Residents and visitors in the greater Tehachapi area were faced with a new challenge the last week of October. Electric power was shut off in many areas while the winds blew hard, leading to a series of Red Flag alerts to our community. While the Kincaid, Getty and Tick fires exploded in Northern and Southern California, first responders in Tehachapi were placed on high alert to respond to multiple local fire incidents and medical emergencies.

In response to this, a public event was held in the early evening of Nov. 5, sponsored by the Social Justice Team of the Community Congregational Church UCC and Faith in the Valley – Kern. This event was a prayer vigil planned in response to a sense of urgency to come together in prayer for victims as well as an opportunity to learn from the experts on what to do when faced with a fire incident and a power shutdown. Information was provided as to ways that members of our community might support all those affected by the fires. Donations were accepted to be shared with victims.

Rev. Nancy Bacon led the event and offered an opening with a prayer. Rev. Bacon introduced Fire Capt. Anthony Cesario and Firefighter Kyle Bradley of Station 12 located at Curry and Valley Boulevard in Tehachapi for a brief presentation. The group held an active discussion of varied topics including hazard reduction, defensible space, emergency preparedness and responding to fire alerts.

Written materials were provided, which covered information on emergency preparedness and contacts. One of the resources is the website at ReadyKern.com. Another option is to call the referral services hotline at 211 for assistance.

Another suggested resource is available online. The Kern County Fire Department is linked into Smart 911, which enables users to create a free, private and secure Safety Profile. When a person creates a Safety Profile the individual is planning ahead for potential emergencies. This proactive profile provides emergency dispatchers and firefighters with information that helps them locate and help individuals requiring assistance during an emergency. Users creating a Safety Profile choose information to provide, which may include details such as address, medical history, medications, allergies, pets and emergency contacts.

The group wanted to assure that the community joins in thanking all firefighters and other first responders for their skills and sacrifice during this active fire season in the greater Tehachapi area. They depend on us to be prepared, and to work with them in the event we have to depend on them during a fire or other emergency to keep us safe.

Kathleen Murguia is a member of the Community Church - United Church of Christ.