The annual Emergency Preparedness Fair was hosted at West Point Saturday. Agencies that attended included local, state and federal organizations such as Homeland Security, National Weather Service, Red Cross, Orange County Sheriff Office and the West Point Fire Department, amongst others.

The event was inspired by what the Federal Emergency Agency refers to as an all-hazard basis, which is made up of various aspects of what can fall under the category of emergency territory.

The event promotes objectives by the Federal Emergency Agency to educate the public to have a broader perspective of what is considered a hazardous situation and emergency. Booths were set up to showcase what to do during a fire, severe weather storm, emergencies that are technological in nature, and human-caused emergencies like active shooters.

"Education is the main reason why we do this job, to educate the community to save lives. Ultimately, it's the number one goal," West Point Fire Instructor Brian Rhodes said. "We want people to learn as much as they can and hopefully, they gain some knowledge that one day can ultimately save their lives or a family member or a neighbor."

The annual Emergency Preparedness Fair began 10 years ago after West Point leadership recognized its limited ability to help people during an emergency. For example, people may expect immediate assistance from police, ambulance or fire departments in the event of a catastrophe, but there are many times when first responders are not available due to a high volume of calls and demands.

People can learn many different aspects of how to prevent or prepare for a crisis at the Emergency Preparedness Fair. One major take-away people should focus on to build and improve a community of emergency prepared people is learning how to rely on themselves rather than law enforcement, paramedics and other safety resources.

"We want to promote the idea that people have to care for themselves and their loved ones for up to 72 hours following an emergency," West Point Emergency Manager Chris Hennen said. "So, if we can prepare them to do that, the more enabled we are as a community to get through that and recover quickly.

"What we like to say is be a responder, not a victim," Hennen said. "Be enabled, be empowered with what you learn and how you prepare, how you care for yourself and your family, your organization, your co-workers and be part of the response team rather than be a victim that's in need of help."

The Emergency Preparedness Fair provided hands-on activities such as teaching people how to use a fire extinguisher and give CPR through live demonstrations. Other informational booths gave materials such as brochures, pamphlets and booklets to help educate people about various organizations that serve the public.

"We really rely on people to take this information, read it, and act on it the best they can," Hennen said.

The Emergency Preparedness Fair was a community event that promotes the notion of people collectively and individually applying what is learned and to be ready for the unpredictable.

People are educated about family emergency plans such as where to go in the event of an emergency, what their expectations of emergency providers should be and how they can best prepare for the worst.

The community is encouraged to get involved in other upcoming emergency-themed activities throughout the month. For more information, contact Chris Hennen at Christopher.g.hennen.civ@mail.mil or by phone at 845-938-7092.