San Francisco

Bay Area Demand Soars For Emergency Response Training

Inspired to action after devastating natural disasters, people in San Francisco are eager to learn how to respond to an emergency, so much so, that there's a lengthy waiting list for training.

The San Francisco Fire Department says it used to be tough filling Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) classes. But after emergencies such as the North Bay wildfires and the hurricane in Puerto Rico, NERT classes are now in high demand, with a waiting list 200 deep.

More than 50 people spent three hours at fire headquarters Thursday night, learning how to respond to emergency situations such as putting out fires and rescuing people buried in debris.

People in the class say recent disasters had them worried, so they decided to get prepared.

"One of the things that made me want to do this was the fires in Santa Rosa, having friends who had to evacuate," resident Laura Thomas said.

She's not alone.

Fire officials say the spike in interest peaked after an earthquake in January woke up most of the Bay Area.

"Overnight, all my classes were filled," San Francisco fire Capt. Erica Arteseros said. "My inbox was filled with requests. We put up three more classes right away."

The department is now offering three classes a month instead of two, and there is still a waiting list of 200 people. Thomas said 18 hours of training feels better than worrying.

"We've got a water supply, our go bags, cat carriers," she said. "I feel better prepared for anything, but especially an earthquake."

Students learn how to be prepared at home so they can then go out and help their neighbors. It's help the fire department says it will need.

"There are 325 of us on duty every day, and 800,000 people live here," Arteseros said. "It has to be a 'We' solution. It can't just be us."

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