University of California-Berkeley prepare for the Big One

Published 6 February 2009

Cal students train in disaster response and are equipped with the supplies that are necessary to help

Back in the day, Berkeley, California, was at the forefront of many things we would not want to tell our mothers about. Times change, and now Berkeley is at the forefront of trying to mitigate earthquake damage rather than just responding passively to what many perceive as inevitable. Government Technology’s Jessica Jones writes that in addition to retrofitting fire stations, historic buildings, and landmarks to meet earthquake safety standards, and offering tax breaks to homeowners who do the same, Berkeley has teamed up with its well known university, the University of California, Berkeley, to train students in disaster response and equip them with the supplies that are necessary to help.

If you look at the greater good — especially if you live in a community that is subject to fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis — you have to have a plan in advance,” Gil Dong, deputy fire chief of the Berkeley Fire Department told Jones. Hurricane Katrina was instructive, he said, because it showed that if people do not take the time to prepare, a lot of them will be left waiting, which could lead to more injuries and deaths.

The main benefit of the student responder program is that more people will be there to help when an earthquake occurs. “For some people who don’t know how to take care of themselves in disaster situations, there will be people who know what to do,” said Bradley Kerr, a junior at Cal who is majoring in environmental science and is the Interfraternity Council (IFC) vice president of risk management. “For the majority of the populace that doesn’t take the time and wouldn’t even consider that an earthquake might happen until it actually is happening, there’s already something in place to help protect them and keep them safe.”