CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team. I vaguely remember when son Giver Man went through the CERT program 2 years ago. I heard about it again when I went to a seminar my church denomination put on.
CERT training is a 20 hour course that was initially put together in 1985 by the Los Angeles Fire Department. It’s purpose was to train civilians to respond in emergencies when our established EMS system would be overloaded. Good thing too, as 2 years latter in 1987, the Whittier Narrows earthquake hit Southern California, confirming the need for civilians to be trained in emergency response. In 1993, the program went national through FEMA and is now offered in 28 states and Puerto Rico.
I had heard there was a long wait to get into one of the three classes offered per year. With 123 people on the waiting list and only 30 students per class, I was not anticipating getting in for 3-4 months, so I was very surprised when I got the call 6 weeks after signing up. Apparently, they just start going down the list calling. If you answer your phone, great, your in. If not, they move down the list until they get 30 yeses.
I had been in the fire service for 9 years but had left it 17 loooong years ago. I believed the CERT class would be a good review but was not so pompous to think I wasn’t going to learn anything new. Procedures, processes and equipment change all the time.To say I was a bit rusty is an understatement.
The classroom was filled with quite the mixture of students. About half consisted of a Civil Air Patrol youth group. The other half were men and women of all different ages, sizes and experience levels. Some were going through the class for the 2nd time as they wanted the review. Some were moms. Some were administrators from the local university or yet others had home business who wanted to be involved in their neighborhoods. The following is some of the material we covered.
- Disaster preparedness
- Fire Suppression Safe use of fire extinguishers (always using the buddy system), controlling utilities, extinguishing small fires and what Determines “small”.
- Medical Operations Diagnosing and treating airway obstruction, bleeding and shock; Learning how to triage injuries, performing head to toe assessments and basic first aid.
- Light search And Rescue Scene size up, search techniques, lifting and carrying methods, and rescuer safety.
- Psychology Assessing the signs and symptoms often experienced by both workers and victims.
- Organization and Management Incident Command
- Course Review And Disaster simulation The fun part, with moulage “victims” and practicing in teams, everything we have learned in the course.
My weakest points were in incident command, my strongest were in triage and medical care. I have the opportunity to continue polishing my skills by participating in local and county wide drills…..or not. Totally my choice.
When my class ended, the waiting list to get in had grown to 298! If you want more information on the CERT program, you can go to the link I have posted below..Just copy and paste into your browser.