Jim Kusz

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Jim Kusz retired from North Lincoln Fire and Rescue last year.

Fire prevention is still near and dear to his heart, and for his upcoming disaster preparedness class at Oregon Coast Community College, he’s inviting Jenna Trentadue, National Fire Plan Coordinator from the Oregon Department of Forestry, to speak about FireWise, a program supporting creation of defensible spaces around homes in fire-prone areas.

Another guest speaker will join Kusz’s two-session class. Dr. Lesley Ogden, CEO of Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital and Pacific Communities Hospital, will talk about COVID-19, and how pandemics and other health risks can be incorporated into the list of circumstances coast residents may wish to be better prepared for in the future.

Kusz would normally be paid for his instruction through OCCC’s Community Education Program, but he’s donating his compensation to the Echo Mountain Fire Relief Fund. The community college is following suit, donating 100% of all registration fees ($15 per participant) to the same fund.

About the class

In 2015 The New Yorker published a cover story, “The Really Big One,” that detailed the risks to the West Coast of the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The risks of a “Cascadia Event” and the tsunami it would/will cause, were laid plain in stark, sobering language.

As a result, attendance in Oregon Coast Community College’s Disaster Preparedness class, already a popular recurring course in OCCC’s Community Education program, ballooned. Sellout crowds gathered to hear Jim Kusz, at the time a Captain with North Lincoln Fire & Rescue, explain how to craft appropriate “go kits” for home and autos, and how to be prepared to ride out the earthquake, tsunami, and the days or weeks of isolation that would likely follow.

Many of these students were surprised when each class began with the same refrain from Capt. Kusz: “The wildland fire is going to get us long before the tsunami will.”

In fact, some of those who evacuated from the Echo Mountain Complex Fires last summer did so in cars equipped with “go bags” inspired by their participation in Capt. Kusz’s class.

This winter, OCCC is pleased to return this course – the most attended class in the history of the Community Education program at OCCC – via Zoom. The class summarizes some of the fundamental risks that threaten to strike the Northwest at any time, and Kusz delivers the content in a casual, friendly manner. The class isn’t about fear or panic; it’s about confidence and preparedness.

This two-session class will be recorded, with the link made available to all registrants, even if they cannot attend the live classes. The cost of “Disaster Preparedness for the Pacific Northwest” is $15, and 100% of payments will be donated to Echo Mountain Fire Relief. The class will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, Feb. 2 and 4.

If you’ve attended Kusz’s classes in the past, expect this one to be updated and informed by 2020’s many challenges. If you cannot attend the class but would like to make a contribution to the Echo Mountain Fire Relief Fund, deposits can be made at any First Interstate Bank. The Fund’s tax ID is 85-3034665, Oregon Registry No. 171985196.

Other non-credit community education courses are available via Zoom this winter, including a live cooking class coming this March, and a series of astronomy-related courses. The lineup also includes a personal-finance class as well as courses designed to prepare you to become a licensed Real Estate Broker or a licensed Real Estate Property Manager in Oregon, among others.

To register for a class, visit oregoncoast.edu/communityed, or find the online “Catch the Wave” course schedule at bit.ly/wintercatch. Or, register by phone, at 541-996-6222.


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