Last year, nearly 600 earthquakes hit my hometown of Reno in a ‘swarm’. Although the magnitudes of these quakes ranged from 2.5 to 3.7, the constant fear and anxiety of impending doom rose in the community. A disaster is unprecedented and unpredictable and, in our community, we always acknowledged their occurrence elsewhere but never fully admitted that a large-scale catastrophe may happen at our doorsteps.
Recognizing this unspoken apathy, I decided to take a step beyond my school club and get involved in the community chapter of the Reno Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services team. As I was learning the basics of preparedness i.e., general earthquake and fire safety drills, I realized that if a disaster were to strike, the majority of people in my community could not confidently say that they are prepared. As part of the DCS committee, it is my goal to increase the confidence of as many youths and families as possible.
During my training, I accompanied volunteers during the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, where we installed and updated smoke alarms and detectors in over thirty low-income households in the Reno area, free of charge. I began teaching the “Pillowcase Project” in local elementary schools, leading workshops in and instilling the importance of disaster preparedness for the youngest of children. Representing DCS on the Youth Executive Board for our local chapter, I also led a Youth in Disaster Services Seminar, where we trained young adults in CPR Certification as well as basic Shelter Fundamentals.
Through my work with the Red Cross, and in my interactions with survivors and rescuers who assisted during Hurricane Katrina, I’ve come to discover how teaching even just small preparedness procedures to individuals can help save entire communities. The impact of disaster services reverberates throughout our communities, both at home and internationally. It is a selfless, necessary job in which youth, as the future generation of an ever-changing disaster-prone world, must take urgent action.