MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif --
As highlighted by the recent earthquakes which struck in the Searles Valley area, disasters do not often come with visible warnings, so being prepared for potential hazards aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California is crucial.
“Disaster responses are high-risk events which threaten and impact communities and present unique challenges for responding personnel,” said Paul Purdy, fire chief with Fire and Emergency Services on base. “It is critical that we be prepared for disaster responses, as well as the recovery phases that inevitably follow.”
Being prepared for emergencies is one way to help mitigate damage and expedite the recovery processes.
“Threats that could affect MCLB Barstow and the surrounding area are of course earthquakes as seen recently in the Searles Valley area,” said Maj. Ernest Robinson, Headquarters Company commanding officer and base emergency manager. “Other threats include extreme heat, wildfires, and potential flash floods during the rainy season.”
“According to the MCLB Barstow All-Hazard Threat Assessment conducted by Headquarters Marine Corps, the Barstow area may also be impacted by droughts and damaging winds,” said Lori Morgan, physical security manager.
There are myriad ways that individuals can prepare themselves and their loved ones for emergencies.
“Number one, stay informed,” Morgan said. “All MCLB personnel should enroll in Athoc. Athoc is a mass notification system that quickly and accurately informs MCLB personnel, in real-time, of any possible threats, and provides any necessary instructions in the event of an emergency. For Athoc registration information, please email BSTW_SECMGR@usmc.mil.”
Additionally, a well-stocked emergency preparedness kit can also help in surviving and then recovering from a crisis. Potable water is the most important thing to maintain in adequate amounts.
“People can survive without food or other things for extended periods of time,” said Greg Kunkel, Emergency Medical Services chief with FES. “However, no one can go long without water. We recommend a gallon per day of water, for every person, with enough on hand to last a few days. In emergencies, often services such as water, gas and electricity are cut off due to damages incurred during the crisis. For example, the city of Trona is still having issues with regard to water supplies due to the recent earthquakes and people are having to transport water into them. This is a week after the initial earthquake. Who knows how long before their water services will be reinstated?”
Regardless of standard operating procedures, it’s important for people to take action for the safety of themselves and those around them if they are able to do so.
“Everyone should have an emergency action plan catered to their specific lifestyle, family size, workload, and abilities,” Robinson said. “All personnel should ensure they have a stockpile of water and food which should cover a few days, to a week, at a minimum.”
In fact, the Red Cross recently recommended having up to two weeks worth of supplies on hand due to how long it may take to reinstate the various services.
“Additionally, having filled gas cans on-hand would alleviate potential issues if gas stations are affected by a disaster,” Robinson explained.
Anyone on base should notify housing and maintenance of any issues, or potential issues, prior to or after an emergency.
“However, if there is a hazard during or after an emergency, such as gas lines leaking, electrical lines down, people should call 911 immediately,” said Jason Thompson, Environmental Division director.
Be sure to advise the 911 operators of your specific location, though, because those calls are not answered by base phone operators, but rather they are answered by California Highway Patrol and they may not be immediately aware that you are calling from a military base, Kunkel advised.
“Unfortunately, it is hard or even impossible to predict or forecast when an emergency, specifically an earthquake, will affect the area,” Robinson said. “If an issue arises, notify base personnel immediately, and access your emergency preparedness kit. Those kits should be stocked with a variety of things, such as a first aid kit, batteries, flashlights, any necessary medication, a knife or multipurpose tool.”
There is a wealth of information on emergency planning for family members with special needs, children, and pets, Morgan pointed out. For information and recommendations, go to the “Ready Marine Corps” website at https://www.ready.marines.mil/Make-a-Plan/. The site can also be a good source for information on building a good emergency preparedness kit at this link: https://www.ready.marines.mil/Build-a-Kit/Basic-Emergency-Kit/.
“A successful outcome from major emergencies and disasters necessitates having sufficient resources for managing the disaster response and recovery through a partnership among all levels being government - federal, state, and local agreements,” Purdy said.
A well-stocked emergency preparedness kit is another tool that can help increase the potential for successful outcomes.