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"Knowledge, it's power": Collier residents practice disaster survival tactics

Your North Naples Community Correspondent Bella Line attended North Collier Fire's special FEMA program to see how it's teaching people to prepare for and survive the next major hurricane.
"Knowledge, its power"; North Collier Fire hosts natural disaster survival program
Posted at 10:05 PM, May 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-06 22:07:53-04

NAPLES, Fla. — It's National Hurricane Preparedness Week and here in Southwest Florida, we know that disaster can strike at any time.

So the North Collier Fire Rescue District is teaching people like you and me how to prepare, act, and survive as another hurricane season approaches.

North Collier Fire FEMA hurricane prep class
With North Collier Fire, residents practice different ways to cut through dry wall using common household objects. This makes sure they know how to get free if a wall collapses during a hurricane or other natural disaster.

“Being a younger person and helping with the relief effort after Hurricane Ian it was seeing a lot of those older volunteers that are still going out today, saying to me, personally, 'Hey, we're going to be retired soon and it's really up to the next generation to step into it,'" said Justin Jaffry, a Naples resident.

After going through both hurricanes Ian and Irma, Jaffry still says he feels like he could benefit from more training.

North Collier Fire FEMA training hurricane prep
Naples resident Justin Jaffry attended the FEMA hurricane survival training hosted by North Collier Fire on May 6. After going through Irma and Ian, Jaffry wants to continue adding to his preparation and survival skillsets so he knows what to do as others around him retire.

“To put somebody in an emergency situation where they have no skill set. It's very, it's very scary, it can be overwhelming, but when you give them the knowledge, its power, and then that gives them confidence," said Heather Mazurkiewicz, Public Information Officer for North Collier Fire. "That confidence is what they build in order to react in these situations and that's what it's all about at the end of the day for us.

It's called Prepare, Act, Survive - a FEMA-funded program. The goal is to give communities the tools to make it through a natural disaster.

north collier fire hurricane prep class
With the help of North Collier Fire, residents practice what it's like squeezing through wall studs to get out of harm's way, like they might have to, if a wall or structure collapses during a hurricane or other natural disaster. The program's curriculum is prepared by FEMA.

"The civilians could be on their own for up to 72 hours even beyond that until rescuers are able to get to them," said Elaine Spruill, program instructor through Texas A&M Engineering Extension. "The biggest thing is that we teach them how to take care of themselves, their family, their neighbors, which involves their community only if they want to after a disaster because preparing for it, but you know, to survive through it.”

Not only to survive for yourself but to help those around you survive as well.

“If we went a little bit further to prepare, we could have helped prevent a lot of disaster at the end of it," said Jaffry.