Ojai Rotarians, Be prepared
Residents of Ojai, California, USA, revel in their little slice of paradise. But members of the Rotary Club of Ojai West know that the idyllic locale – nestled in a valley known for its laid-back vibe and pink sunsets – is hardly immune to the risks that come with California living, so they enrolled in a disaster preparedness course.
Stephanie Midgett, the club’s past secretary, thought the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class was so good that it should be shared, so she tapped the resources of Rotary and Ojai’s own Tinseltown talent.
The club spent US$10,000 to sponsor People Like You, a 77-minute DVD showcasing the course’s key pointers on how to survive – and help others – in the event of an earthquake, fire, or other catastrophe. The DVD, which sells for $20, is available at a reduced rate to Rotary clubs, which can offer community screenings and sell the video as a fundraiser.
Dulanie Ellis-La Barre, a documentary film producer whose local company, Walk Your Talk Productions, created the disc, wasn’t sure about the project at first, fearing that even a distilled version of the 18-hour course would not make for scintillating viewing. “Then my husband took the class and said, ‘We’ve got to get this.’ The class was full of people from Rotary who were really excited about doing it.”
“The trick was to condense that into a film that is engaging, and getting a lot of imagery and footage to make it come alive,” Ellis-La Barre adds. She and Raymond Singer, an Emmy Award-winning screenwriter, videotaped and edited scenes from the CERT course, setting a lively tempo.
“You don’t want it to be one of those films you fall asleep in high school watching,” says Ellis-La Barre.
CERT classes, which receive some funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency, are conducted across the country.
The DVD includes a variety of tips, everything from what goods to stockpile to the proper use of a fire extinguisher. The producers also included information about natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes because of “how far and wide the reach of Rotary is,” says Ellis-La Barre. “We wanted to be able to suit the needs of all the Rotary communities.”
The instructor featured in the video, Captain Steve Lazenby of the Santa Paula, California, USA, Fire Department, says, “It doesn’t matter where in the U.S. you are, it doesn’t matter if you are in the wealthiest community or the poorest – there aren’t enough people to respond to a disaster.”
The club hopes to get the disaster preparedness information out to every American family, Midgett says. “In the early hours of a disaster, and maybe days, they are going to be dependent on themselves and those who have stepped forward. We’ll be taking our place in the community.”
Lazenby says he still gets a chill watching the DVD. “It makes people sit back and think how vulnerable they are,” he says. “I tell the people watching it that I hope that they can’t sleep at night, and that they worry that we are so ill prepared and vulnerable.”
For more information, or to purchase individual copies of People Like You, visit walkyourtalkproductions.com; for volume discounts, e-mail Dulanie Ellis-La Barre at email@example.com.