No, this post is not about how to properly take a breath mint, although I know many of us who could benefit from such training.
This post is about CERT, or Community Emergency Response Team. I’ve written before about how I believe I have no useful skills should a disaster strike. Well tonight was my first night at trying to remedy such a situation.
My son and I attended what is know as CERT training; from the FEMA web site, here is a description of CERT:
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program helps train people to be better prepared to respond to emergency situations in their communities. When emergencies happen, CERT members can give critical support to first responders, provide immediate assistance to victims, and organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site. CERT members can also help with non-emergency projects that help improve the safety of the community.
The CERT course is taught in the community by a trained team of first responders who have completed a CERT Train-the-Trainer course conducted by their state training office for emergency management, or FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI). CERT training includes disaster preparedness, disaster fire suppression, basic disaster medical operations and light search and rescue operations.
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) concept was developed and implemented by the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) in 1985. The Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987 underscored the area-wide threat of a major disaster in California. Further, it confirmed the need for training civilians to meet their immediate needs. As a result, the LAFD created the Disaster Preparedness Division with the purpose of training citizens and private and government employees.
The training program that LAFD initiated makes good sense and furthers the process of citizens understanding their responsibility in preparing for disaster. It also increases their ability to safely help themselves, their family and their neighbors. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recognizes the importance of preparing citizens. The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) and the National Fire Academy adopted and expanded the CERT materials believing them applicable to all hazards.
The CERT course will benefit any citizen who takes it. This individual will be better prepared to respond to and cope with the aftermath of a disaster. Additionally, if a community wants to supplement its response capability after a disaster, civilians can be recruited and trained as neighborhood, business and government teams that, in essence, will be auxiliary responders. These groups can provide immediate assistance to victims in their area, organize spontaneous volunteers who have not had the training and collect disaster intelligence that will assist professional responders with prioritization and allocation of resources following a disaster. Since 1993 when this training was made available nationally by FEMA, communities in 28 states and Puerto Rico have conducted CERT training.
When I discovered that my township was sponsoring a CERT program, my youngest son and I signed up with great anticipation.
Tonight was the first of seven weekly meetings where we will learn the skills and knowledge needed to be an effective part of helping our community should an emergency arrive.
Next week we meet at the local firehouse, where we will learn how to properly use a fire extinguisher, among other fire-related skills.
The skills and the knowledge we acquire will not only be helpful in case of a community emergency, but will be useful in knowing how to respond when emergencies happen on a smaller scale, such as just in our own home.
Thank you Radnor for sponsoring such a useful program; we look forward to the remaining parts of the program!