Emergency medications

To prepare for a disaster, everyone should have medications in their emergency kits, according to Columbia Memorial Hospital pharmacist Nate Nerenberg.

CANNON BEACH — The Medical Reserve Corps held a learning session on Saturday at City Hall to teach people how to obtain prescription drugs after a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami, as well as techniques to manage pain without medication.

The guest speakers were Nate Nerenberg, a pharmacist and manager of the pharmacy department at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria, and Kathleen Bell, a registered nurse and teacher for the American Holistic Nurses Association integrative healing arts program.

Tsunami Hazard Zone

The Medical Reserve Corps is trying to educate the community on emergency preparedness for an earthquake or tsunami. 

Nerenberg taught people how to incorporate medication into their emergency kits, while Bell shared methods to relieve and manage pain and find increased levels of comfort.

Nerenberg told people to include a typed copy of their prescriptions, supplements and medical equipment and supplies. He said to update the list every six months and to include expiration dates and any drug allergies. In a disaster, if no computers are working, a pharmacist or doctor could use the lists to get people their medication.

Leaders of the Medical Reserve Corps have been training since 2015, but the learning session was the first public training. They hope to have an emergency preparedness event for the community every quarter.

The goal is to empower the community, said Lila Wickham, co-coordinator of the Medical Reserve Corps.

“Our demographics are older ... which means you’re going to have more people with chronic disease. So that’s why we focused on how can we help people be prepared,” she said.

Using a survey conducted by the Medical Reserve Corps, they identified places where people who might have mobility issues live and used the findings to divide the city into six geographic areas.

“Our plan is to work in neighborhoods and create neighborhood captains who will do door-knocking and have neighborhood events where people are really engaged at their community level. Because if we have a major event, people will be isolated in their little communities if the roads are broken,” Wickham said.

Clatsop County Commissioner Lianne Thompson, who represents South County, said training is essential to educating people and knitting communities together.

Thompson was part of the Nehalem Bay Community Emergency Response Team and Medical Reserve Corps and trained people on the Cannon Beach Community Emergency Response Team.

She said Nehalem Bay is leading emergency preparedness on the North Coast, but Cannon Beach is following and leading the way for Clatsop County.

“Nehalem Bay is grassroots and it draws from the grassroots all the way up and has the buy off so there’s a clean, pure line,” Thompson said. “Cannon Beach does wonderful things. In terms of Clatsop County, Cannon Beach is absolutely the leader.”

Thompson said grassroots planning is critical to making sure people are prepared for a disaster.

“You empower people because you’re not going to be able to command and control your way out of this,” she said. “It’s empowering the grassroots to do well — that’s the answer because it’s fundamentally the relationships. I mean, you need skills, you need ... appropriate equipment and the skills to use them.

“Fundamentally, it’s a matter of proper relationships, people relating to each other and empowering lifesaving ways.”

Nicole Bales is a reporter for The Astorian, covering police, courts and county government. Contact her at 971-704-1724 or nbales@dailyastorian.com.

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