Letters for the week of March 16-22, 2005 

For $50 and a few evenings, you, too, can be a postquake lifesaver; and if Walgreens won't invest in West O, why shouldn't residents invest in themselves?

"It's Everybody's Fault," Feature, 2/23

Get ready for disaster
I appreciate the effort to bring to people's attention what the worst-case scenario will be when the Hayward fault lets loose with any sizable quake. Residents of the greater Bay Area should read such articles regularly so that they realize how dangerous an area we live in.

Gammon's writing is every bit as good as the best, scary Stephen King novel. Where he falls short, though, is in presenting solutions both for being prepared and coming through a major quake, and being able to save and help family members and others injured or trapped.

The best single thing Bay Area residents can do -- and this includes those on virtually any budget -- is to enroll in one of the disaster-preparedness courses offered by local fire departments. Some are free; others cost up to $50, or perhaps more in some cases. What one gets in knowledge about what to do and what not to do during and after a major quake or other disaster is arguably hard to put a price on. However, graduates also usually get a backpack full of emergency gear, including flashlight, hard hat, water bottle, heavy gloves, basic emergency first aid supplies, and a wrench to turn off gas (among other items) that will be vital in dealing with any emergency or disaster, and are usually worth more than the enrollment fee.

Usually the courses are held one evening per week over a six-week period for about three hours a night. They cover earthquake awareness, fire suppression, basic triage (separating people into categories so that proper care can be administered to each), light search and rescue, the dynamics of working as a team, and other such information.

My wife and I enrolled in DART (Disaster Area Response Training) with the city of San Rafael, as my wife was from San Rafael originally and I work in Marin. All of the training is aligned with the Community Emergency Response Team, which is part of the Governor's Office on Service and Volunteerism. Armed with some basic knowledge regarding disaster response, one can take actions that will help to minimize loss of life and perhaps even save oneself and one's family from injury or death. I take my training very seriously. At all times now, in the car that I use for work, is my disaster-response pack and earthquake emergency kit.

Graduates are sworn in as Disaster Service Workers and are expected to help out in any disaster. I fully intend to stop work the next time a major disaster hits the Bay Area and get my gear on and get to work helping those that are in need. The vital and important difference now is that I have been trained in disaster response. I feel confident that I can take steps to help others without putting myself in undue danger, thus becoming one of the injured, or worse. That is a calming, empowering feeling. And it's as near as your local fire department. This is a solution that is affordable, available, and vital for Bay Area residents.
Brian Gardner, Point Richmond

I'm packing for survival
Almost twenty years ago, I researched the Hayward Fault for a term paper and was astounded at what I discovered. I was equally surprised that the subject was virtually ignored at that point by local media -- Bay Area residents didn't have a clue of the deadly situations they would face if the Hayward Fault erupted. I'm glad that your updated findings have been made available. One of my projects this weekend will be to put together my earthquake survival kit (although I'm not sure it will do me a lot of good).
Corinne Lamata, Berkeley

"Take Two Buses and Call Me in the Morning," City of Warts, 1/5

I'd rather take the bus
Having worked in West Oakland, I must point out some mistakes in Chris Thompson's article. First, the Mandela Transit Village, across the BART tracks from the Mandela Gateway, is a $15 million development by African-American activists, so any idea that West Oakland "activists" aren't realistic could have been dismissed as a glib stereotype simply by looking across the street. (But perhaps Chris Thompson is blind, in which case, I apologize.)

Second, Thompson never addresses Dana Harvey's argument that Walgreens was to take profits out of the neighborhood, insult the community by paying low wages, and monitor residents with cameras because they are black and poor. If that is the cost of having Walgreens, I personally would rather take a bus to a place where workers can go and earn a living wage and not be monitored with a camera. If Walgreens won't invest in West Oakland, why shouldn't residents invest in themselves?

Finally, in response to his claim that poor, inner-city people don't eat healthy food: I grew up in a low-income Asian-American family of color in the inner city, and not once did we eat at a fast-food restaurant nor buy packaged snack foods. Rather than spend money, we ate vegetables from our yard. Others who don't have yards should have access to buying fresh produce so they don't have to spend their hard-earned money on prepared foods.
June Gin, San Francisco

Cary Verse spent a total of six years at Atascadero State Hospital, not four as reported in last week's cover story ("Oh, Give Me a Home"); he was released in 2004. And while Verse supporter Birgitta Ericsson is a fellow Christian, she is not a Jehovah's Witness as the article stated. We regret the errors.

Not that we should really have to point this out, but the billboard that appeared in last week's Bottom Feeder was a parody of Oakland's proposed "Operation Shame," in which the names and faces of men arrested for soliciting Fruitvale prostitutes are to be plastered on city billboards and bus stops. The photo we used was a doctored picture of an Express staff member, the name was fictitious, and the phone number was inoperational. You can stop calling now.


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