Tustin hosts disaster preparedness expo at historic hangar

By Jessica Peralta

Sitting on sofa benches inside the trailer, the sudden shaking took the group by surprise.

“You didn’t think it was gonna give you a warning, did you?” asked Kevin Foley, project manager for Big Shaker Enterprises, based in Vista.

The shaking trailer was part of a demonstration simulating a 6.7 earthquake. The City of Tustin, Tustin Police Department, Orange County Fire Authority, and other agencies want the public to be prepared for exactly this type of disaster. It’s why the Mayor’s Disaster Preparedness Expo, held at the Tustin hangar on Saturday, April 28, hosted a wide collection of vendors and demonstrations centered around being ready in case a disaster hits.

With the 120-foot-tall reinforced concrete doors open, the Tustin hangar at the former United States Marine Corps air station hosts the 2018 Mayor’s Disaster Preparedness Expo in Tustin.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Addressing the attendees, Mayor Al Murray thanked the Tustin PD and Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA), which “have joined forces to provide vital information so we can protect our neighbors.”

He added that “it’s not a matter (of) if this is going to happen,” as he reminded attendees about the recent Napa and Canyon 2 fires. “Things are gonna happen.”

Tustin PD Volunteer Tupua Ioane answers questions at the Tustin Police Department booth.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Murray has a background in law enforcement.

“I’ve seen it up close as to how important emergency preparedness is,” he said.

Tustin PD Chief Charles F. Celano Jr. summed it up for the audience: “failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Tustin CERT volunteers welcome the public inside the Tustin hangar.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Among the long list of participants were members of the Tustin Police Department’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), the American Red Cross, OC Trauma Kits, Care Ambulance, Salvation Army, OC Animal Care, Ready OC, US Army Reserve, Fire Doctor, and more.

Joe Meyers, Tustin Police Department’s emergency management coordinator, said there were about 30 vendors at the event.

“This is probably the biggest show like this in Orange County,” he said.

Doug Van Iwaarden of Orange County Fire Authority gives the command for Sadie, a black lab search dog with OCFA, to cross a wooden plank, one of the many tasks she may have to perform during a rescue operation, during a demonstration at the Mayor’s Disaster Preparedness Expo.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

The vendors and demonstrations all served one purpose.

“We don’t want people to be complacent about preparedness,” Meyers said. “It’s something you have to practice every day. … We want them to actually do it … take some steps to be prepared.”

Sadie, a search dog for Orange County Fire Authority, patiently waits for the next command during a K9 search and rescue demonstration.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

The OCFA held two types of demonstrations, including one teaching how to properly use a fire extinguisher and one showing how the Urban Search & Rescue Team utilizes K9s in its program.

“Living in Southern California, we know that there’s numerous types of emergencies that we could face,” OCFA Division Chief Andy Kovacs said, adding that the expo was a great opportunity for hands-on education.

The sun peeks over the 1,072-foot-long Tustin hangar as the public is welcomed inside.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

OCFA Capt. Doug Van Iwaarden, who also represents the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as part of the Urban Search & Rescue Team, was part of the K9 demonstration. As part of California Task Force 5, he and his 7-year-old black Labrador, Sadie, can be deployed across the nation to find people during disasters in urban areas, including earthquakes, terrorism attacks, and mudslides.

Iwaarden demonstrated training techniques used to teach Sadie to search for live victims in rubble, including climbing a ladder, walking onto a wooden plank, and then making her way down the other side of a ladder.

Tustin Mayor Al Murray is interviewed inside the Tustin hanger during the 2018 Mayor’s Disaster Preparedness Expo.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

“We’re trained to find people,” he said. “She is trained for the smell of a live human being.”

Organizers hope that expo attendees took away useful information and will be better prepared when a significant incident or disaster strikes.

Tustin Mayor Al Murray takes a photo as the OCFA helicopter lands for the third time that day just outside the Tustin hanger.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Exhibit booths line both sides of the hangar.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC