Cert Cool, Free School

Cert Cool, Free School

                                                                             By Jeanette Vale

Do you wish you were a Preparedness Warrior?  Do you feel like this area is too foreign to you?  Joining a CERT team might just be the ticket!  CERT training will educate you in disaster relief  AND…get this: You will actually BE more prepared for disasters.  Wow!  What a concept and it’s free to you.

Disasters seem to be trending now.  Major ones, like Katrina (2005), showed us that first responders were late responders. Like…many days late. 

As the public, we have big expectations of our police, fire department and EMT.  

“Show up, save me, protect me and be here in eight minutes please”.

Well, what happens when they don’t show up at all? 

The magnitude of disasters is literally overtaxing our first responders. There are simply not enough of them.  

On top of that,  their own families may be caught in the cross hairs of the very disaster you are in.  Understandably, their children will be a priority if they are at home with them when disaster strikes.

Because of these possibilities FEMA has created CERT,  the Community Emergency Response Team. 

Their website defines the mission: The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.

“You are the help until help arrives,” declares the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in its call for Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers.

CERT is made up of people in your neighborhood.  Anyone can join. You may have a friend next door who is on this team.  You could get your friends and join this team.   It is a volunteer position.  The Fire Department in your neighborhood does the training.

While living in Northern California I spent five months training to be in CERT.  Not all cities take that long to certify their teams.  I learned so much about managing chaos and resources after a disaster.  Being armed with that knowledge has been awesome.

One of my favorite emergency skills I learned was box cribbing.  It uses blocks of wood to build  towers.  Incrementally you can use leverage to lift heavy debris off of crushed victims.  See the following Youtube.

Cribbing Rescue Training for CERT/Search & Rescue Team

At a health-fair booth I was able to teach this to children as “Barbie and Baby Bear” got crushed by a wall.  Children used box cribbing techniques to lift the debris and save the victims.  That was so much fun, and the children learned a valuable skill.  Children who are trained become assets and not liabilities!  Empowering them to be useful and critical thinkers is well worth the time spent. 

Ask your local  firefighters if they will train you and your children in this.  They may have down time and I bet they’d love working with children on a shift.

After a major disaster happens, If you see a person dressed in CERT clothing, offer your services to them.  They are trained to organize their neighbors to save the most lives.

They will actually be looking for able bodies that can think clearly and help sort  the chaos.  They may give you directions of what to do.  

Even if you are quite shaken they can put you on a small task to help others who are worse off.  

For example, sitting with an injured person to keep them warm, present and from going into shock.  

Their number one goal is to triage as many injured people as possible.  Triage means to sort bodies:  Who is dead?  Who is almost dead but can be saved? Who is alive to help?   

They must make split decisions rapidly to save as many lives as possible.  A successful CERT member will move through victims doing a few seconds of life saving procedures as they go.  

Even just tilting a head back to open a passageway and then moving on to another victim might be the extent of the help they can give.  But small things like that can and do make a difference in saving life.

Entering Homes

CERT members enter homes after knocking with a loud announcement.  It may sound like this, “Hello! My name is Jeanette. I am with CERT.  Is anyone home?  I’m coming in to do search and rescue”.  

Their goal is to find neighbors trapped under debris, hurt, or find the deceased.  They will do a sweep of the entire home and leave a spray-painted message for the advanced Search and Rescue teams who finally arrive.

Here is what they spray on the front door or wall:

Upon entering the home, they will paint a diagonal slash. If you see just one slash it means the structure is still being searched.  When the team exits the structure, they spray another line completing a large X. 

This X indicates the structure has been searched and the team has exited the building successfully and at what time they finished.

Now, I keep saying 'they and team', but it just might be you, all alone, doing these searches. If neighbors look trustworthy train them on a few home searches with you and then have them canvass other streets to find the injured that need attention.  

Any hazards inside are listed.  There may be dogs, flooding, unstable walls. 

In the lower part of the X  the upper number means how many found alive inside and the lower number is how many dead.  If this area is left blank, it means no persons found at all.

Because of the spray paint, first responders can quickly determine the  houses they don’t have to search.  Seconds count when trying to reach victims that can be saved in other homes.

It has been fifteen years since I went through CERT training and that knowledge still enriches me.  It was an excellent adventure.  I hope you will go through it.  Your family and neighbors will be lucky to have you!

Step on, Prep on and come visit us!  We have the stuff for disasters.  www.emergencyzone.com


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