Nationwide program teaching teenagers emergency prep comes to Alaska

MyPI Teachers-in-training practice freeing someone from debris using a small table and a...
MyPI Teachers-in-training practice freeing someone from debris using a small table and a crowbar. (KTUU)
Published: Aug. 15, 2019 at 8:53 PM AKDT
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To most, a plastic foldable table isn’t very heavy, but to the members of the Alaska My Preparedness Initiative, the table represented a collapsed wall. They were tasked with using a crowbar and blocks to lift the “wall” and rescue the person pinned underneath.

This exercise and many like it are part of the nationwide program training teenagers how to act in emergency situations.

“What we do is we drive that message, that preparedness message, home through our teenagers." says Ryan Acres, the MyPI National Project Director.

The program started in Mississippi to help rural communities deal with tornadoes and hurricanes, but Alaskans worry about a different kind of disaster.

“During our most recent earthquake, the responders, we have on duty --we're very busy, going in different directions at once, and it was really incumbent on people in their own homes to kind of minimize their losses." says Ron Swartz, the manager of the Alaska division of MyPI and UAA’s emergency manager.

On Thursday, MyPI instructors taught members of the emergency management community what they'll go on to teach teenagers across the state.

“It brings in a whole other level … of the population that may not have been utilized in the past as much as they could've been,” says Casey Cook, the Mat-Su Borough Emergency Manager, and a MyPI teacher-in-training. “And it gives them some buy-in, some involvement, some ownership of their community."

Swartz hopes this training will help minimize damage in future disasters.

“My crusade here has been to teach people that they are the true first responders,” Swartz says. “When bad things happen, there are things that they can do, after they dial 911, to minimize the loss of life and property."

And it all starts with saving people from a table.

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