LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Is your emergency bag packed and ready to go? Local emergency planners say it should be-- especially since hurricane season is nearly upon us.
As the season nears, everyone has hurricanes in mind, but an evacuation could become necessary in any number of situations. And today emergency responders and volunteers practiced the drill at the Lake Charles Civic Center.
Many emergency responders have first hand, real life experience when it comes to helping those who have no transportation and nowhere to go during an emergency evacuation. Still, they practice each year trying to get better, and trying to anticipate different issues and needs. And there are always people new to the drill.
Toni Collins is a volunteer playing an evacuee with serious medical issues. "Diabetes, I had a stroke, high blood pressure. I have a lot of things wrong with me and I'm alone.
After participating in the drill, she said they need practice. "They need to practice more than one time a year. They need to do it often."
In this drill, right off , the unexpected came when they couldn't use the coliseum at the Civic Center due to construction. But Calcasieu Emergency Response Coordinator Marc Ferguson says they adapted. "It's a good idea to have a backup because that's real life."
After the drill, participants gave each other feed back. As they get ready, it's a reminder for citizens to do their personal planning too. For instance, Ferguson advises people to have important documents and prescriptions ready to go."Fix your prescriptions ahead of time so you'll have enough medication while you're gone," said Ferguson.
In a real emergency, those who come here would be sent off to shelters in safe areas. Emergency response coordinator Robert Daughdril urges younger people to plan for those who cannot fend for themselves. "With my mom or my dad, I'm going to make provisions to make sure that I get them where they at least sleep on my brother's couch or somewhere that is going to be a lot safer and more comfortable for them than laying on an army cot in a gym with 200 other people."
They urge all to get a game plan and have a jump bag ready to go at a moments notice.
And Calcasieu OEP has a new Facebook page called "Emergency Notification, Calcasieu CPPJ. If you indicate you "like" it you'll receive emergency messages should any be issued.
Another great idea for families is to have someone, perhaps out of state, to serve as "communication hub" so that if relatives get separated, everyone knows who the point of contact is--so you don't have people frantically searching for each other.
For other ideas about customizing your own personal plan click here.