Tigard turns its annual emergency preparedness lessons into an evening of fun

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Mary Bauman, left, and Julie Stack of CERT show patrons of the Tigard Emergency Preparedness Field Day how to properly turn off their utilities in case of an emergency.With live music, a free potluck and raffle prizes, passersby at Cook Park might have assumed last Friday night was one of several festivals going on throughout the summer.

But people were actually learning how to prepare for an emergency.

About 700 people headed down to Cook Park for the city of Tigard’s Emergency Preparedness Field Day. The festival was the city’s attempt to create a lively community activity.

“This will be the benchmark that I will have to try to surpass every year from now on,” said Mike Lueck, Tigard’s emergency management coordinator.

Partygoers learned how to handle themselves in several situations, including learning how to shut off gas lines in their homes, how to use HAM and two-way radios, packing sandbags and how to save someone when they fall into a river.

Members of the Tigard’s Citizen Emergency Response Team were on-hand teaching the hands-on demos along with local Boy Scout troops, Tigard police officers, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue crews and Portland General Electric representatives.

It was a change of pace for the city, which has held emergency preparedness days for the past three years.

Lueck said recent events, such as Hurricane Sandy, show how important it is to be prepared for emergency situations.

Other demos, like learning how to shut off the power to your house, are more practical.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Tigard Boy Scout Troop 843 was onhand at the Tigard Emergency Preparedness Field Day to show folks how to tie various safety knots.“That’s something you might use in your own home,” said Mary Bauman, a member of CERT since 2005. “It carries over to everyday life more than some big earthquake or Columbus Day Storm.”

Even a cursory knowledge is helpful.

“You don’t necessarily have to be an expert, but when it happens, you go, ‘Oh, I remember how to do that.’ You might not know every step to a tee, but if you have some awareness, you can feel better to perform under pressure.”

For 13-year-old Jacob Ibarra, it was all about being prepared. The Fowler Middle School student was one of several Boy Scouts teaching a course of water safety.

“If you are canoeing and the river is fast and someone falls out, they will float downstream,” he said. “Instead of swimming after them, where you likely won’t catch them or you could drown, you can throw a rope to them and pull them to shore.”

It’s the type of thing Ibarra said he hopes no one ever has to use, but it’s important to know.

In the past, the city has struggled to draw big crowds, Lueck said, but turning the event into a party and partnering with local churches to help spread the word, brought the crowds.

“I like to say that Tigard thinks outside the box,” Lueck said. “People could say they heard us from the other side of the river.”

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