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Oakland man drives disaster preparedness message with educational program

Oakland man drives disaster preparedness message with educational program
Oakland man drives disaster preparedness message with educational program 03:20

OAKLAND -- He's unofficially known as a "go-to" person if you need to know anything about disaster preparedness at home.

You'll often find Doug Mosher stationed at a booth at neighborhood events in Oakland, advising folks to prepare for the unexpected.

Not for just disasters like the 1991 Oakland firestorm.

"We know we're living right on top of the Hayward fault, we know we're next to the Bay, we have flooding and tsunami risk," Mosher said.

He first learned emergency preparedness growing up in North Carolina and recalled surviving a hurricane.

"Loud. Windy," he said. "At the time, I was young, so it was frightening."

Now, the 15-year safety patrol volunteer for the East Bay Regional Parks trains Oakland residents to be ready for any emergency.

Ken Benson, board president of the Oakland Firesafe Council, says in 2018 when the city of Oakland's free emergency preparedness training program went dormant for a few years, neighbors wondered where else they could turn.

"Where do we train or if we need a refresher, what do we do?" said Benson. "So Doug stepped forward and said, 'Hey, this really needs to continue.'"

With a grant from Cal Fire and matching city funds, Mosher founded Oakland Community Preparedness and Response three years ago under the umbrella of the Oakland Firesafe Council.

He leads workshops and creates informational guides featuring the mascot Ready Ranger. He's also established backup disaster communications in case cell service fails.

"We put together a radio network in Oakland that stretches across the East Bay," Mosher said.

He shares three key pieces of advice in disaster training: 

  • register with your city/county for emergency notifications
  • devise a family evacuation plan
  • consider how to help your community if the worst happens.

Neighbors like Brenda Whitfield are listening.

"It's for me to take hold and grab, and help somebody else, to help my neighbor," she said.

"The community, in general, is much better off because there's a Doug Mosher," said Benson.

So for preparing Oakland residents for the next disaster, this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Doug Mosher.

Note: The city has since rebuilt its program, and is providing FEMA CERT emergency preparedness training to Oakland through the fire department's Emergency Management Services Division. It partners with OCPR in preparedness programs.

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