Prompt, well-coordinated response by emergency agencies can often make the difference between life and death. Recently several public, private and citizen volunteer organizations were put to the test and responded magnificently when a natural gas leak forced the immediate evacuation of nearly 800 residents of the area along Lindley Avenue in Tarzana.
When the gas leak was detected at around 9 p.m., the city Fire and Police departments set up a command post and went into action. They called upon two all-volunteer citizen groups, the Citizens Emergency Mobile Patrol and L.A. Search and Rescue, who responded immediately and assisted by erecting barricades, directing traffic, notifying residents that they would have to evacuate and helping to secure the area.
True to its reputation, the American Red Cross staff and volunteers also responded quickly, setting up an evacuation center at a local high school, providing nourishment and reassurance to the evacuees and aiding those who needed assistance with leaving the affected area.
The RTD responded to an emergency call by sending buses to transport people who did not have their own means of transportation, including elderly residents of a retirement home, to the evacuation center.
Southern California Gas Co. officials were on hand immediately, trying to identify the source of the leak so that the broken line could be sealed.
As the local elected official representing the area, I want to commend all the public and private agencies for their prompt, effective response to the emergency, for their concern for the residents and for their very capable handling of an incident which could have had tragic consequences. From the highly professional police and fire personnel to the citizen volunteers who knew what to do and were willing to risk their own safety to assist others, we owe them all a debt of gratitude.
I, for one, am proud of our city forces, of our community volunteer organizations and of the other individuals and agencies who were there when they were needed.
Picus represents the 3rd District on the Los Angeles City Council.