The so far skinny on Portland NETs

If you haven't heard of the Portland Neighborhood Emergency Teams, it's because the program withered in a political tug-of-war about a decade ago, and is being resurrected as the threat of a hefty earthquake looms. Arbor Lodge is particularly light on NET volunteers, so I deployed to the first of seven Saturday trainings with my neighbor Angela March 16.

We hope to be among the first christened with a hardhat and vest on behalf of Arbor Lodge. Meanwhile, we'll have learned basic first-aid and crisis management skills to help first responders in an earthquake, flood, volcanic eruption, tsunami or other catastrophic event.

Oregonians have known since the '80s that the state is in line for a major earthquake. And a recent report by a panel of experts underscores how devastating such an event would be. That quake is about 40 percent likely to happen in the next 30 years. Portland NETs are beefing up to assist for this and other reasons, trained by Portland's Bureau of Emergency Management using FEMA's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) curriculum.

It's a lot to get prepared, both at home and in the neighborhood. This first class focused on what it is we're even preparing for. The three-hour session covered disasters facts until those of us who think we're smart were feeling pretty silly. Did you know volcanic ash can scratch steel? That it can weigh enough to crush a roof? That you should never store your emergency supplies in a basement? I sure didn't. Hopefully you're already smarter than me.

If you're super smart, then you're started on an emergency kit at home. For more ideas about how to round out your kit, have a look at prepareoregon.org. If you'd like to go further and help us prepare the neighborhood, please think about joining me, Angela and other neighbors as NET members. It requires 17 short videos and a quiz to qualify for training, then 21 hours of instruction and a four-hour field exercise. It's worth it, and its kind of fun. Now even I know what a Japanese shake table is.

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