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COUNTYWIDE : 33 Volunteers Train for Quake Emergency Duty

If an earthquake were to shake Ventura County this week, emergency response teams would be much better prepared than they were a week ago, said Lt. Arve Wells of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.

Over the weekend, the county Fire Department trained 33 members of the Sheriff’s Department’s volunteer search and rescue team to deal with a disaster.

Trainees include search and rescue volunteers from Ojai, Fillmore, the eastern portion of the county and the Los Padres area of Santa Barbara County.

Volunteers gathered at Fire Station 50 at the Camarillo Airport to learn how to move heavy objects, rescue victims from holes and trenches and evacuate victims from buildings. Lessons were conducted in a classroom and in the field.

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“This is designed not to have the volunteers replace existing Fire Department personnel, but to augment them,” Wells said.

“We’re trying to be anticipatory. We don’t want to suffer the fate of other departments and look back afterward and wish we would have trained additional people.”

Sandi Wells of the Ventura County Fire Department pointed out the importance of dispersing trained rescuers countywide.

“You look at where the faults lie and you see that some areas could be completely isolated,” she said.

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“Some of our stations are outlying and these guys would be available to assist. They would be available to each other.”

With a similar training program conducted last month, a total of 54 volunteers have been trained, Wells said.

“The plans are to periodically reinforce the training to maintain efficiency,” Wells said. “This isn’t just a one-shot thing.”

The training will include simulating a rescue from a collapsed building in January.

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