Gov. Schwarzenegger launches first-in-the-nation Disaster Corps

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Corey Moore/KPCC

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at a press conference announcing California's Disaster Corps, a disaster-training program, June 25, 2010.

Governor Schwarzenegger says California packs quite a wallop when it comes to volunteerism. About seven million people in the state — more than in any other — donate their time.

The governor aims to coordinate those helping hands by launching a disaster training program just for volunteers.

Schwarzenegger — flanked by state officials and firefighters — launched a program he said is the first of its kind in the nation. At the Los Angeles City Fire Training Center, he recalled the Cosco Busan Oil Spill in San Francisco Bay a few years back. Four thousand volunteers were ready to help…

“...But they were all turned away with the exception of a few," the governor said. "And we found out this was because they were not trained to clean the oil spill. They didn’t have the gear, they didn’t have the gloves, they didn’t have anything so therefore they couldn’t help. So we say this is the last time that's ever gonna happen.”

As he’s done before, Schwarzenegger drove home a point with a reference to his bodybuilding background.

“This is training, training, training. Because I believe in mileage. I believe in reps. I come from sports. It’s all about the more often you do something, the better you get. I believe a slogan that came from the British army and then was adopted by the Marines. The seven 'P's. Proper prior planning prevents pissed-poor performance. The seven 'P's. Remember the seven 'P's."

Governor Schwarzenegger said this new program will help prepare volunteers for oil disasters and other catastrophes like earthquakes, wildfires and mudslides. The training also will focus on recovery from those events.

Disaster Corps developed after the governor appointed Karen Baker as the nation’s first Secretary of Service and Volunteering about two years ago. The program signed up 1,000 volunteers.

The California Volunteers organization runs Disaster Corps. It issued $1.15 million in grants to various counties that have signed on to the program — including Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino.

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