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LAWRENCE COUNTY Disaster readiness, block watch have similarities



Published: Mon, April 21, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The programs will be presented in eight school districts.

By NANCY TULLIS

VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Lawrence County District Attorney Matthew Mangino hopes a series of upcoming terrorism and disaster preparedness training sessions in the county will spawn new neighborhood watch groups.

An introductory program for eight emergency preparedness training programs will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at George Washington Intermediate School, New Castle.

The programs will be April 29 to May 22 in eight school districts for anyone who wants to know how to prepare for a disaster.

Mangino said there will be an overview of the training sessions and representatives from various agencies such as the Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency, Contact Emergency Assistance Referral Service (EARS) Helpline and area hospitals will be on hand to discuss their services and how they respond in an emergency.

Knowing who lives on your block, who might need special medical attention, and how to recognize out-of-the-ordinary activity are some of the lessons taught in homeland security programs.

Mangino said similar concepts are taught in neighborhood watch programs in the fight against crime.

Neighborhood watch

He said once the citizens are prepared for disasters or terrorist threats or attacks, a logical step would be to use those same networks to establish neighborhood watch programs where none exist.

Knowing neighbors and recognizing what activity in the neighborhood is unusual, for example, apply to both homeland security and crime watch programs.

Mangino said whether the disaster is natural or man made, much of the response is the same. A neighborhood might be isolated from law enforcement and professional medical help. Neighbors should know what to do for 24 or 48 hours or more until help arrives.

Some of the ideas to be discussed in the sessions at various school districts are simple first-aid and search-and-rescue techniques, creating an evacuation plan, and getting to know neighborhood residents, especially in particular learning ones who might have medical needs.

Mangino said evacuation planning also includes establishing a contact person outside an effected area so family members in various parts of the county can establish communications.

Because of the chaos after a disaster, a wife at work in downtown New Castle might not be able to contact her husband at their home out in a township. Both, however, might be able to contact Aunt Mary in Cleveland.

Then each family member would be making one call instead of each trying to make multiple calls to one another, he added.

tullis@vindy.com




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