NERT volunteers prepare for San Francisco's next disaster

Are you prepared for disaster if it strikes today? That was the goal of the San Francisco Fire Department on Saturday when it held drills to train residents on disaster preparedness. 

About 50 volunteers came out to St. Ignatius Prep Academy in San Francisco. Those volunteers broke in small groups and went through a number of real-world disaster scenarios, ranging from earthquake situations to medical emergencies. 

"I heard about the program, I thought it was a great way to meet my neighbors," said Gary Pegueros, a volunteer with the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team, or NERT.

NERT came to be after the Loma Prieta earthquake 34 years ago, which the last time San Francisco was rocked by a "big one," and it operates under the guidance of the SFFD. Volunteers say the experience is meaningful because they learn how to help their first responders, neighbors, and families.

Volunteers work together through obstacles while carrying a dummy on a stretcher. In another group, they worked as a team to walk on planks.

"There are actually some life things I've taken away from this: Never go into a situation, like a house that's burning, alone. Always have a partner," said Sarah Merrell, another NERT volunteer.

Having a partner is crucial said one SFFD official.

"We want them to have the team concept of leaning on one another for help, then we practice skills such as cribbing, triage, and other emergency medical preparedness things," said SFFD Captain Brandon Tom. "It hits home because my parents are still here, my sisters are still here, my whole family is here. If I get called away at an earthquake or a disaster, I'll be working, and I need someone there to take care of my family."