insurance companies, city and county emergency departments and local water agencies.

While some mingled with the exhibitors, others toured Los Angeles County's mobile medical hospital, which featured 10 hospital beds and two operating room beds, participated in the earthquake simulator and met with a variety of first responders.

Donna Nuzzi, emergency services supervisor for the city of Santa Clarita, said the purpose of the expo was to give local residents a way to become better educated about disaster preparedness.

Nuzzi said this year's event had more vendors that offered animal services for pet owners and even one vendor that showed attendees the proper steps to shut off a home's gas valve.

The mobile hospital unit was also a new addition to the expo, Nuzzi said. Overall, Nuzzi said there was a 15 percent increase in the number of exhibitors at this year's expo, which she attributes to the event's growing reputation. It now attracts visitors from all over Southern California.

One of the expo attendees was Stephen Rhee, who came with his family to the expo for the first time to learn about disaster preparedness.

Although he considers himself to be "half-prepared" for an emergency, the Valencia resident was planning to find out more in order to become fully prepared.

At the city's Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) booth, Wade Reynolds of Valencia showed families how to properly use a fire extinguisher.

Reynolds, a CERT volunteer for three years, said he was inspired to begin the response training after seeing Hurricane Katrina's destruction and the amount of people who were unprepared during the 2005 natural disaster.

"CERT teaches you how to be a rescuer and not a victim," he said.

Nevertheless, Nuzzi hopes the expo will prompt local residents to think of ways they can prepare for a disaster.

"I wish people would step up their level of preparedness," she said, noting it is everyone's responsibility to make sure they are adequately aware of what to do in an emergency.

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