Last week I started C.E.R.T. training – aka Community Emergency Response Team Program. It’s an 8 week course put on by my local Fire Dept to get people trained in emergency basics.
Since they say it better on their website than I can, here’s a quick quote:
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.
Living in an earthquake zone it seems like a useful thing to know. I’ve always tried to be independent, but being independent is one thing, I figured it’s much more important to be useful (as my grandmother always said) – it’s all well and good to not be a burden, but since I can, and I’m able, I’d rather put myself to some use should something come up. To look at it another way, in our town we have 7-9 firefighters on duty at any one time. In an earthquake if even 10% of our population of 10,000 are injured, trapped or need help after an earthquake, it will be a long time before those 7 firefighters make it around to those 1000 people. Currently my city has about 100 people trained in the CERT program. That adds a lot of extra hands in case of a real emergency.
Last week was the initial intro and overview – this week we got to put out fires! It was actually pretty easy – somehow I thought it would be more dramatic, but a fire extinguisher really does a good job, quickly and very effectively (for small fires, of course). We have a great fire dept with a lot of nice guys who make the course interesting. It is run in a fairly laid back way, keeping it interesting. We get to hear back stories on various fires and calamities that have happened.. some stuff that is fairly astonishingly stupid that people have done, but then other things that give you pause..
They said that the most common fire is electrical – think about it in your house – how many extension cords do you have going? Are they running under a carpet? If so, not good.. the rubbing of the carpet can wear down the cord in as little as six months.. get a longer cord if you must and run it around the room against the walls, not where they are likely to get worn and cause a hazard. Also, don’t pile on one multiple outlet to another.. check the rating (usually on the back side of the outlet) and keep it under the recommended maximum – just because there are six (or three or whatever number) of outlets, does not mean it’s safe to use them all, look at the power required for each item you’re using and don’t overload your plugs!
Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home? No? Get one. They work!
Do you know where you gas/electrical shut-offs are? Do you know how to shut them off? Find out if you don’t know. If your gas has been shut off after an emergency, do remember not to turn it back on again – leave that to the pros.
Next week we start in on two weeks of medical training, going over Triage and basic first aid (treating for shock, broken limbs, minor burns, bleeding, etc, etc). We will also be covering light Search and Rescue (something I’ve always wanted to do with Freia – though in reality the training time for it is enormous and most dogs don’t pass..), Disaster Psychology, Financial Planning and the CERT Organization system (or something like that), and Terrorism.
I must be some kind of disaster geek or something, cos I love this stuff..