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California Students Learn Emergency Radio, First Aid Skills

Students in California are learning emergency skills to help if a disaster strikes their community. Mike O'Sullivan reports, they are mastering first aid and disaster communications.

Tom Baker teaches mathematics and meteorology at Moorpark High School outside Los Angeles. He also teaches emergency preparations in a course called Radio Amateurs in Disaster Operations. Students study for their amateur radio license.

"Take out your Morse code sheets, everyone," he says to the students.

They also learn disaster triage and first-aid techniques, taught by a captain from the local fire department.

Baker says the lessons of Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans and the Gulf Coast a year-and-a-half ago, show that people may be on their own after a disaster.

"You have got to have water, you have got to have electricity, some form of a generator, some form of food or medicines, or whatever it is," he notes. "And you have got to do that all on your own for at least 72 hours. There is no umbrella of protection waiting for us. We are on our own."

Student Brandon Sullivan plans to become an emergency medical technician.

"And just help my community, if anything bad happens, all these bird flus and stuff, terrorism, and I just do not want to feel I cannot do anything about it," he says.

Student Chris Darabi says preparation is essential here in California.

"It is an area with a high probability for earthquakes, so I just want to be prepared for anything, any disaster," he notes.

Stephanie Ross says the class is challenging.

"At first, when you start it, it is kind of confusing, but it comes together," she says.

People in any part of the world are at the mercy of the weather, and at risk of both natural and man-made disasters.

Even on this quiet California campus, student Adam Price says anything could happen.

"You have got earthquakes and natural disasters that could happen at any time, like the bird flu that will hit, probably," he adds. "But it is just a case of being prepared for anything that could happen, because you never really know what could happen."

Ventura County Fire Captain Jon Jelle says the class teaches student self-sufficiency.

"This is just kind of a stepping stone to let them know there are things out there in the world that they can do without being told to do so," he says. "In case of a disaster or emergency, they can go out there and help."

Fires, floods, earthquakes, a bird-flu epidemic or a terrorist attack - teacher Tom Baker says his students will be ready.