Citizens learn disaster response skills - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Citizens learn disaster response skills

Saturday morning's emergency wasn't real, but the people administering assistance were. They were average citizens in disaster response training and local leaders are looking to recruit many more.

The Citizen Corp Summit in Memphis was held by the local office of Homeland Security. The message: for the first 72 hours after any disaster restoring order will be up to you and your neighbors.

"First responders can't be everywhere at any given time during an emergency," said local Homeland Security Director James Bolden. "More than likely, the first person to arrive on a scene is going to be a citizen."

The Citizens Corp provides emergency training in the event of a natural disaster or one that's terrorist related.

"We've worked very diligently in trying to mobilize law enforcement and emergency services, but the key ingredient to response is getting people sensitive and getting them prepared for dealing with these emergencies," said Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell.

Organizers say this summit was planned months ago, but they say recent disasters in other states certainly were a wake up call.

"What I've tried to do over the last few weeks, in light of what happened in New Orleans, is to say that perhaps we should adopt a Ronald Regan mantra which is, trust that you're ready, but verify," said Harold Ford, Jr., (D) Memphis.

Some say there's no point in having a plan if it hasn't been tested and the key to its success is making sure the public is prepared.

If you're interested in joining the Citizens Corps you can contact our local Homeland Security office. The number is 379-7094.

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