My first question when told I’d be participating in an upcoming CERT training was, “What’s a CERT?” As it turns out CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team and helps prepare everyday citizens with basic disaster response skills that can be applied back to their communities and workplaces. We also get to use fire extinguishers, perform light search and rescue, and dress wounds. Sign me up!
As we began our first day (of three total days) it was immediately apparent that this was a community effort. The City of Auburn, led by the Auburn Emergency Management Department, began this initiative in 2006 and has trained close to 700 people to date. We were part of class #38 and were surrounded by concerned citizens, local volunteers, and individuals from the same communities. These very people, in case of an actual disaster, would be the ones others would look towards for support, guidance, and organization. That’s a very real and serious responsibility and one that ultimately makes for better prepared communities and workplaces throughout the city of Auburn.
The first rule of CERT training is knowing how to distinguish between an emergency and a disaster. The short version is that an emergency is something you’d call 911 for and get immediate help. A disaster on the other is something that would overrun local resources. Essentially, you’d be on your own for multiple days without someone coming to rescue you. Immediately my thoughts turned to the number of water bottles, location of flashlights, and canned food I had in my own home. What if that disaster occurred while I was at work? Did you know that Green River College is a designated safety location in the event that Mount Rainier were to erupt?
Once everyone was briefed on the unique role CERT volunteers play, the types of disasters we were training for, and where our roles ended, we were ready for some hands-on learning activities. We learned how to safely approach victims (or survivors depending on how you look at things), conduct head-to-toe assessments, and treat a variety of burns, wounds, and fractures. This of course involved each of us spending some time on the ground playing a variety of roles.
Seeing your coworkers play the part of victim/survivor prepared us for our next role of rapid assessment. We were given a variety of stuffed animals and asked to very quickly perform simple triage and rapid treatment (START). Little did we know that these stuffed animals were to play a major role in our next few days…more on that though in our next post. Stay tuned!
Links of Interest
- City of Auburn Disaster Training
- City of Auburn Code Red Notifications
- City of Auburn Useful Emergency Preparedness Links
- Disaster Supply Checklist (PDF)
- Mount Rainier Volcano Evacuation Routes (PDF)