Yokota Red Cross teaches keys to disaster preparedness
Stars and Stripes February 19, 2011
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Being prepared for the unexpected is the key to weathering disaster.
That’s the message dozens of civilians and servicemembers from mainland Japan and Okinawa got during training this week by the American Red Cross at Yokota's Taiyo Community Center.
The training, which kicked off Tuesday and wrapped up Friday, was made up of six courses that dealt with such disaster-preparedness issues as family safety, reunification plans, shelter operations and emergency assistance resources.
Mary Basiliere, Yokota’s senior station manager for the Red Cross, said that, unlike in the States where it’s the role of the Red Cross to take the lead in disaster response situations, in overseas locations it’s the military who takes the lead.
“We opened it up to anybody on the bases in Japan that wanted to come and take the training,” Basiliere said.
Some lessons related to specific events at Yokota.
“The biggest thing was in July when we had the power outage (and flooding) on the east side and a lot of residents were displaced,” Basiliere said.
One of the instructors, Gerry Bailey, an assistant station manager at Kadena Air Base, stressed the importance of being prepared for any scenario.
In Japan alone, he said, there is the potential for typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, airplane crashes, chemical spills and train wrecks.
“We are training people to respond to these types of events so we can prevent human suffering and help people prevent and prepare for disaster,” he said.
Bailey said he hopes the volunteers and military personnel will take what they learned and share it with others at their respective installations.
One of those individuals is Tech. Sgt. Sirrena Airis, the emergency manager representative for Yokota’s 374th Maintenance Squadron.
“There is just a tremendous amount of preparation that goes into being ready in case of an emergency,” Airis said. “This program helps you find a place so that you won’t be lost in the tragedy of it and can mentally rise above it so you can create a safe place for all the people caught in it.”